Some Memoirs of the life of Thomas Tryon
Here he relates his story and how he came to have some very firm ideas about how man should live and relate to God and his fellow men; and how to set up a community with a proper set of laws; and how to direct women with child raising!
Mr. Thomas Tryon,
Late of LONDON,
Written by himself
With some Rules and Orders, proper to
be observed by all such as would train up
and govern, either Families, or Societies,
in Cleanness, Temperance and Innocency.
Printed, by T. Sowle, in White-Harcourt,
in Gracious Street 1705.
Mr. Thomas Tryon,
I May probably run the hazard of censure, by setting down these brief Notes of my Life, it being not unlikely that some will
be apt to attribute it to Pride, or Vanity, and that others may say I had little else to do, when I thought of troubling the World with my small Private Concerns; but without mentioning the sundry Presidents of this nature, both in the past and present Ages, my own Conscience bears me witness, and I can justly declare, That the main motives hereto were these:
1st, To make an Humble Acknowledgment, and erect, as it were, a lasting Monument with my own hand, to the Divine Goodness, for his manifold mercies, and gracious favours to me from my Youth.
2ndly, By a serious reflection thereon, to engage my own Heart to a more humble frame, and greater thankfulness for so many Mercies received, and a sober Employment of them to the glory of the Giver.
3dly, To encourage others, by the Example of Godís gracious dealing with me, to a cheerful dependence upon his Providence in the ways of Humility, Industry, Temperance, Cleanness, and Mercy, which are always accompanied with an inward peace and satisfaction of Mind, and conduce to a greater knowledge of God, and themselves, than otherwise they can attain to.
These we declare to have been our main Inducements hereto, which we hope will appear sufficient to all sober and judicious Men; wherefore shall proceed, not concerning my self, how such may cavil, who receive with the left hand what is offered with the right.
The Place of my Birth was in Glocestershire, a County for the useful Woolen Manufacture, and an Industrious sort of People, giving place to few in England. The time, according to our common computation, in the Year 1634. on the 6th of September, a little before Eleven of the Clock, in the Forenoon, at a village called Bibury, being the Son of William and Rebeccah Tryon. My father by Trade being a Tyler and Plasterer, an honest sober Man of good Reputation; but having many Children, was forced to bring them all to work betimes. About Five Years old I was put to School, but being addicted to play, after the example of my young School-fellows, I scarcely learnt to distinguish my Letters, before I was taken away, to Work for my Living. Being about Six Years of Age, I had a Dream, wherein it pleased God to show me the Kingdom of Love, and the Kingdom of Darkness. I thought that God appeared to me and talked with me Face to Face, in a very friendly and loving manner. Not long after I had another Dream, wherein methought the Devil stood before me, and scourged me. It may be thought trivial by some that I here relate the Dreams, as it were of my infancy1. To which I shall only say, Those Dreams made so firm an impression on my Mind, as neither Time, nor the Cares and Business of this World, could obliterate; but the remembrance thereof has from time to time been both pleasant and awful, affording me great comfort and satisfaction; having, as it were, pointed out to me the Work my Great Creator ordained me for. Those that would be further satisfied about those Visitations, we refer to our Book of Dreams and Visions.
