Of the Pollution of the Memory.
2 PET. 1. 12.
THe original pollution of the Mind and Conscience hath at large been declared; We proceed now to the Memory, which belongeth also to the intellectual part of a man: And as Philosophy inform∣eth us, That it is the treasurer which conserveth the species, so Divinity will inform us, That it is an evil treasure, or shop, wherein are stored up all kinds of evil.
The Text mentioned will suppeditate fit matter for this Doctrine. And First, We must diligently explain the words, wherein we may take notice,
1. Of the illative particle, or note of inference, [Wherefore.] He had ex∣horted them, To give all diligence to make their calling and election sure, A necessary duty. We strive to make our outward estate, and the evidences of that sure; but make sure of Heaven, make sure of an interest in Christ; for this assurance will be a cordial to thee in thy greatest extremities, it will make thee above the love of life, and the fear of death. This duty he encourageth unto by the consequent benefit thereof, Hereby an entrance shall be abundantly ministred unto you, into the everlasting kingdome of Jesus Christ; And having laid this foundation, he brings in the infere•e in my Text, Wherefore I will alwayes put you in remembrance of these things. These truths are so necessary, so excellent, that you are to have them alwayes in your mind; and withall, your memories though regenerate are so weak and sinfull, that you need perpetual Monitors and promp∣ters to possesse your souls with these things.
In the second place, we have the Apostle Peter's care, purpose and diligence expressed, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I will not be negligent; The Vulgar Latine renders it, Incipiam, I will begin Estius thinketh it did read 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but that word is never used, and therefore Estius doth from the Latine go to the Greek Copies, which is a practice contrary to the Tridentine Doctrine. The word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, is used for to neglect, to have no regard, to slight and make no matter of a thing, Heb. 2. 3. only when the Apostle expresseth his care negatively, I will not, we must remember that rule given by Interpreters, that Adverbs of de∣nying do often express the contrary with the greater Emphasis, I will not be negli∣gent, that is, I will be very diligent and industrious.
Page 248 Thirdly, You have the Object matter about which this diligence is exercised, and that is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; The word signifieth to bring to mind, to cause to remem∣ber,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 signifieth any short writing, whereby any thing is brought to our mind: The word is used in other places, which will be improved in pursuing the Doctrine. This is enough for the present that the holy Apostle doth not disdain to become a Monitor and Remembrancer unto them, being in this an instrument of the holy Ghost, whose work it is to bring things to our mind, which are for∣gotten.
Fourthly, You have the aggravation of this from the time, He will put them in remembrance alwayes; He will be the good Prophet that will lift up his voice and not cease; They must not think his importunity and frequent admonitions needlesse and uncivil; They need this duty alwayes from him, and therefore in season and out of season, he will suggest it to them.
Lastly, There is a further aggravation from the qualification of those he will thus remind, Though ye know and be established is the truth; This is consider∣able, they had the true knowledge of these things, if they had been ignorant, if they had not yet understood these things none would wonder at this diligence, but though they know these things, yet he dare not omit this importunity. Again, though they did know, yet they might be wavering and staggering, ready to apostatize from this they did know; No, they are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, established, firmly setled and fixed, and yet their minds and memories need many divine helps to excite and stirre them up, yea this duty upon their memories is so great and ne∣cessary, that the Apostle further amplifieth himself herein, as if enough could not be said about it; For at the next verse, he giveth us a reason of this faithful∣nesse and diligence, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I think it fit, or just and righteous; It did belong to him as an Apostle, he could not do what was his duty, if he did fail herein, and that not for once, but continually, as long as he was in this Taber∣nacle, he calleth his body a Tabernacle, that is, Nomen pastorale, and militare, it denoteth the shortness and brevity of his abode in the world, and then the great hardship and difficulty he was to conflict with; It implieth, he was but a stran∣ger here, as all the godly are; and therefore whereas the Cretians called those places they had on purpose to receive and lodge strangers in 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the same word did the Church use and apply to the Burial places of believers, signifying hereby, that they were pilgrims and strangers: He useth also a significant word for his death, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which is applied to the people of Israel, when they came out of Egypt, a place of bondage, and the Ironsornace. so is this world to the godly, therefore death is an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Now in this expression also is couched a rea∣son, why he will not cease to put them in mind of these truths, for he shall not be long with them, he will work while he hath day; he remembers that command of our Saviour, Negotiamini, work be diligent merchants to increase spiritual gain, while I come.
