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How the Devil distracts in Darkness with Business of the Flesh

3 min • Digitized on September 2, 2021

From A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, page 171
By St. Thomas More


Of the devil named Negotium, that is to wit, Business walking about in the darknesses.

The prophet saith in the said psalm, Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi, in protectione Dei cœli commorabitur. Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus, non timebis, &c. A negotio perambulante in tenebris,—He that dwelleth in the faithful hope of God’s help, he shall abide in the protection or safeguard of the God of heaven;

And thou that art such one, shall the truth of him so compass about with a pavice [shield], that thou shalt not be afraid of the business walking about in the darknesses.

Negotium is here, cousin, the name of a devil that is ever full of business, in tempting folk to much evil business. His time of tempting is in the darknesses.

For you wot well, that beside the very full night, which is the deep dark, there are two times of darknesses. The one, ere the morning wax light; the other, when the evening waxeth dark.

Two times of like manner darkness are there also in the soul of man: the one, ere the light of grace be well in the heart sprungen up; the other, when the light of grace out of the soul beginneth to walk fast away.

In these two darknesses this devil, that is called Business, walketh about, and such fond folk as will follow him he carrieth about with him, and setteth them a work with many manner bumbling business.

He setteth, I say, some to seek the pleasures of the flesh in eating, drinking, and other filthy delight, and some he setteth about the incessant seeking for these worldly goods: and if such busy folk, whom this devil, called Business (walking about in the darknesses) setteth a work with such business, our Saviour saith in the Gospel, Qui ambulat in tenebris, nescit quo vadit,—He that walketh in darknesses witteth not whither he goeth.

And surely in such case are they: for they neither wot which way they go, nor whither. For verily they walk round about, as it were in a round maze; when they ween themself at an end of their business, they be but at the beginning.

For is not the going about the serving of the flesh a business that hath no end, but evermore from the end cometh to the beginning again? For go they never so full fed to bed, yet evermore on the morrow as new be they to be fed again as they were the day before.

Thus fareth it by the belly; thus fareth it by those parts that are beneath the belly.

And as for covetise, it fareth like the fire, the more wood that cometh thereto, the more fervent and the more greedy it is.

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