The first Work my Father put me to, was Spinning and Carding, wherein I was so Industrious, and grew so expert, that at Eight Years of Age I could Spin Four Pound a day, which came to Two Shillings a Week. This Work I followed close till I was Ten or Eleven Years Old. But then I began to be weary of the Wheel, and was strongly inclined to betake my self to the Flocks; and on Sundays, or Sabbath Days, we usually call them; I would voluntarily keep Sheep for a Penny or two Pence a Day, whilst the Shepherd went to Church, or to some Feast or Cudgel-playing, or other merry Meeting, as they called it. That was my practice for two or three Years, although I have wrought hard all the Week before at my Spinning Trade. About Twelve or Thirteen Years of Age, my Father would have me to along with him to learn his Trade, which thoí much contrary to my inclinations, yet I obeyed; but my mind still run after the Flocks and Folds, and I was frequently persuading him to buy some Sheep, no Imployment pleasing me then like that of a Shepherd, as being not only of e of the most ancient and useful Occupations, but the most innocent and contemplative, as also most healthful, because of the constant motion in the open Air; but my Father was unwilling to gratify me herein, he having no judgment himself, and looking upon me too young and unexperienced to be intrusted with the management of a Flock; but by continually importuning him, at last prevailed, and he bought a small number of Sheep; to the keeping and management whereof, I betook my self with much satisfaction and delight, as well as care. But all this while, thoí now about Thirteen Years Old,I could not Read; then thinking of the vast usefulness of Reading, I bought me a Primmer, and got now one, then another, to teach me to spell, and so learned to Read imperfectly, my Teachers themselves not being ready Readers: But in a little time, having learníd to Read competently well, I was desirous to learn to Write, but was at a great loss for a Master, none of my Fellow Shepherds being able to teach me2. At last I bethought my self of a lame young Man who taught some poor Peoples Children to Read and Write; and having by this time got two Sheep of my own, I†applied my self to him, and agreed with him to give him one of my Sheep to teach me to make the Letters, and Join then together: But I was as much at a loss for time, being forced to get my Fellow-Shepherds, now and then, to look after my Sheep whilst I went to Learn; and thus in some time I attained to Write well enough for common use, improving my Hand by frequent Practice and being now near Fourteen Years of Age, I had so well profited in the Art of managing Sheep, that I was accounted one of the best Shepherds in the Country, my Flock being in the best condition and proof, of any in the Field. But about Seventeen or Eighteen Years of Age, I began to grow weary of Shepherdizing, and had an earnest desire to travel, but knew not how to accomplish it. I formed several projects in my head, and effected my desire by this. Considering that my Sheep began now to grow old, I persuaded my Father to let me go sell them, and buy young Ones in their room, and convincing him by my Reasons, that it would be most for his Advantage; he consented, and I went and sold the old Sheep, and bought him young Ones: And having saved Three Pounds by my management of my Sheep, I went directly for London, and with the Money bound myself Apprentice to a Castor-maker, at Bridel-Dock, near Fleet-Street, and I informed my Father what I had done and he was well pleased, and commended my Conduct. My Master was an honest sober Man, one of those called Anabaptists. After I†had been with him about Two Years I†enclined to that Opinion; and was Baptized after their way, and admitted into a Congregation among them and continued in the Opinion about Three Years: At which time I was mightily addicted to Reading and Study; and thouí I was then engaged in a laborious Trade, and not allowed time for such Imployments of the Brain; yet was so intent on my Study, that I abridged my self of my Sleep and Rest. For after having wrought hard all day, from Five or Six in the Morning, till Ten or Eleven at night; it was frequent with me to sit up two or three Hours reading. I was not put upon this tedious daily working by my Master; for in our Trade Ďtis customary for Apprentices to have a certain Task allotted them; which Task, being handy at my Trade, I not only fulfilled with ease, but by that my assiduous working, earned Five, Six or Seven Shilling a Week, which my Master always readily paid me; And therewith I furnished my self with Books, paid my Tutors and served all my occasions:†but indeed, having no other way to raise Money was thereby forced to work thus early and late. And I made the same advantage of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsontide Holy days:†and would be at Work on Study, whilst my Fellow-servants were abroad taking their pleasure. I was then upon Astrology, Science too rashly decried by some, who consider not the Subordinate Administration of the Almighty, by those Illuminated Power of the Coelestial Regions, not discern their Operations in Nature, and Influences on the Animal Life, in the Complexions of Men and Things, and the Generation and Preservation thereof; whilst others abuse it, as grossly making it Subservient to their own designs of Legerdemain and Cheat: But I cannot therefore hold it unlawful or vain to study Astrology, any more than to study the Art of Medicine improperly called Physic for Physic implies the whole study of Nature; and therefore Astrology is included therein, as much as the knowledge of Diseases, and Methods of curing them.