Again, There is another latent reason of this duty in the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to stirre up; It is used of those who awaken any out of sleep, Luke 8. 24. So that this supposeth even the memories of the most godly to be, as it were, dull and sleepy, very heavy and negligent about what they ought to be diligently exerci∣sed with But yet the Apostle hath not said all his mind herein, for vers. 15. he professeth this care of his for the good of their memories shall extend even after his death, I will endeavour that after my decease, you may have these things alwayes in remembrance. Now that would be done by these very Epistles, they would be as continual memento's to them. See then here the godly zeal and faithfull dili∣gence of a godly Pastor, it extends to the future as well as the present, he is afraid after his decease, all he had preached should be forgotten; And doth not expe∣rience sadly confirm this? After the death of a godly Minister, How quickly are all his labours, all whose precious truths he had made known forgotten, as if they Page 249 never had such a Preacher amongst them? However, if these soul-saving truths be forgotten, Peter will take care that the sinne should not lie at his door, he will be faithfull to do his duty. And Chap. 3. 1. take notice how again he taketh up this profession of his care and zeal to help their memories. He wrote both these Epistles to stirre up their pure minds by way of remembrance. Their pure minds 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, such as are discovered and tried (as it were) by the Sunne∣beams, the least more, any vain thoughts or sinfull motions are discovered and abandoned, yet though they have such pure minds, he writeth Epistle upon Epi∣stle to stirre them up by remembrance; and as if all this were not enough to quicken up their memory, the Apostle Jude writing to the same persons doth al∣most write the same things verbatim, which the Apostle Peter had written in this second Epistle, and vers. 4. he proclaimeth this to be his end, To put them in remembrance, though once they knew this; It was for their memories sake by way of exhortation, not for their understandings by way of instruction. Now from all this we may gather,
That such is the weaknesse and sinfulnesse of the memory, and that even in the regenerate, that they need daily divine helps to provoke it to its duty. And whereas the sinfulness of our memory may be two wayes, either actually by a wilfull forgetting of holy things, and a carelesse neglect of them; or original, where∣by the memory through Adam's fall, as well as the other parts of the soul, are become all over unsanctified, and hath no sutablenesse or proportion to divine objects and holy duties. I shall speak of this later, though as expressing and em∣ptying it self into actual and wilfull forgetfulnesse, for of this original and native pollution of the memory, must we understand this Text in a great measure, which the Apostle by frequent filing would get off, as so much rust, seeing he writeth to those that are sanctified, and as also he speaketh of this as a permanent and an abiding weaknesse in them; Now in the regenerate all contracted habits of sinne, are expelled by vertue of the new birth; And as for actual sinnes, they are transient, so that there remaineth no other defilement, but original, and the re∣liques or immediate products thereof: If then the most holy do need quickning helps to their memory, because of the dulnesse and slownesse in it about holy things; It is plain, the memory, as well as the other faculties of the soul, is de∣praved by original sinne; and if in the sanctified person the memory hath this partial and gradual sinfulnesse in the unregenerate, and natural man, it must be all over polluted and made unsavoury about any good thing. Observe,
That the memory of every man by nature is wholly polluted by original sinne. It cannot perform those offices and acts for these holy ends, as it was at first in∣abled to do in the state of integrity. It will be very usefull and profitable to ana∣tomize the sinfulnesse of the memory, as we have done of the other intellectual powers, for it is from the pollution of this part that all wickednesse is commit∣ted. The Scripture makes this the character of all wicked men, That they for∣get God. Psal. 9. 17. implying, That if we did remember God, his Great∣nesse, his Power, his holy Will, we should not fall into any sinne: Inso∣much that we may in some sense say, All they evil is committed, because of thy evil and sinfull memory, hadst thou remembred such and such threat∣nings, such and such places of Scripture, they would have preserved thee from this impiety.
