Thomas Traherne: An Introduction to Christian Meditation

This paper sheds light on Thomas Traherne’s (1637-1674) devotional and meditative writing practices and content as a way to enliven the reader’s own experience with God. Before us is an invitation to join Traherne in his calling “to carry and enhance virtue to its utmost height, to open the beauty of all the prospect, and to make the glory of God appear, in the blessedness of man, by setting forth its infinite excellency.” Though this claim is made at the entrance to his Christian Ethicks, it serves as a general overview of the sentiment within all his works. Traherne is pointing and shouting, “Behold!” Or, as the subtitle to his Commentaries of Heaven emphasizes what could be said of most of his writings, “wherein the mystery of felicitie are opened and all things discovered to be objects of happiness.” His sights are ever set on heaven, even as he looks to the things of earth. His witness is one of redolent glory, an invitation to devotion and true happiness that can only be found in God and a right view of His creation.

Following the emphasis of attention, intention, and attitude within Colossians 4:2 as a frame of reference, Traherne’s own contemplative practices are highlighted and central qualities of Christian meditation and spirituality are explored. Traherne serves as an exemplar within our own meditative practices. His attention dramatizes one who walks around with eyes and heart open to receive. The intention within his contemplation is so that through a practice of regimented watchfulness and writing he can disclose the wonder of this glorious world. He is in conversation with God as much as he is in conversation with himself and his reader. And finally, his attitude is a not only a posture of the mind but a result of experience and action.

4 thoughts on “Thomas Traherne: An Introduction to Christian Meditation”

  1. Interesting
    I think this should be accepted somewhere at ETS — possibly Systematica Theology or Anglican/Historical Studies — seems interesting. Possibly better papers here for SF, but this seems good.

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  2. I like this! I appreciate
    I like this! I appreciate what appears to be an integration of biblical and historical treatment of a person receiving increasingly more attention today. I think it should be accepted though it might find a better home elsewhere at ETS.

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