By Astrology therefore, I†mean not the fraudulent way of telling Fortunes, so by setting Figures of the Heavens, but the Method of Godís Government in Nature, and Administration of the World; thoí I deny not that much may be discovered by a Scheme of any Personís Nativity when the true time of Birth is obtained, duly confirmed by Accidents, as our own Nativity prefixed hereto will evince. But the great Benefit I found in this Study, was, That it enabled me in some measure to discern the Complexion and Qualities of Animals, Minerals, and Vegetations; for no Judicious Man can deny the Influence of Coelestial on inferior bodies; and therefore he that is most knowing in their Nature and Operations, he distinguishes best the Natures and Qualities of the things of this World, and likewise best understands the human Nature, and himself; for there is an Astrology within Man, as well as without him. A Micorcosmical Sun and Moon, and all the rest of the Planets, we carry about us; that is, the qualities of our own Natures correspond with, and are derived from, the Seven grand Qualities, or glorious Governors of the great World Astrology therefore conducting so much to the knowledge of our selves, and of the Creator in all his glorious Works, is a singular advantage to the sober and well-minded, and ought no more to be condemned because of the common abuse of it, than Religion ought, because its so commonly perverted to Superstition, or made a Cloak to Hypocrisy and Knavery. But besides Astrology, I read Books of Physic, and several other natural Sciences and Arts. And thus spending my time at hard Labour in the Day, and great part of the Night in Study; I arrived to near Twenty Three Years of Age: About which time the blessed Day-Star of the Lord began to arise and shine in my Heart and Soul and the Voice of Wisdom continually and most powerfully called upon me for Separation and Self-denial and through his great Mercy I was enable to obey, retrenching many Vanities and flying all Intemperance; for then I betook myself to Water only for Drink, and forswore eating any kind of Flesh or Fish, and confining myself to an abstemious self-denying Life; my Drink being only Water, and Food only Bread and some Fruit, and that but once a Day for some time: But afterwards I had more Liberty given me by my Guide, Wisdom, to eat Butter and Cheese; my Clothing being mean and thin, for in all things Self-denial was now become my real business. This strict life I continued about a Year or more, and then through some inward temptations of the Evil Genius, and persuasion of Acquaintance, I fell to eat Flesh, and drink strong Drink again, but not immoderately, and continued so doing about half a Years; in which time I was often checked and troubled for my revolt, and fell into an indisposition of Body. The Voice of Wisdom, and my calling upon me, and prompting me to return to my abstemious way of living; and I no sooner obeyed, but I was restored to my perfect Health. About two Years after, I†made a second revolt; but through the revolt; but through the great Mercy of God, in fix Month was fully reestablished and fixed in my former abstemious innocent way of living, contenting my self with Herbs, Fruits, Grain, Eggs, Butter and Cheese for Food; and pure Water for Drink. But possibly some may be apt here to interpose and say, Why all this Singularity: And that it is ridiculous to run Retrograde from all our Neighbours and what advantage for you in it? To this I Answer, That I found this abstemious clean way of living in Innocency, mightily to sit and qualify me for the contemplation of our great Creator, and of his wonderful Works in Nature; for by thoroughly cleansing the outward Court of the Terrestrial Nature, and thereby raising the power of the outward Senses at the same time as it were, it opens the Window of the inward Senses of the Soul, so that they become clear-sighted, and can discern and distinguish between the good and evil Principles, and prepares the way for the Voice of Wisdom, giving it power over the Adamical Fatherís Nature, to tincture the jarring fierce astringent Forms thereof by its pure glanced of Light and Love; and if the Will which hath the casting Voice, submit it self to this holy Light, or Sonís Property, then the tumultuous envious Spirit is vanquished, and there is a blessed Union and harmonious Correspondency amongst all the Properties of the Soul; and when this State is known experienced, and witnessed unto, there is as it were, a new Earth, and a new Heaven; new Senses, and a new Understanding. Those are the blessed Fruits of adhering to the Voice of Wisdom, in Self-denial and separation; for they are the only inlets to all true knowledge, whether it be of God, Nature, or our selves. Men may conceit and fancy what they please; but this I do affirm as a serious truth, That there is no standing still of Manís Soul, either in the ways of Virtue of Vice; he that goes not forward, must of necessity go backwards: Therefore in the whole Progress of ones Life, there is a necessity of pressing forwards and self-denying, as there was at the first dawning or rising of the day Star of Godís Mercy and Divine Light; for Experience tells every understanding Man this Truth: Are not many as near the Kingdom the fist Day they entered into self-denial, as they are twenty Years after? And though they pray often, yet their Prayers are not answered, because they have not separated themselves for such things as their good Genius doth forbid them; being so Self- wise, not to obey or observe such little things.
As for Example; The voice of Wisdom faith, Thou shalt drink Water; and tells thee, that it is best not to do; or , to eat no Flesh, Butter, or Cheese, but only to read, or the like: Then recently the Enemy begins to raise Questions, and to dispute the Point; which gives advantage to the Evil Genius within, and also to the Enemies without; for all Relations and Acquaintenance will be ready to give Counsel against it, and judge the thing, and condemn what is unlike and contrary to themselves, or their common Usage and Practice; especially in things they now not, nor have any experience in; but the Voice of Wisdom, if it be hearkened unto, will never leave pruning and dressing Old Adamís Garden, until it be new formed into Virtue and the Fear of the Lord; it will suffer no superfluous Branches to grow, but will cut them of in the bud, and inform Man in all the particulars of his Life, which is right, and the contrary. It will teach him what Foods and Drinks are most profitable both in quantity and quality;it will direct him when to speak, and when to be silent; what words are proper and what not; what Garments are most useful and most beneficial to Nature; as also of Houses, Furniture, Beds, Labour, Exercise, and in a word, all Circumstances belonging to the outward and inward Man; if it will lead him on by degrees, form one thing to another, and teach him the steps of Wisdom, as he becomes capable and obedient.
