A treatise of original sin ... proving that it is, by pregnant texts of Scripture vindicated from false glosses
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.


A two-fold weaknesse of Memory.

IN the second place, While we speak of the weaknesse of the Memory about good things, we must take notice of a two-fold weaknesse, a Natural weak∣nesse, and a sinfull weaknesse; a Natural weaknesse is that which ariseth from the constitution of the body, and unfit temperature of the brain, for though the actions of the understanding be immaterial, to know and to remember, yet they require the body as the Organ and the Instrument; So that as the most artificial Musician cannot discover his skill upon an Instrument whose strings are out of or∣der, so neither can the understanding of a man put forth its noble actions, when the body is out of order; Hence we read that some diseases, or other events have deprived men of their memory, so that they have forgot their own name. By this we see, That the soul doth act dependently upon the body, being the form informing of a man, and giving his being and operations to him. Now it's usefull to know this distinction; for many good people, especially when grown in year, do much complain that their memory is gone; They cannot carry away Page  251 so much of a Sermon, or from good Books, as once they did, and this doth much grieve them, they look upon themselves as drones, and not Bees, that car∣ry home honey from every flower, but this may support them, that this is a na∣tural affect in the memory, not a sinfull one; For as Aristotle observeth (Lib. de Memoriâ & Reminiscentiâ.) neither in children, or in old men, is there such a capacity for memory, in children, because of the too much moisture; And there∣fore it is (saith he) as if a man should imprint a Seal in the water, which because of its fluid nature would receive no impression, nor in old men is there such a capacity of memory, because of their drinesse and siccity, as if a man should imprint a seal upon a dry peice of wood, it would not receive any forme or character. If then in thy old age, thy memory faileth, know this is a natural imbecillity, as sickness and pain is not a sinne. Others again they abuse this distinction, for when they are urged to holy duties, called upon to remember what hath been preached, then they excuse themselvs with their bad memory, God help them they have an ill memory; but if thou hast a memory for other things, jests and merry tales, or businesses of profit, and no memory for holy things; This is thy sinne, thou hast no memory in the these good things, because thou hast no heart, no delight about them, as is more to be shewed: Yea, I must adde, that though a natural weaknesse in the memory be not a sinne, yet it is the fruit of sinne, and so ought deeply to humble thee, for thy memory would have had no such defects and weaknesses, if Adam had not fallen: As therefore diseases and death, though they be not sinne, yet are the effects of sinne, and therefore we are to humble our selves under them, so thou art to do under thy imperfect me∣mory, though sicknesse or old-age hath much impaired it.