What we mean by Memory.
TWo things must be premised before we enter into the main matter:
First, What we mean by the memory. Aristotle wrote a little Book about Memory and Remembrance (De Memoriâ & Reminiscentiâ) and from him ma∣ny have taken up large and uselesse Disputes herein. It is not my purpose to teach you with these thorns, it is enough that there is acknowledged a sensitive memory, which is common to men with beasts, and an intellective, though that be question∣ed, but against all reason, for the soul separated doth remember, as appeareth in that Parable, where Abraham said to Dives, Sonne, remember thou hast recei∣ved the good things of this life, Luk. 16. 25. Angels also must necessarily re∣member, because all things are not present to them, therefore past things they cannot know, but by way of memory: God is said in the Scripture often to re∣member, but that cannot be properly, because to him all things past and future are as present, so that he cannot be said to remember properly, no more then to fore-know onely such expressions are used by condescension to our capacity. A∣ristotle distinguisheth between Memory and Remembrance,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and this (he saith, as farre as is yet observed) no creature can do but man. When therefore I shall speak of the Memory, I shall understand it as it is Remembrance, and as it is Intellectual; for in man we may say his memory is in a great part the understanding, knowing things as they are past. Therefore Austin, and the Master of Sentences following him (though this be disclaimed by many that came after) make three powers or faculties in the rational part of a man, his Vnder∣standing, his will and Memory, which they call the created Trinity, and by it, (they say) is resembled the blessed and increated Trinity; But I shall not dispute this, for I shall speak of Memory as the same with the understanding onely in this particular, as it is carried out to things that are past, for that is the ne∣cessary object of Memory, that it must be past, we do not remember a thing pre∣sent, or a thing future.
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.
OUr work is to discover the sad and universal pollution of the Memory. And by the Memory we mean only the mind, as it extends its actions to things that are past; And thus the Scripture speaketh, 2 Pet. 3. 1. To stirre up your pure minds by remembrance. Tit. 3. 1. Put them in mind to be subject, &c. Mind is there for memory: Thus Austin also maketh memory in a man, to be either the soul, or the power and faculty of the soul: Thus the Latine Etymologers make Memini reminiscere, to come of Mens, yea Minerva made the goddesse of learning, is, Quasi Mineriva, à memini. And common speech amongst us maketh mind and memory all one, as when we say, It was quite out of my mind. &c. So that both the Scripture and the judgement of the learned, yea and the use of the vulgar will allow us to speak of the memory, as nothing else but the mind considering of things as past.
The great Usefulnesse of the Memory.
BUt before we speak to the discovery of this Memory, it is good to take no∣tice of what use and consequence it is, that so when we shall consider the dignity and serviceablenesse of the memory, we may then bewail the sinfulnesse thereof, for when that is made sinfull, it is as if a fountain were poisoned, of which all must drink: or as the air pestilential, which all must receive in their nostrils: if the memory be corrupted then all is corrupted; Hence (as you heard) all wic∣ked men are said to forget God. Memory is of so great use, as the Heathens made Page 252 a goddesse of it, yea they make it to be the mother of the Muses of all Arts, of all Wisdome and Prudence; No tongue can either expresse the serviceable∣nesse of it, or the nature of it, not the serviceablenesse of it; For if there were no memory, there could be no discourse, no civil society; if there were no memory, a man could not take heed of any danger, or prevent any mischief; hence they attribute it to the forgetfulnesse and stupidity of the Flie, that when it is flapt off from the meat, and was in danger of death, yet it will immediately flie to it again: Thus would man without memory plunge him∣self into all misery; If there were no memory, there could be no learning, no humane sciences, for memory is made the mother of them; Yea, if there were no memory, there would be no Religion, no Worship of God, or service of him: Thus both the natural, civil and religious life of a man would be destroyed were there not a memory; So that we are infinitely bound to praise God for this power left in us, and as deeply to humble our selves, that it is so corrupted, that it cannot do its proper acts in a spiritual way at last, thereby to promote our happinesse, our memory helpeth to damn us, not to save us.
