By the very right of your senses you enjoy the World. Is not the beauty of the Hemisphere present to your eye? Doth not the glory of the Sun pay tribute to your sight? Is not the vision of the World an amiable thing? Do not the stars shed influences to perfect the Air? Is not that a marvelous body to breathe in? To visit the lungs: repair the spirits, revive the senses, cool the blood, fill the empty spaces between the Earth and Heavens; and yet give liberty to all objects? Prize these first: and you shall enjoy the residue: Glory, Dominion, Power, Wisdom, Honor, Angels, Souls, Kingdoms, Ages. Be faithful in a little, and you shall be master over much. If you be not faithful in esteeming these; who shall put into your hands the true Treasures? If you be negligent in prizing these, you will be negligent in prizing all. For there is a disease in him who despiseth present mercies, which till it be cured, he can never be happy. He esteemeth nothing that he hath, but is ever gaping after more: which when he hath he despiseth in like manner. Insatiableness is good, but not ingratitude.
It is of the nobility of man’s soul that he is insatiable. For he hath a Benefactor so prone to give, that He delighteth in us for asking. Do not your inclinations tell you that the World is yours? Do you not covet all? Do you not long to have it; to enjoy it; to overcome it? To what end do men gather riches, but to multiply more? Do they not like Pyrrhus, the King of Epire, add house to house and lands to lands, that they may get it all? It is storied of that prince, that having conceived a purpose to invade Italy, he sent for Cineas, a philosopher and the King’s friend: to whom he communicated his design, and desired his counsel. Cineas asked him to what purpose he invaded Italy? He said, to conquer it. And what will you do when you have conquered it? Go into France, said the King, and conquer that. And what will you do when you have conquered France? Conquer Germany. And what then? said the philosopher. Conquer Spain. I perceive, said Cineas, you mean to conquer all the World. What will you do when you have conquered all? Why then said the King we will return, and enjoy ourselves at quiet in our own land. So you may now, said the philosopher, without all this ado. Yet could he not divert him till he was ruined by the Romans. Thus men get one hundred pound a year that they may get another; and having two covet eight, and there is no end of all their labour; because the desire of their Soul is insatiable. Like Alexander the Great they must have all: and when they got it all, be quiet. And may they not do all this before they begin? Nay it would be well, if they could be quiet. But if after all, they shall be like the stars, that are seated on high, but have no rest, what gain they more, but labour for their trouble? It was wittily feigned that that young man sat down and cried for more worlds to conquer. So insatiable is man that millions will not please him. They are no more than so many tennis-balls, in comparison of the Greatness and Highness of his Soul.
Thomas Traherne (1637 – September 27, 1674) was an English poet, Anglican cleric, theologian, and religious writer. Traherne’s writings frequently explore the glory of creation and what he saw as his intimate relationship with God. His writing conveys an ardent, almost childlike love of God, and is compared to similar themes in the works of later poets William Blake, Walt Whitman, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. His love for the natural world is frequently expressed in his works.
The work for which Traherne is best known today is the Centuries of Meditations, a collection of short paragraphs in which he reflects on Christian life and ministry, philosophy, happiness, desire and childhood. This was first published in 1908 after having been rediscovered in manuscript ten years earlier. Before its rediscovery this manuscript was said to have been lost for almost two hundred years and is now considered a much loved devotional.