About this time, being under an extraordinary degree of Abstinence form gross Foods, my Sustenance being chiefly Bread and Water; my Mind and Inclination being intent upon Intellectual Affairs, and endeavoring to penetrate into the Divine and Abstruse Mysteries of Godís Law and amongst other things my Intellectual Powers much busied about the Chymical, or Spagyrical Art of Science; about which, the Philosophers have filed the World with many great Volumes, which treats of the Power and Mystery of changing the forms, (viz.) transmutation of Metals, or the grand Elixir bold making Quality, or Universal Medicine, which seems to contradict Godís Eternal undissolvable Law in Nature; which if any Creature does, it can no longer generate its Species; which puts a Period to that Creature, or thing; as we could demonstrate my many living Testimonies. Thus, as I was meditating and sinking down into a serious Consideration of those marvelous wonders so much talked of, and so little known, and not being able to penetrate into, nor comprehend them; I resolved to commit all those things to God, not doubting but that he would make known to me, all such things, that might be for my Preservation both of Body and Soul; and so I submitted, and composed my Spirits into an harmonious state, and went to Sleep; where was represented to me, the Globe of the Universe, whereon was only written in Capital Golden- Letters, REGENERATION; which to me was a clear manifestation, that Obedience to Godís Laws and Commandments, was the only thing needful to be inquired after; and that there is no other way to obtain the great Mystery and Knowledge of God, his Law, and our selves; but by Self-denial, Cleanness, Temperance, and Sobriety; in Words, Imployments, Meats, and Drinks; all which unites our Souls to God, and our Neighbours; and keeps our Bodies in Health, and our Minds in Serenity; rendering us unpolluted Temples, for the Holy Spirit of god to communicate with.
The truth is, the outward Wisdom of this World, as Arts, Sciences, and mechanical Trades, are a plain Figure of the inward Wisdom, and attained in a like manner; for as Men do learn the outward Arts and Sciences by degrees (viz.) one thing after another, as each becomes capable, beginning with the easiest things first, and so ascend upwards to a perfection therein: The very fame is to be understood of the inward Wisdom of God, and the true Paths of Regeneration, and knowing of god and the Principles of Nature in a Manís self; the Divine manifestation is as true, and ought as much to be regarded as the greatest; and he that hath the greatest fight in Divine Things, sees himself to be more and more wanting, than he that hath the least, if he be a good Christian, and true Philosopher; for Wisdom in an Ocean that hath no Shore; its Prospect is not terminated by any Horizon, but its Centre is everywhere, and its Circumference no where. So in humane Sciences, the greatest Artists see themselves as much wanting, or more, than those that have hardly learned the first Elements thereof. Hence it comes to pass, that Smatterers are the most confident; but deep, solid Men, modest; always ready to acknowledge the greatest part of what they know, is but the least of what they are ignorant of. The very same is to be understood,in the Divine School of Wisdom and Self-denial; therefore it is a very dangerous estate, for any to cease passing on in the Paths of Separation and Regeneration, or content themselves with their first Manifestation, thought the same may be excellent in their Day; but still, it is but the dawning or beginning of the Work of the Lord on the Soul: For this cause, the Apostle Paul takes up a complaint of such, who satisfied themselves with their first Imployments; for they grew so lukewarm or rather keycold for want to obeying Wisdomís Call, pressing to wards the Work of the high Calling of God to a farther Manifestation, that they became, as it were, dead or stupid, and had need to lay again their firsts Principles, (viz.) They had need of their fist Manifestations. This is the very Root and chief Cause why so many in Religion, go rather backwards than forwards, and now, nor do any more than they did at first; nay, not so much: For he that will not improve his Talent, even that he hath, shall be taken from him; and so at last, they grow dead hearted, and sordid in their Conceptions and Opinions, contenting themselves, and resting upon the bare Form, or Ceremony; and if they keep those, and frequent the Church, or any such Religious Meetings as they stand related to, then think all is well- But some may say, Since you speak so much of Self-denial, pray tell us after your first Manifestation, whether you have made any Progress and Separation? If the Paths of Regeneration be only to be obtained in the course your advise, it is sure a difficult thing to be a Christian in good earnest?