Of the Nature of it.
ANd as for the Nature of memory, though Aristotle and others after him, have undertaken to say much about it, yet Austin doth much bewail the ignorance and weaknesse of a man in this thing, (l. 10. conf.) calling it, the unsearch∣able recesses and vast concavities of the memory, saying,
Demonstrations of the Pollution of the Memory.
THat the memory is thus polluted will appear,
1. By several discoveries thereof. And
2. By the particulars wherein.
In the former way, herein we have a full demonstration of the depraved nature [ I] of our memory, In that we need the Spirit of God to sanctifie and help it; So that one work or office of the Spirit of God is to be a remembrancer unto us about holy things; It's the gift of Gods Spirit to give thee a good memory, to make thee able to remember holy things: This is clearly and unquestionably af∣firmed, John 14. 26. The comforter which is the holy Ghost, I will send in my name, and he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Here we see the Spirit of God hath a twofold office or work to do:
1. To teach us holy things: We are blind and unbelieving, not knowing spi∣ritual objects, till Gods Spirit doth teach us; But this is not all, suppose we be taught and instructed, is all done then? Do we need the Spirit of God no more? Yea. Therefore
2. The Spirit of God putteth it self forth in a further work, which is to bring the things thus taught to our remembrance. As then the mind in respect of understanding and knowing cannot do any thing about what is spiritual without the Spirit of God, so neither can the mind about remembring: Certainly if the memory of it self could do these things, the Spirit of God would be in vain: If the Moon and Starres could give so much light as to make a day, the Sun would be in vain: Hence the children of God do evidently find and feel the work of Gods Spirit upon their memories, as well as their understandings, for in their temptations, how ready to be overwhelmed? how ready to be swallowed up with such thoughts? and then the Spirit of God doth seasonably re-mind the soul of such Promises, of such comfortable Arguments; So also upon the temptation to any sinne, the Spirit of God doth interpose and prevent it by making them to remember such a threatning, such a place of Scripture, and this stoppeth them from the evil they were ready to do, for they are the Disciples themselves, though sanctified and made so eminent to whom this Spirit of remembrancing is promi∣sed as usefull and necessary; If then the Spirits presence and assistance be thus ne∣cessary even to a regenerate mans memory, this argueth the natural defilement and impotency of it to any good thing, for where nature is able, there the Spirit of God is not necessarily required.
A second Discovery of the pollution of the memory may be from the end [ II] of the Scripture, why God would have it written, so as to be a perpetual mo∣nument to his Church. Among other ends this is one, to be a memorial to us, to put us in continual mind of the duties required of us: Thus the Apostle Peter indeavoureth to make believers alwaies remembring of the Gospel by those Epi∣stles he did write to them. It is true, the Orthodox do justly refuse that of Bel∣larmine, who will make the Scripture to be onely utile communitorium, as if that were the chief end, why the Scriptures were written, viz. to serve for our me∣mory only, and not to be a rule of our faith, for he himself doth acknowledge it to be a partial rule: But the principal and chief end, why the Scriptures are delivered to the Church is to be a Canon and Rule to it, so that the Church must not believe, worship or live, otherwise then the Scripture commands: This is not a partial but a total Rule, neither may any thing be added to it, or detracted Page 254 from it. But yet we grant also, That the Scripture may have other secondary and subservient ends, whereof this is not the meanest, to be usefull to our memory; And certainly, one great cause of so much evil committed by thee, is forgetful∣nesse of the Scripture; The Apostle James, Chap. 1. 25. doth notably instance to this purpose, for he compareth a forgetfull hearer of the Word, to one that looketh in the glasse, and going away straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was; If therefore we did abide and continue looking in this glasse, take notice what we are by the direction of the Word, how quickly would we reform? He that doth make a practical use of remembring the Scripture, so as to regulate and order his life accordingly can never miscarry. To have the word of God in thy memory against such and such a temptation, would prevent all the evil thou fallest into, John 15. 