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A Decade of Centuries

Ten selections from Centuries of Meditations by Thomas Traherne (1637-1674).

In Poems, Centuries, and Three Thanksgivings (1966), ed. Anne Ridler, pp. 176-182.

By "century" is meant a collection numbering 100. Traherne wrote four complete centuries; another, he left incomplete, so there are 510 meditations altogether.

Capitalization, punctuation, spelling (including the idiosyncratic omission of the final "e" from certain words) and emphasis are as in the copy text. According to Ridler, moreover, Thomas Traherne "often uses a full point where it does not mark the end of a sentence, and is not followed by a capital. In modern punctuation this would be represented sometimes by a colon, sometimes by a lighter stop. Rather than resort to interpretation, I have used a centre stop in these places." I have used a middle dot, "·", to represent the "centre stop".

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THE FIRST CENTURY

25

Your Enjoyment of the World is never right, till you so Esteem it, that evry thing in it, is more your Treasure, then a Kings Exchequer full of Gold and Silver. And that Exchequer yours also in its Place and Service. Can you take too much Joy in your fathers Works? He is Himself in evry Thing. Som Things are little on the outside, and Rough and Common · but I remember the Time, when the Dust of the Streets were as precious as Gold to my Infant Eys, and now they are more precious to the Ey of Reason.

27

You never Enjoy the World aright, till you see how a Sand Exhibiteth the Wisdom and Power of God: And Prize in evry Thing the Service which they do you, by Manifesting His Glory and Goodness to your Soul, far more then the Visible Beauty on their Surface, or the Material Services, they can do your Body. Wine by its Moysture quencheth my Thirst, whether I consider it or no: but to see it flowing from his Lov who gav it unto Man, Quencheth the Thirst even of the Holy Angels. To consider it, is to Drink it Spiritualy. To Rejoice in its Diffusion is to be of a Publick Mind. And to take Pleasure in all the Benefits it doth to all is Heavenly · for so they do in Heaven. To do so, is to be Divine and Good · and to imitat our Infinit and Eternal Father.

28

Your Enjoyment of the World is never right, till evry Morning you awake in Heaven: see your self in your fathers Palace: and look upon the Skies and the Earth and the Air, as Celestial Joys: having such a Reverend Esteem of all, as if you were among the Angels. The Bride of a Monarch, in her Husbands Chamber, hath no such Causes of Delight as you.

29

You never Enjoy the World aright, till the Sea it self floweth in your Veins, till you are Clothed with the Heavens, and Crowned with the Stars: and perceiv your self to be the Sole Heir of the whole World: and more then so, becaus Men are in it who are evry one Sole Heirs, as well as you. Till you can Sing and Rejoyce and Delight in GOD, as Misers do in Gold, and Kings in Scepters, you never Enjoy the World.

30

Till your Spirit filleth the whole World, and the Stars are your Jewels, till you are as Familiar with the Ways of God in all Ages as with your Walk and Table: till you are intimatly Acquainted with that Shady Nothing out of which the World was made: till you lov Men so as to Desire their Happiness, with a Thirst equal to the zeal of your own: till you Delight in GOD for being Good to all: you never Enjoy the World. Till you more feel it then your Privat Estate, and are more present in the Hemisphere, Considering the Glories and the Beauties there, then in your own Hous. Till you remember how lately you were made, and how wonderfull it was when you came into it: and more rejoyce in the Palace of your Glory, then if it had been made but to Day Morning.

34

Would one think it Possible for a man to Delight in Gauderies like a Butterflie, and Neglect the Heavens? Did we not daily see it, it would be Incredible. They rejoyce in a Piece of Gold more then in the Sun: and get a few little Glittering Stones and call them Jewels. And Admire them becaus they be Resplendent like the Stars, and Transparent like the Air, and Pellucid like the Sea. But the Stars them selvs which are ten thousand Times more usefull Great and Glorious, they Disregard. Nor shall the Air it self be Counted any Thing, tho it be worth all the Pearls and Diamonds in ten thousand Worlds, a WORK so Divine by reason of its Precious and Pure Transparency, that all Worlds would be worth Nothing without such a Treasure.