†To which I answer, That to the Glory of God, and to the Riches of his Mercies, I must acknowledge, that ever since the first dawning of the Day of God in my Soul, Wisdom hath never been wanting unto me, but hath continually directed and appointed out my Work, and what I ought to deny my self, and separate myself from, every Day, hour and Moment; thouí to say sorrow, I have often disobeyed her Voice; but whenever I have adhered unto her Dictates, Refreshments, Joy, and Comfort, in the Mystery of my own wonderful Nature; for Man is wonderfully made, as the Psalmist affirms- But to come to particulars, I shall tell you some of the Advertisements and Counsels of Wisdom. Sometimes I should be commanded to eat no Butter, Cheese, Eggs nor Milk, not any Product of the Animal Kingdom; for some Days Weeks or Months; and at other times, how I ought to speak and carry myself to my Neighbours and Friends, and averted; as that I ought not, at every turn, to reveal the Holy Secrets the Lord had by his Wisdom made known into my Soul; minding me that Silence was an excellent Virtue in its season, the Strengthener of Wisdom, and Pleasure and Joy of the Soul; and that I should not be forgetful of the Ways of Wisdom, but at all Times and Seasons to put them in practice: ON the other hand, this good Genius would instruct me in proper opportunities of speaking, and that in such cases I should not be ashamed (as many young Students in this school are) of practicing and speaking for the truth with courage and boldness, before Superiors and Inferiors; and that it ought to be a Manís chief Pleasure, to set his Light on the Top of a Hill, that all may receive the benefit of it, if the will; for God makes Men his Instruments to do his own work, and no childish shame or discouragement ought to cloud the Soul in its Duties, but that it ought to go on courageously in Self denial and well doing and then Wisdom will crown its Followers with Happiness in this World, and with Eternal Life in the world to come.
But I†cannot but give my own Testimony, that on this kind of Separation and Self-denial, I have found greater Benefit and Satisfaction, than I†can express in Words: The Spirit of Wisdom being wonderfully strengthened thereby, the Mind illuminated, and the Body and Soul fitted and prepared to be what they were intended to by the sacred Temples of the Son of Righteousness, the Fountain of Light and Love) which enlightens the Spirit of Understanding, keeping it vigorous and lively, so that it gets the uppermost in the Heart and Soul; as is evident by the words and Works, Discourses and Actions of the Followers of Wisdom for that Principle which has obtained the Dominion in the Heart, will be alway active, blossoming and budding forth Fruit, according to its own Nature; and he that continually presses on in good Works, in Self denial, Abstinence, Temperance, and an Innocent Life, will have more and more Understanding bestowed upon him, as I my self (thoí altogether unworthy) can in some measure witness, to the Praise and glory of the wonderful Creator, and Father of Light and Wisdom: and therefore if it should happen that the things which the Voice of Wisdom calls t thee to abstain from, or commands thee to, should seem little or of no moment, yet fail not to adhere to thy inward Oracle, with out mistrusting or disputing with thy Guide. Who ever doubts or mistrusts, and goes out of himself, and wanders abroad for a Director, is in danger to be captivated by the Clouds of Darkness, or fettered
in the Chains of Tradition and Custom: For those things Men in their own overweening Wisdom frequently call little and mean, or fancie and humours, many times lead and conduct into the Sanctuary of Truth and Righteousness, and those that flight those Motions, Ways, and Dealing of the Lord, are in danger never to know any thing either of Gold, or themselves, or any other thing, as they ought.
Some others may cavil and say, that to eat nothing but Bread and Water-gruel, or the like; and drink altogether Water, will not abstain Nature in Strength and Vigor. To which I can truly say, That I never found them fail, but on the contrary was rather more nimble, brisk, easy and fulsome, as it were like the Volatile Troops of the Aerial Regions, feeling a most pleasant Alacrity through the whole Body. I found myself likewise, more fit for Meditation, and the contemplation of Divine and Natural things:; For Abstemiousness and clean Living makes the Spirit of Wisdom powerful in Operation, and gives such full joy and satisfaction to the Observers thereof, that they are, as it were, upon all occasions forced to speak of the Excellence and great Benefit of Self-denial, Cleanness, and Temperance: But the advantages of clean innocent living, we have discoursed in several of our Books, and have sufficiently answered this and all other Objections.