20. when our Saviour would encourage his Disciples against the hatred of the world, he saith, Remember the Word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater then his master; Remember this truth, and that will make thee suffer more willingly: So John 16 4. These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them; To re∣member Scripture in the season, to have the Word of God in thy mind, when a temptation like Joseph's Mistress is soliciting of thee, this will cause, that no deadly thing shall hurt thee; for the word of God is a two edged sword. it's an hammer, it's fire, it's the sword of the Spirit, by it both the Devil, and all tem∣ptations are subdued, Christ overcame the Devil by Scripture. Now if that be not in thy memory, then it cannot be any waies serviceable to thee in the time of need. Exercise your memories therefore in the Scripture, and that not for me∣mories sake, much lesse for ostentation, to shew what a good memory you have above others, but for a practical and holy use; Treasure up such a place against thy drunkennesse, thy whoredoms; Treasure up such a place against pride, earthlinesse and covetous desires; What a precious and excellent memory is that which is like a mine of gold, or an Apothecaries shop, that can from the Scri∣pture presently fetch what Antidotes against sinne, or cordials to revive that he pleaseth? And truly our memory should be filled up only with Scripture conside∣rations. This is the cabinet and choice closet of thy soul; If a man should take his cabinet that was for jewels and precious stones, and fill it only with mud and dirt, would it not be exceeding great folly? No lesse is it, when thy memory is full of stories and merry tales, and in the mean while rememberest not what God saith in his Word, which would be so usefull to thee for thy souls good, acknow∣ledge then the goodnesse of God to thee in providing the Scriptures as an help to thy memory, and withall know that seeing the Spirit thought it necessa∣ry to commit them to writing, hereby is fully declared the pollution and sinfulnesse of thy memory; For in Heaven, when the memory will be fully sanctified and perfected, then there will be no more use of the Bible, we shall not then need to read the Scriptures to quicken up our minds, for all imperfection will then be done away.
[ III] Thirdly, The sinfulnesse and weaknesse of the memory is manifested not only by the end of the Scriptures in general, but also several parts of the word of God are peculiarly so ordered, that they might be the more easily conserved in our memory. Thus when any great deliverances were vouchsafed to the Church, those mercies were made into Psalms and Songs, that for the meters sake, and the pleasantness of the matter, all might have them in remembrance: This method did signifie how dull and stupid our memories are, and how apt to forget the benefits and mercies of God, and therefore our memories are to be helped therein: Thus the 119th Psalm, is put into an alphabetical order, thereby to further our memory about it, yea there are two Psalms, Psal. 8. 1. and Psal. 70. 1. which have this Title, To bring to remembrance; And the matter of those two Psalms con∣taineth a complaint under afflictions and earnest importunity with God for deli∣verance. Page 255 The Spirit of God by instruments made them to be composed for this end, that afflicted and troubled soules should have them in remembrance; and indeed we may say of every Chapter, as well as of those Psalmes, A Chapter to bring to remembrance; yea, of many Verses, A Verse to bring to remembrance; And because the memory is so slow and dull about holy things, you may read of a peculiar command to the Jews in this case; and although the same obligation doth not belong to us, yet it teacheth us all, what for∣getfullness and oblivion is ready to seize upon us about holy things, Numb. 15. 39, 40. God doth there command Moses, to speak to the children of Israel, that they make fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations. It was a perpetual Ordinance; And why must this be done, To remember all the Commandments of God: This was Gods special command? The Church under the Gospel may not in imitation hereof prescribe Ce∣remonies, or appoint Images to stirre up the dull memory of man. The Popish-Church commendeth their Crucifixes and their Images upon this account, because so helpfull to the memory, being the Lay-mens Books; But (though the memory be greatly polluted, yet) it belongs not to man, but to God as part of his regality, to appoint what he pleaseth, to stirre up and excite the memory in holy things; God hath appointed other things, the Word, and Ministery, and Sacraments for our memory (as is to be shewed,) and therefore this is a devotion which God will reject, because not having his super∣scription upon it.
