Page images

(3.) Remembrance, imports application, and believing appropriation. On God's part, it imports his acceptance; Psalm xx. 3, "Remember all thy offerings;" but how? it is added, "and accept thy burnt-sacrifice." Thus persons should so remember God, as to accept and meditate on him: so ver. 7, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God;" we are resolved to depend only on God. When our Lord saith of his supper, "Do this in remembrance of me," doubtless he means application and improvement. Alas, what comfort can we take in God or Christ, unless we fiducially own him as ours: this is the main thing in religion. Our duty lies in adverbs, our comfort in possessives. The remembrance of God strikes terror into an uninterested soul. What is God, if he be not my God?* And what are we better for him, (savingly) if we do not appropriate him? Hence, saith the church, Isa. xxvi. 8, " The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee." O sirs, this is the very life and marrow of your remembering your Creator, by owning him as your Father in Christ; "This is life eternal, that they might know (not by mere speculation, but believing application,) thee to be the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Faith can reach as high as heaven, and embrace far distant objects:† yea, such is the nature of faith, that it can really appropriate all in God, and in Christ, and in the promises of the word, to itself, and make them its


observation, and a The life must correpeats it, that his

(4.) Remembrance, imports a practical conversation suitable to this remembrance. respond with the belief; hence God often people must remember, and do all God's commandments. David saith, "I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law." Practical remembrance is most useful and comfortable. Men do truly remember no more than they practice. Head-knowledge signifies little, without lively workings in the heart, and holy works in the life. If you could say all the bible by heart, if you have not the law of God written on your heart, and transcribed in your life, it were not of any worth. Some have had prodigious memories, they could repeat whole sermons, and give an account of volumes; yet they have forgotten their duty: this will prove a complicated, aggravated sin. Thy head challenges thy feet, and thy wicked heart perverts both. A strong memory contradicted by an obstinate will, leaves the possessor inexcusable. Science, without conscience, is a torch to light men to hell; dictates of conscience, without Quid est Deus, si non sit meus.

Heb. xi. 13.

practical compliance, will prove a faggot to increase the unquenchable fire. Know as much as you can; remember what you have learned; and practise what you do remember. Remember the rule, and square every step by it. Let memory retain, that life may profit by, divine truths.

Thus I have despatched the first head, what is implied and intended in this word, remember, and remembering our Creator.

II. The next inquiry to occupy our attention is, how young persons may use their memories, so as to promote religion? Or, what helps they may employ to assist them in their remembering their great Creator.

First, A natural, artificial, and spiritual memory must be distinguished,

1. There is a natural memory in man, and also in brutes.* Every man hath something of memory. Cœlius Rhodiginus tells us of the hart, that it hath so bad a memory, that if it be feeding and hungry, yet if it look up, it forgets what it was doing, and seeks a new pasture: and the historian informs us of a man, that had forgotten his own name; that however might be occasioned by falls, blows, or diseases. But all men, naturally, have a memory. The philosophers observe, the dullest geniuses for invention have often the most tenacious memories; so things that receive slowest impressions, as a stone, keep them the longest; but wax and water have quick impressions, and they are soon lost. This however is certain, that some men have naturally far better memories than others; experience demonstrates this: but this is not the memory I am speaking of, except as the foundation of what follows.

2. There is an artificial memory; some in this way have arrived at a prodigious degree of retentiveness of memory. Seneca, by artificially improving his memory, could repeat two thousand names in order, and two hundred verses, beginning with the first syllables at the end. Many other instances have been given us of the stupendous memories which some have had; but this is not the recollection I design, yet we make use of lawful helps to further our remembrance.

3. There is a spiritual memory, that is, the natural faculty of the soul spiritualized. (1.) Subjectively, by renewing the faculties, or (2.) Objectively, by fixing the memory on other and better objects than it was wont to think upon. Our Lord tells us, John xiv. 26, that the Holy Ghost shall bring all things to our remembrance. This is done immediately by the Spirit's assisting the memory, as he doth the mind, will, and affections, in other duties, helping our infirmities; † or else through the • Memoria in brutis, reminiscentia in hominibus.

+ Rom. viii. 26.

medium of ministers and ordinances, and even by the endeavours of Christians with themselves, using God's appointed means to quicken and fortify their memories. It is thus that I shall answer this query: :-What helps must a young man employ to further his soul in his remembering of God, and divine things? 1. Learn to know what the memory is, and of what use it may be in religion. Memory is a wonderful faculty. Cicero admires it, and calls it, a remarkable evidence of the divinity.* Augustine calls it, the internal receptacle, dens, or caverns of the mind, where it lays up what it receives. Neither of them can tell where the memory is seated. But the scripture saith, Luke i. 66, they "laid them up in their hearts;" and "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart," Luke ii. 19; in her heart, in a moral, if not in a natural sense: heart memory is the best memory. Heathens can tell us that, Mnemosyne is the mother of the muses: I am sure memory is needful in divinity. What are we better for what we hear unless we remember it? The apostle saith of the gospel, that by it we are saved, if we keep in memory what is preached, else we believe in vain; he means the substance of gospel doctrine, though not every particular sentence. Bring this to thy conscience, shall I hear in vain, read in vain, believe in vain, and so ruin my own soul? God forbid, the matter is of infinite importance. I must look after a good memory, or I neglect and endanger my salvation. God forbid, I should excuse myself with saying, I have a bad memory, God looks for no more than he gives. I have a memory and must use it to his glory; I can remember worldly things, and why not spiritual ?