Having in this manner engaged my self in Self-denial and Separation, I married a sober young Woman, but of a contrary Sentiment to mine, as to Diet, and my method of living. The chief inducement to the Match (after my own youthful Inclinations and Affections) was the Promises I had made her before I had taken upon me this course of Separation and Self-denial, which Promises I resolved to perform; thinking it highly unlawful to violate any contract of that nature; but withal steadfastly resolved, that no artifice or courteous insinuation should pervert me from my innocent way of living, but that I would still persevere therein through the Divine Assistance.
About Two Years after Marriage, I took a Voyage to Barbadoes, where I staid about a Year; but in some little time after my return home, I†went for Holland; but my Errand there not succeeding to my expectations, I quickly returned home; and after a short stay, went again for Barbadoes, where I continued about Four Years, making Beavers to Success. During some part of this time, I was mightily stirred up to a more than ordinary Abstinence, which call of Wisdom I obeyed, and lived for some Weeks on Bread and Water, the liberty of Eggs, Milk, Butter, and Cheese and every thing proceeding from the Animal Kingdom, being denied me; in which the Lord manifested himself to me most wonderfully, and taught and shewed me many great mysteries; which Mercy and Love I hope I shall never forget. After this I†returned for England, and settled for altogether with my Wife; and before my Voyages, and after, had Five Children, Two Sons and Three Daughters.3 About Five and Thirty Years, I attempted to learn Music and having a natural propensity thereto, made a pretty good progress on the Bass-viola, thoí during the time of my learning, I was as assiduous, and stuck as close to my working Trade, as ever before; so that I could only apply an hour of Two to Music, taking my opportunities at Night, or in the Morning as I could; and the time others spent in a Coffee-house or Tavern, I spent in Reading, Writing, Music, or some useful Imployment; by which means I†supplied what I could the defect of Education: And yet for all this, I must with grief acknowledge that I did not make the best use of my time, but spent too many Hours trivially and to little purpose; but upon recollection would always check and condemn my self, as every Man must needs to who considers the preciousness of time, and especially the balefulness of Idleness, how contrary a trifling and idle Life is to the Methods of our great and wonderful Creator, and the Presidents he has set us in all his wonderful Works in Nature. But alas how common is it for Men to spend the most part of their short Lives in vain, either being Idle, or doing what amounts to nothing, or is worse than nothing. Most Men are so ignorant and so blind, that they know not how to spend and Evening, or a Day, when they are out of their ordinary Imployment, but in some Game, Play, or Diversion; or in Company in an Ale-house, Coffee-house or Tavern, uttering False or uncertain News, censuring their Superiors, telling stories, or in some frothy, if not lewd Discourse: And what is worse, they give not themselves time to recollect or look about them and weigh those foolish Methods in the the Sanctuary, the Balance of Wisdom. Thus strangely do most Men spend their Lives; sometimes they are in a hurry, and know not what to do for want of time; anon they know not how to pass the time away without some Diversion or company; such a burden to them is time, which flies away with so winged speed, and when once gone, is irretrievable. The Country Gentleman, heís for the City, tempted with the variety of Pleasures and luxurious Vanities thereof: And the Citizen can rarely be long easy in the Country, but complains heís melancholy for want of Company, and knows not how to spend his time; not considering that Man is the City, in which the Wise Man faith, That Wisdom keeps her Court, which is the best of Company; and if her Voice be hearkened unto, she will teach Man all Mysteries. Wherefore it is truly said, that the Wife of Man is never alone, but is always attended like a King, with a wonderful multitude of Angels and good Spirits, to assist, instruct, and preserve him. How is the Wife of Man ravished with the speculations of all things about him? Who can lift up his Eyes to Heaven and observe the Sun or Moon in their Splendour, the vast number of Stars, their wonderful regular motions? Who can receive the refreshing Breezes of the Air, or consider the Wonders of the Wind; Who can behold the Earth adorned with the glorious Liveries of Flowers, Herbs, Corn and Fruits? Who can consider the Revolutions of Kingdoms and States, and the uncertainty of humane Affairs? Who can consider the Riches of his own Nature, and the wonderful properties and faculties thereof? Who can consider these, or any of these things as, he ought, and have any time to spare? Or who that has any Eyes to see, can find any pleasure like what the Contemplation of those things affords to the discerning Mind, especially the consideration of the human nature? For Man being the Image of†God, is an Epitome of the whole Creation; let him look where he will, or on what he will, he still sees (if his Eyes can discern) something of his own Resemblance, and that participates in some measure of his Nature; For as Man participates of the Nature of all things, so all things participates of his, in one Degree or another . So that whatever he looks on, i will Illustrate, and make himself more known to himself: But, if Man looks abroad without this Self-application, he does no otherwise than the Herds their Fodder, or a Child its Babies. The Knowledge of a Manís Self, is a Key to the Knowledge of all other things: but this is Self-knowledge is never the Subject of Discourse in a Public House. NO, thou must retire within thy self, and by turning thy Mind inwards, and living Temperately, Innocently, and Abstemiously, obeying the Voice of Wisdom, thou wilt attain that Rich Treasure which is accompanied with incomprehensible Satisfaction. By imploying our time, as we mentioned before, and living strictly in our Method of Self-denial, it pleased the Lord to make manifest to me many things which I†never fought, or so much as thought of in the beginning of my Separation: But besides endeavoring to put the Day into lawful Usury, I made all lawful Advantages, even of the Hours of my Repose, by minding and having regard to the Visitations and Communications of good Angels in my Dreams, and Nocturnal Representations to the wakeful Soul, while the bodily and outward Senses were suspended from their Functions. And hereby having received great Instruction, was moved to write something of Dreams and Visions for the Benefit and Information of the Lovers of Wisdom.