Fourthly, That the memory of man is naturally polluted is plain, By the [ IV] Ministry appointed in the Church of God by Christ himself, for one end of that is, to bring us to remembrance. Thus you heard the Apostle Peter speaking, he thought it meet 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, just and righteous while he was in the flesh, to put them alwayes in remembrance of these things: so Jude also: Thus Paul injoyneth Timothy, 2 Tim. 2. 14. Of these things put them in remembrance: so 1 Tim. 4. 6. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good Mi∣nister of Jesus Christ. He is not a good or faithfull Minister of Christ, tha is not diligent to put you in mind of Scripture-things: The Ministery is not only to instruct the ignorant, to convert the prophane, but also to put int mind those that do know, and are converted. They are like Peter's Cock, upon his crowing, Peter was brought to remembrance, and he went out, and wept bitterly. Every Sermon we preach should bring thy sinnes and thy duties to remembrance. The Spirit of God (you heard) had this office to bring things to your remembrance, and the Ministery is the instrument by which he doth it. Alexander would have a monitor to be alwayes prompting this memento∣te esse hominem; And the Romans, when riding in glorious triumph, would have some to remember them of their mortality. But Christ hath provided a more constant help for thee, to have spiritual watchmen and remembrancers, who are never to cease minding of thee; Say not then, what should I go to hear a Sermon for, I know already as much as can be said? For though that be false, yet if it were granted, you must know, the Ministery is for your memory as well as judgement, and who needeth not to have that often quick∣ned to its duty?
Fifthly, In that Christ hath appointed Sacraments in the Church, which [ V] among other ends are to quicken up and excite our memory; it is plain, that they are polluted, that we are prone to forget all the benefits of God, though never so precious; Sacraments have for their generical nature a sign; They are signs, and that not only obsignatives and in some sense exhibitive, but also commemo∣rative; hence in the very Institution of the Lords-Supper, we have this injun∣ction, Do this in remembrance of me, 1 Cor. 11. 24. Not that the commemo∣ration of Christs death with thankfullness and joy, is the total and adequate Page 256 end of the Lords-Supper, as the Socinians affirme, making us to receive no new special influences of Gods grace thereby upon our soules, or any renewed exhibitive Communion of Christ with his benefits to us, but meerly a comme∣moration, of what benefit is past: As (say they) the Israelites, when they ce∣lebrated that publick mercy of deliverance out of Egypt, had not thereby a new deliverance, but only there was a celebration of the old: Thus they would have it in the Sacrament of the Lords-Supper. But the principall and chief end of the Lords-Supper, is to conveigh further degrees of grace and comfort to the true receivers, yet we acknowledge it also a speciall and great end in the Sacrament to be commemorative, and that Christ hereby would have our memories quickned about that infinite love shewed to us in dying for us, Now what can be more demonstrating the naughtiness and sinfullness of the memory then this very thing? For, who would not think that Christs volun∣tary giving up of himself to such an accursed and ignominious death for us, would alwayes be in our minds? Such signal and transcendent expressions of love would be with us rising, and waking, and going to bed, That though the Devil and the world did never so importunately crowd in with their sug∣gestions, yet this should alwayes be uppermost in our hearts and affections; but Christ by this very institution, doth hereby manifest, what dull and stupid memories we have, and that about the greatest mercies that we are capable of: Would it not be strange if a malefactor should forget his pardon, or Ra∣hab forget the scarlet threed in the window, that was to be the preservative of her life? yet our forgetfullness is greater, when we do not remember our Saviour, and his sufferings for us. And for the other Sacrament of Baptism; how greatly is our obligation by it forgotten? how grosly we do forget that covenant with God, and the dedication of us unto God, renouncing the Devil and his lusts? That was appointed to be a commemorative sign; But how sinfull is our memory? for we do (as it were) need another sign to put us in mind of that, and so in infinitum, what little power hath the memory of these Sacraments upon us? Yea, how little do they come in our mind, thereby to improve our duties and consolations?
