Centuries of Meditations – First Century
Your enjoyment is never right, till you esteem every Soul so great a treasure as our Saviour doth: and that the laws of God are sweeter than the honey and honey-comb because they command you to love them all in such perfect manner. For how are they God’s treasures? Are they not the riches of His love? Is it not His goodness that maketh Him glorious to them? Can the Sun or Stars serve Him any other way, than by serving them? And how will you be the Son of God, but by having a great Soul like unto your Father’s? The Laws of God command you to live in His image: and to do so is to live in Heaven. God commandeth you to love all like Him, because He would have 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.
Socrates was wont to say—They are most happy and nearest the Gods that needed nothing. And coming once up into the Exchange at Athens, where they that traded asked him, What will you buy; what do you lack? After he had gravely walked up into the middle, spreading forth his hands and turning about, Good Gods, saith he, who would have thought there were so many things in the world which I do not want! And so left the place under the reproach of Nature. He was wont to say: That Happiness consisted not in having many, but in needing the fewest things: for the Gods needed nothing at all, and they were most like them that least needed. We needed Heaven and Earth, our senses, such souls and such bodies, with infinite riches in the Image of God to be enjoyed: Which God of His mercy having freely prepared, they are most happy that so live in the enjoyment of those, as to need no accidental trivial things, no Splendors, Pomps, and Vanities. Socrates, perhaps, being an heathen, knew not that all things proceeded from God to man, and by man returned to God: but we that know it must need all things as God doth, that we may receive them with joy, and live in His image.
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.