Monday, 10 October 2011

Thomas Traherne

The poet and spiritual writer Thomas Traherne is often commemorated on 10 October (he is known to have died some time between 27th September and 10th October, 1674), and that seems as good an excuse as any to post some extracts from my college's very own mystic.

(He's our only mystic. So far. Though we do have a couple of great hymn-writers.)

These are all from his Centuries of Meditations, which C. S. Lewis called "almost the most beautiful book in English." I've posted some of them before. The pictures are from Credenhill near Hereford, where Traherne was parish priest, a very peaceful and beautiful place.

As nothing is more easy than to think, so nothing is more difficult than to think well.

That violence wherewith sometimes a man doteth upon one creature, is but a little spark of that love, even towards all, which lurketh in his nature. We are made to love, both to satisfy the necessity of our active nature, and to answer the beauties in every creature. By Love our Souls are married and solder'd to the creatures and it is our Duty like God to be united to them all. We must love them infinitely, but in God, and for God and God in them: namely all His excellencies manifested in them.

When we dote upon the perfections and beauties of some one creature, we do not love that too much, but other things too little. Never was anything in this world loved too much, but many things have been loved in a false way; and all in too short a measure...

O what a treasure is every sand when truly understood! Who can love anything that God made too much? What a world would this be, were everything beloved as it ought to be!

We could easily show that the idea of Heaven and Earth in the Soul of Man, is more precious with God than the things themselves and more excellent in nature... What would Heaven and Earth be worth, were there no spectator, no enjoyer? As much therefore as the end is better than the means, the thought of the World whereby it is enjoyed is better than the World. So is the idea of it in the Soul of Man, better than the World in the esteem of God: it being the end of the World, without which Heaven and Earth would be in vain...

The sun in your eye is as much to you as the sun in the heavens. For by this the other is enjoyed. It would shine on all rivers, trees, and beasts in vain to you could you not think upon it. The sun in your understanding illuminates your soul, the sun in the heavens enlightens the hemisphere. The world within you is an offering returned, which is infinitely more acceptable to God Almighty, since it came from Him, that it might return unto Him. Wherein the mystery is great. For God hath made you able to create worlds in your own mind which are more precious unto Him than those which He created; and to give and offer up the world unto Him, which is very delightful in flowing from Him, but much more in returning to Him.


Theodric the Obscure said...

I'm just going to ahead and say that sermon was next to worthless. I wish I had no idea what you were talking which I mean to say, I feel like I could have written every word. Loving God with all your mind is a vocation. Moving from faith to faith plus understanding is a vocation. Hang in there. It may be out of fashion in our rather impecunious age, but know that for some people your exercise of your vocation will be like springs in the desert.

Clerk said...

Thank you :) It's good to know other people have the same thoughts (well, not good - but you know what I mean!)