What Can You Learn from a 17th Century Clergyman?

Thomas Traherne's writings in Centuries of Meditations are packed with spiritual wisdom.

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Posted in , Sep 3, 2019

Reading Thomas Traherne

Never heard of Thomas Traherne? Neither had I until very recently. Turns out he was a 17th century English poet, clergyman, theologian and writer. I learned about him through reading his posthumously discovered and published Centuries of Meditations, a collection of short paragraphs about Christian life, philosophy, happiness, love and so on.

The title is a good description of this dense, very satisfying work. I couldn’t sit down and read right through it without pausing and, well, meditating on the profundity of his thoughts. Here are just a few lines I highlighted in my copy of the sublime Centuries:

  • “The contemplation of Eternity maketh the Soul immortal. Whose glory it is, that it can see before and after its existence into endless spaces.”
  • “All His praises are your joys, all His enjoyments are your treasures, all His pleasures are your enjoyments.”
  • “You never know yourself till you know more than your body. The Image of God was not seated in the features of your face, but in the lineaments of your Soul.”
  • “God is present by Love alone.”

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  • “Love is the true means by which the world is enjoyed: Our love to others, and others’ love to us.”
  • “Man is made in the Image of God, and therefore is a mirror and representative of Him.”
  • “You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars…”
  • “Let me so long eye Thee, till I be turned into Thee...”
  • “The soul is a miraculous abyss of infinite abysses, an undrainable ocean, an unexhausted fountain of endless oceans, when it will exert itself to fill and fathom them.”
  • “Who can love anything that God made too much?”
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