About the 48th Year of my Age, I had an inward Instigation to Write and Publish something to the World: and this Impression was upon my Spirit to that degree, that I could not be satisfied, till I had set down in Writing several things the Lord had manifested to me, relating both to Divine and Natural Wisdom; recommending to the World Temperance, Cleanness, and Innocency of Living; and admonishing Mankind against Violence, Oppression, and Cruelty, either to their own Kind, or any inferior Creatures, giving them Wisdomís Bill of Fare, what Foods and Drinks are most proper for preserving the Health, and Cheerfulness, both of Body and Mind. I writ down several Mysteries relating to God, and his Government in the Methods of Nature, which I had not be hearsay, nor borrowed from other Authors, but as they were impressed upon me by my good Genius through the Mercy of God. And if any be awakened by my Writings, and stirred up to obey Wisdomís Voice, which is continually crying aloud to them from the Center of their own Hearts; let them give the Praise and Glory to the Almighty Power: To whose Innocent Laws, if they would heartily submit themselves, he would make himself more an d more known unto them, and fill their Minds not only with Knowledge, but with a full Peace and compleat satisfaction.
And now Reader, thou haft had all the Information of the Life of Mr. Tryon, which he can give thee under the Warrant of his own Writing: But knowing that all such as him, or his Character well, will be stunned when they find so little said, where there was so ample a Field of Matter worthy relating; and that little too scarce with due connection: And ending, as it were, in the middle of the Scene of his Life, at the 48th Year of his Age; and Age when Men commonly are most known, most active, and their Actions most remarkable, and best worth relating; and that the publishing of those Memoirs should be delayed Eighteen Months after his Decease, and at last not be Perfected, knowing that the judicious reader will have all those things in his thoughts, makes it needful that we give him some Satisfaction therein.
And First, that the Character of the Deceased may not be injured (for some say) if he had an Intention to have his Life Published, and for that End had himself writ a Memorial thereof; What carelessness was it to leave it so Imperfect, and to cut it shorter by Twenty and One Years than his Great Creator had done? Had he been doing nothing during that time? Did nothing happen worth relating to Posterity? Had not he many Occasions of praising the Divine Goodness, his thankfulness whereto he declares to have been one Principal Motive to his writing those Memoirs of his own Life?4
We must here acknowledge that those Memoirs here Published, are not what he intended for the Press. We doubt not but those he intended for the Press were Exact, continued in a Series of time, from Year to Year, and enriched with a great many particulars, which would have mightily tended to the Edification of Devout, Serious and Sober-minded People. What loss then is it, that those Memoirs which were so carefully Collected, and to which he had put his last Polishing Hand, were not as carefully preserved. Those Memoirs now spoken of, were not to be found in the place where he assigned them to be; neither can we now, after Eighteen Months search, find them out, which is the Reason we now Publish these; and it is the Reason why these were not Published sooner. And hoping however, that these will contribute something to thy Satisfaction, and stir thee up likewise to Praise and Reverence thy great Creator, whose Goodness is extended over all his Creatures, and glory and Power manifest in all his Works; shall proceed to give thee an Account of the Death of this our Author, which happened the 21st of August, 1703, of the Strangury or Retention of Urine; Aged Sixty Nine Years, wanting Sixteen Days. The Eleventh in the Morning his cruel Distemper took him; and during the whole Ten Days pursued him with the most racking and intense Pains imaginable, with very little intermission; all which he bore with greater Patience, Submission, and Resignation than is easy to express. by his regular and simple way of Living, and by his exact Temperance for many Years, he had so Fortified his Constitution, and kept his Body so clean, and in such temper>, that even the long continuance of those unspeakable Pains, made no way for any Fever; neither could the Physicians discover any Symptom of a distempered Body, but his Retention of Urine; which in all likelihood was occasioned by some natural decay of the proper Officers for the digesting thereof, and transmitting it to the Bladder, to which the Learned agreed it did not descend. He was of middle Stature, a little stooping or incurvated, Slender, but well compacted, active and nimble, his Eyes small, a little sinking into his Head, his Aspect easily discovering something Extraordinary; his