Traherne’s Reflections on the Cross
In 1672, an English pastor by the name of Thomas Traherne wrote many searching reflections. In the words below, he ushers us into the agonies of the killing tree, the gibbet on which the Son of God was crucified. Then, he lifts our spirits with a probing question:
‘Pale, withered, extended, tortured, soiled with blood, and sweat, and dust, dried, parched! O sad, O dismal spectacle! All His joints are dissolved, all His blood is shed, to the last drop, all His moisture is consumed! What is here but a heap of desolations, a deformed carcase, a disfigured countenance! A mass of miseries and silence, footsteps of innumerable sufferings! Can this be a joy? Can this be an entertainment? Can this delight us? O Jesus, the more vile I here behold Thee, the more I admire Thee. Into what low abysses didst Thou descend, in what depths of misery dost Thou now lie! Oh what confusions, what stripes and wounds, what desolations and deformities, didst Thou suffer for our sakes! In all the depths of Thy humiliation I here adore Thee! I prize and desire always to see those stripes and those deformities. It is sweeter to be with Thee in Thy sufferings, than with princes on their Thrones, and more do I rejoice with Thee in Thy misery, than in all their solemnities. I tremble also to see Thy condescensions, the great effects and expressions of Thy love!’
‘Thou wast slain for me: and shall I leave thy body in the field, O Lord? Shall I go away and be merry, while the Lord of my soul, and my only Lover is dead upon the cross. Groans, here, in the sight and apprehension of Thy love are beyond all melody, and the solemn sorrows of a loving Soul, a faithful Friend, a tender Spouse, a deep and compassionate true Lover, beyond all the entertainments in the world. Thine O Jesus will I ever be while I have any Being.’
(Traherne, Centuries 1.89).