[ V] Lastly, That our memories are naturally sinfull will appear, If we con∣sider, how it was with Adam in the state of integrity, he was made right, Eccl. 7. which doth extend to the spiritual perfection of all the parts of his soul; As his mind was indowed with all necessary light and knowledge, so his memory also with all strength and vigor; so that forgetfullness of any thing that was his duty, was no more incident unto him, then any other sinne; It was not, because naturally he had a bad or a forgetfull memory, that made him break the Law of God; for if God had created him found and perfect, in all other parts of his soul, only left him to a weak and frail memory, he could not have been happy, either in temporal or spiritual considerations: As his soul was thus perfected, so his body was in a found and well tempered constitution, having no redundancy of humors thereby to hinder the operations of the soul by memory, he was not subject to diseases or old age, or any thing else, that doth empair the memory of man, but now our sun is become a dung∣hill, and our gold dross: As original sinne hath pestilentially insected all parts of the soul, so the memory hath not escaped this pollution; for where it is naturally able, there it is spiritually impotent; when it might remember, if improved and put upon, there is it negligent, and careless: how many say, They cannot remember any good thing delivered to them? press them about the Scripture, and the good truths of God preached to them, and they will justify themselves by pleading the badness of their memory, whereas it is for want of a good heart, and a good will; if thy affections were ardent and burning about these things, thy memory would be more retentive of good Page 257 things then they are. Besides, little do you know, what your memory would do, if you did put it upon frequent exercise, few know what their memories could do, if exercised about holy things, because few are industrious and active to put it on work. Austin (lib. 4to de origine animae.) relateth of his friend Simplicius, how he was desired to repeat verses out of Virgil backwards and forwards, and also the Prose of Tully, with an inversed order, and this he did to their great admiration, yet Austin saith, That Simplicius did solemnly pro∣test, that he never did so before, neither had he ever tried, whether his memory were able for such an exercise or no. By this example. we see, that none know what their memories would do, if they did more carefully and diligently put them upon it. But grant that the memory be naturally impotent, though this you heard be not formally a sinne, yet it is the fruit of it, and so matter of humilia∣tion. Learned men say, That what fit constitution and temperature is required in the brain for a sound and solid judgement, the contrary is for a good and strong memory, and therefore (they say) it is, that a strong judgement, and a strong memory, seldom go together; As (saith Erasmus) the beast Lynx hath a most acute sight, but is a most stupid and forgetfull creature: Now if this be so, then this ariseth from Adam's fall, for no doubt Adam had both a perfect judgement, and a perfect memory, and it cometh through original sinne, that the body is so distempered, that what helpeth for one faculty of the soul, impe∣deth and hindreth the other. The Summe of this particular is, That wherein our memories do now come short of that, which Adam's memory while perfect was able to do, that is either expresly and formally a sinne, or the immediate issue and punishment of sinne.
Wherein the memory of man is polluted.
THis sure foundation then being said, Let us proceed to shew, Wherein the memory of man is so greatly polluted; And that will appear,
First, Very remarkably, If you consider all the several objects which by the Scripture we are daily to have in our memory, and we are naturally in a constant and daily forgetfulnesse of them. Onely it is good to take notice of a distinction which Vossius (De Origine Idolat. lib. 1. cap. 11.) observeth out of Bona∣venture,
The first and most signal object of our memory, which the Scripture speaketh of,* is God himself; God is not only the object of our faith, and of our love, of our minds and wils, but also of our memory; We should alwaies keep up the remembrance of God in our thoughts,* and this would be a most potent Anti∣dote against all kind of sinne; Therefore is all evil committed, because we do not Page 258 remember God at that time, Deut. 8. 