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excerpt from 

The Centuries of Meditations

Thomas Traherne

A reprint of Bertram Dobell's edition of 1908
with a new introduction.
The Shrine of Wisdom, Surrey, 2002  


First Century


Meditation 22

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 tet 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 the King's friend: to whom he communicated his desig, 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?  God 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 siad the King we will return, and enjoy ourselves at quiet in our own land.  So you may no, 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 ther Soul is insatiable.  Like Alexander the Great they must have it all: and when they have 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 world 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.                          

Meditation 45

This is a lesson long enough: which you may be all your life in learning, and to all Eternity in practising. Be sensible of your wants, that you may be sensible of your treasures. He is most like God that is sensible of everything. Did you not from all Eternity want some one to give you a Being? Did you not want one to give you a Glorious Being? Did you not from all Eternity want some one to give you infinite Treasures? And some one to give you Spectators, Companions, Enjoyers? Did you not want a Deity to make them sweet and honourable by His infinite Wisdom? What you wanted from all Eternity, be sensible of to all Eternity.  Let your wants be present from everlasting.  Is not this a strange life to which I call you? Wherein you are to be present with things that were before the world was made? And at once present even like God with infinite wants and infinite Treasures: Be present with your want of a Deity, and you shall be present with the Deity. You shall adore and admire Him, enjoy and prize Him; believe in Him, and Delight in Him, see him to be the Fountain of all your joys, and the Head of all your Treasures.