35

The Riches of the Light are the Works of God, which are the Portion and Inheritance of his sons, to be seen and enjoyed in Heaven and Earth, the Sea, and all that is therin · the Light and the Day. Great, and fathomless in use and Excellency, True, Necessary. Freely Given, Proceeding wholy from his Infinit Lov, As Worthy as they are Easy to be Enjoyed. Obliging us to lov Him, and to Delight in Him, filling us with Gratitud, and making us to over flow with Praises and Thanksgivings. The Works of Contentment and Pleasure are of the Day. So are the Works which flow from the Understanding of our Mutual Serviceableness to each other: Arising from the Sufficiency and Excellency of our Treasures, Contentment, Joy, Peace, Unitie, Charity &c. wherby we are all Knit together, and Delight in each others Happiness. For while evry one is Heir of all the World, and all the rest his Superadded Treasures · all the World servs Him in Himself, and in them, as his Superadded Treasures.

37

The Brightness and Magnificence of this World, which by reason of its Height and Greatness is hidden from Men, is Divine and Wonderfull. It Addeth much to the Glory of that Temple in which we live. Yet is it the Caus why men understand it not. They think it too Great and Wide to be Enjoyed. But since it is all filled with the Majesty of His Glory who Dwelleth in it: and the Goodness of the Lord filleth the World, and His Wisdom shineth evry where within it and about it; and it aboundeth in an infinit Varietie of Services; we need nothing but open Eys, to be Ravished like the Cherubims. Well may we bear the Greatness of the World, since it is our Storehous and Treasurie. That our Treasures should be Endless is an Happy Inconvenience: that all Regions should be full of Joys: and the Room infinit wherin they are Seated.

38

You never Enjoy the World aright, till you see all things in it so perfectly yours, that you cannot desire them any other Way: and till you are Convinced, that all Things serv you Best in their Proper Places. For can you desire to Enjoy any thing a Better Way then in Gods Image? It is the Height of Gods Perfection that hideth His Bounty: And the Lowness of your Base and Sneaking Spirit, that make you Ignorant of his Perfection. (Evry one hath in Him a Spirit, with which he may be Angry.) Gods Bounty is so Perfect that He giveth all Things in the Best of Manners: making those to whom He Giveth so Noble, Divine and Glorious, that they shall Enjoy in His Similitude. Nor can they be fit to Enjoy in His presence, or in Communion with Him, that are not truly Divine and Noble. So that you must hav Glorious Principles implanted in your Nature; a clear Eye able to see afar off, A Great and Generous Heart, Apt to Enjoy at any Distance: a Good and Liberal Soul Prone to Delight in the Felicity of all, and an infinit Delight to be their Treasure. Neither is it any Prejudice to you that this is required · for there is Great Difference between a Worm and a Cherubim. And it more concerneth you to be an Illustrious Creature, then to hav the Possession of the whole World.

39

Your Enjoyment is never right, till you esteem evry Soul so Great a Treasure as our Savior doth: and that the Laws of God are sweeter then the Hony and Hony Comb becaus they command you to lov them all in such Perfect Maner. For how are they Gods Treasures? Are they not the Riches of His Lov? Is it not his Goodness that maketh Him Glorious to them? Can the Sun or Stars serv Him any other Way, then by serving them? And how will you be the Son of God, but by having a Great Soul like unto your Fathers. The Laws of God command you to live in His Image · and to do so, is to live in Heaven. God commandeth you to lov all like Him, becaus He would hav you to be his Son, all them to be your Riches, you to be Glorious before them, and all the Creatures in serving them to be your Treasures, while you are his Delight, like him in Beauty, and the Darling of his Bosom.

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See VI. Caroline Divines. 2. Thomas Traherne; Centuries of Meditations.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 05/26/04 07:01:47 AM
Categorized as Historical & Literary & Religious.

   
         
         

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Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”