Air cheerful, lively and brisk, but grave, with something of Austerity, thoí he was of the easiest access; but notwithstanding he was no strong Make, yet through his great Temperance, Regularity and prudent Management of himself, by the Strength of his Spirits and Vigor of his Mind, he was capable of any fatigue, even to his last Illness, equally with any of the best Constitution of half his Years, though all his life time he had been a Man of unwearied application, and so indefatigable, that it may be as truly said of him, as ever was, or possibly can be said of any Man, that he was never Idle; but of such dispatch, that thoí Providence had allotted him great a multiplicity of Business, as perhaps to any one of his Contemporaries; yet without any neglect thereof, he found leisure to make such a search into Nature, into almost all Arts and Sciences; of some whereof he was an Improver, and of all innocent and useful Ones an Encourager and Promoter. In his Conversation he was easy, cheerful and free, but always Serious, rarely or never laughing, never using any frothy vain lewd Talking, Jesting, or Levity, using no Sports of Pastimes, as they are called, the contemplation of our great Creator,and his Works in Nature; Music, or the like, taking up all the interval of Business. He was a true Father in his Family, and to all allied to him, who had occasion for his helping hand (who were not a few ) a sure Support, not only relieving the Necessities of the Old, but endeavoring the the Preservation of the Young, by putting them into suitable Imployments, and marrying his young Female Relations, and the like; and notwithstanding his liberal Distributions in his Life time, left in his Will, to every one of his poor Relations, Legacies suitable to their several Stations; neither did he confine his Charity or good Offices, to the Necessitous of his own Family, but in whatsoever Neighbourhood he dwelt, through many of them may carp at him for the Singularity, as they call it, of his Way of Living; yet the Poor will testify his Charity, and Poor and Rich, his just, friendly, peaceable and neighbourly Behaviors. And in his Will likewise, he left liberally to the Place of his Birth, of his Habitation, and of his Burial. What more can be needful, Reader, but that thou imitate him? For where canst thou find a better Pattern?
Thomas Tryon Memoir footnotes:
1. The reporting of Thomas of his life directing awareness of God via his dreams is fascinating, to say the least. One can easily speculate now that his Master, being a loyal and zealous member of the Anabaptist Church, managed to put into the mind of Thomas sufficient material to have caused the young man to really have the dreams so reported! There is no indication that Thomas had any early religious training. So, he was certainly at an impressionable age and with a late start in learning to read, he was clearly Ďbentí in the direction so likely from his surroundings.
2. This section shows how industrious and resourceful Thomas became at an early age. His skill at devising ways to outperform the requirements of each occupation is clearly indicated. So it is not surprising that he found time to be involved in some very profitable industry- most likely export-import. Yet, he speaks nothing of it in his memoirs as if to say that it was all very private and perhaps out of character with the message of obedience to Wisdomís Dictates!
3. This is the only reference to his five children noted in passing before reflecting upon at some length about his effort to master some form of stringed musical instrument. His writings therefore give one to believe that he spent little time with his children, had no more than a brief exchange of messages with his father back in Bibury (no doubt his father could not read) and so he apparently accepted the idea that procreation was a responsibility that he assisted on at least five occasions- the rest was up to his wife, who only had to follow his detailed instructions! No modern woman would have stayed with this chap, but back then none had any alternative and most may have found it easy in their relative ignorance to accept the status quo. In the case of his wife, she may have felt rather advantaged!
4. Self justification for his Memoirs seems to have been a bit of a problem for Thomas, who apparently had some pangs of humility while enjoying a notion that he had some important things to say about his life. Most modern readers will agree that the important words could have been set down in far fewer pages! And so many things that would have told so much more about him and his family were left out! No doubt the most instructive words about the man are unstated. He simply was the victim of his own life experiences and the age in which he lived. He apparently understood charity and wrote a lot about our obligations to the poor, but he recited nothing to show that he was ever involved in any such activity himself!