2. Rest not contented with an unsanctified heart. A gracious heart will help to a tenacious memory. "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, soul, and body may be preserved blameless;" this will take in the memory. O that in the inmost part, the Lord would "make me to know wisdom;" that "my reins might instruct me in the night seasons."|| God's image is in all wisdom, righteousness, and true holiness.§ A habit of grace in the heart would be a bias in the soul to incline it God-wards; grace gives wings to all the faculties to mount aloft. Nothing strengthens the unstable memory so much as grace; the memory is without tightness, and lets all good out; but grace stops the chinks of this leaky vessel. It is grace only that "renews a right,” in the margin, constant "spirit within." Grace only expels those

* Insigne divinitatis argumentum. + Animi ventrem, antra, cavernas. 1 Cor. xv. 1, 2. Psal. li. 6. xvi. 7. Col. iii. 10. Eph. iv. 24. Psal. li. 10.

1 Thess. v. 23.

[ocr errors]

swarms of vain thoughts that lodge in me, and fills every corner of my heart with something of God. O "unite my heart to fear thy name;" engage my whole soul to thee. If God have something within me, I shall not forget him and his benefits ;* that which is heaven-born will surely be mounting heavenwards.

for me.

3. Be sure of being savingly related to God, and interested in Christ. Relation is the root of remembrance: "Can a maid forget her ornaments? Can a woman forget her sucking child?”+ In a public edict a man will be sure to retain in his memory what relates to his own case and tenure. "Hear thou it and know it for thy good;" if you cannot think of all the sermon, secure at least what concerns thyself; say, this is for me. The language of the believer is, "Who loved me, and gave himself He is my God and I will prepare him a habitation (in my heart;) my father's God, and I will exalt him." Interest or property is an excellent help to memory: if Jehu forget other things, yet he can remember a prophecy that related to himself against the house of Ahab, 2 Kings ix. 25, 26. If you will not remember others' concerns, yet surely you will remember your own. Will a man forget to eat his meat or put on his clothes? Surely if God were your God, though you could think of nothing else, you would with Thomas break out into a rapture, and cry, "My Lord and my God;" || he forgot all to think of this, and this word my was a special memorandum.

4. Endeavour to increase in your hearts the flame of divine love. Men cannot forget what they love: the rich old usurer will not forget where he laid his bag of gold. Love frequently reviews the object, and so renews decaying memory. Things highly esteemed by us, are deeply imprinted in us; a warm heart will influence the head; strong affections will be prevalent arguments. The man thinks of his beloved when waking, and dreams of her when sleeping; he cannot forget her, every thing he sees puts him in mind of her so would it be if your heart were wrapt in the flame of love: "Set me as a seal upon thy heart;" what follows? 66 as a seal upon thine arm."§ Observe it, that which is on the heart in point of affection, will be on the arm as to observation and remembrance. Love much and you remember well; what has affected your heart you cannot easily forget. David's heart was depressed very low at times, and then raised very high in the actings of faith, and it rests upon his spirits long after: so he saith Psalm xlii. 5, 6, "O my God, my soul is cast down within me, therefore will I re

Psal. lxxxvi. 11. ciii. 1, 2.
Job v. 27. Gal. ii. 20. Exod. xv. 2.

+ Jer. ii. 32. || John xx. 28.

Isa. xlix. 15.
§ Song viii. 6.

member thee from the land of Jordan and of the Hermonites :" David upon the throne cannot forget poor David a fugitive.

5. Take pains with your spirits, to work things on your heart. Experience tells us what wonderful memories some dull people have arrived at with taking pains. It is not to say what God's blessing and man's industry may produce; the more weight is laid on the seal, the deeper impression is made on the wax. Memory carries the image of things: often viewing things begets lively images: thinking oft on truths is harrowing the seed, it covers that which else would be picked up or washed away. "Meditate on these things, give thyself wholly to them :" * transient glance will not do, you must work things into your spirits. You must incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; cry, lift up your voice, seek, search for it as for hidden treasures :-then you shall understand the fear of the Lord, Prov. ii. 2-8. Let a burning glass be slightly. passing, though the stuff be never so combustible, it takes no hold; but if it be fixed, the sun-beams unite and kindle fire: just so it is," Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us?"+ Serious recollection brings strong impressions. An apple when tossed in the hand, leaveth the smell and odour of it behind, so do truths.


6. Compare things together, if you cannot remember things by themselves taken abstractedly; yet when you form ideas of things in your mind, a visible object may bring to recollection something invisible: as the sight of one man may put you in mind of another that you had forgotten, thus an artificial memory is produced. But I shall only give you one instance: when God has delivered a prophecy or a promise, and we forget it, when we see any thing like an accomplishment, it will bring the first notice of it into our remembrance. When former prophets threatened judgment, and it came to pass, then they could call menaces to mind and "Like as the Lord of Hosts thought to do unto us, so hath he dealt with us," Zech. i. 6. When the disciples saw Christ's zeal, they remembered the prophecy, "The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up," John ii. 17. And after his resurrection, they remembered Christ's expression, which was not only a monitor, but a key to unlock that mystery. ‡ Jesus's miracles brought John's preaching to their remembrance, and became a means of their believing: so may you, when ministers are dead and gone. Think, O now I remember, how frequently and seriously such a good man inculcated such a truth; it comes fresh into my thoughts as if it had been but spoken yesterday; now I feel the truth of what he 1 Tim. iv. 15. + Luke xxiv. 32.

See Acts xi. 16. Luke xxii. 61.

« PreviousContinue »