18. Moses doth there command the peo∣ple of Israel to take heed of trusting in their own righteousnesse and goodnesse, or of attributing their wealth and riches to their own power. But (saith he) thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, implying, That the Sunne and the night can no more stand together, then the remembring of God, and carnal con∣fidence can; the ambitious man, the voluptuous man, remembring God, would find it to be like thunder and lightning upon the soul; This would immediately stop him in his waies of iniquities: Thus 2 Sam. 14 11. that suborned woman of Tekoah in her disguised Parable to David, complaining of some that would rise up against her, to destroy her sonne, she desireth the King to stop the re∣vengers wrath by this Argument, Let the King remember the Lord thy God: Thus when thou art sollicited, inticed to any evil, way, Remember thou God, the infinite God, the just God, the omniscient God, the dreadfull and terrible God in all his wayes of anger. Nehemiah also maketh use of this Argument to quick∣en up the Jews against sinfull fear and cowardise in Gods work, Nehem. 4. 14. 1 said to the Nobles and Rulers of the people, be ye not afraid of them, but re∣member the Lord which is great and terrible. This God complaineth of, Isa. 57. 11. Thou hast not remembred me, nor laid it to thy heart, and therefore were they so propense to all their abominations. These Texts may suffice to in∣form, that our memories ought constantly to be fixed upon God, and no sooner do we let him out of our mind, but immediately some sinne or other is commit∣ted. But how unspeakably is the memory of every man naturally polluted herein? When is God in their thoughts? Amongst those millions and millions of objects which thou dost remember, when is the great God, the just God, the holy God thought on? May you not see it by the bold impiety and undaunted wickednesse of all unregenerate men, that they remember not God? Yea the god∣ly themselves finde in part this pollution upon their memory. Whence arise those carnal feares, those dejected thoughts, Is it not because you forget the greatnesse and goodnesse of God? Bewail thy memory-sinfulnesse, as well as other sins.
2. As the Scripture prescribes the object of our memory (viz) God himself, so it doth instance in one time more then at another; Though at all times God is to be remembred, yet in one time of our age, though there be greatest cause, yet our lusts and desire after other things do greatly hebetate our memory; We have the injunction from Solomon himself, Eccl 12. 1. Remember now thy Creator in the dayes of thy youth; Here you see who is to be remembred, & when he is to be remembred, God is to be remembred, and that in the time of our youth, But do not the strong effects of original sin heightned also by actual sins discover herein most palpable impiety in young persons, they remember their lusts, their pleasures in the dayes of their youth, and God is never in all their thoughts: Oh where may we find a young Timothy, that was acquainted with the Scripturee from his infancy! Where an Obadiah, That feared God from the youth? Do not most young persons live so negligently about holy things, as if they were allowed to be dissolute, as if the things of Heaven and eternity did not belong to them, as if Solomon had said the contrary, Do not remember God in the dayes of thy youth, be not so strict and precise, but follow thy pastimes and pleasures? Thus the very memory of God and holy things is a burden to young persons; They think Solimon spake farre better, Chap. 11. 9. when he saith, Rejoyce, O young man in thy youth, let thy heart cheer thee, and walk in the wayes of thy heart, remove sorrow and evil away; They like this well; This is good, but there is a sting in that which followeth, Know thou that for all these things God will bring thee to judgement; This will quickly damp all thy youthfull jollities. Let then young persons especially bewail the sinfulnesse and forgetfulnesse of their memory here∣in; This is the best and most flourishing time for your memory, now it is put up∣on Page 259 to learn either Mechanical Trades, or the Liberal Arts, your memories are most drawn out in inferiour things, but take the advantage to imploy it more about holy things; You hear old persons complain, they have lost their memory, they grow forgetfull, therefore fix your memories upon good things while you may.
3. The Scripture commends the Word of God likewise as the object of our memory.*Timothy had learnt the Scripture from his Infancy: The word of God was for this end (amongst others, as you heard) committed to writing, that so we might the more readily have it in our memories, Mal. 4. 4. the Prophet commands them to remember the Law of Moses with the statutes and judgments, yea they were to have such a ready and familiar knowledge of the Word of God, that when they were rising or walking, they were to be speaking of them, Deut. 6. 7, 8, 9. we may there see what care is taken that the Law of God should be alwayes in their mind; but do we not evidently behold the cursed and wretched pollution of mans memory in this particular; Why is it that little children will remember any Songs sooner then the principles of Religion? Why is it that many persons who are not able to remember any thing of the Scripture, or the Ser∣mons they have heard, yet can remember Ballads and Songs, they can remem∣ber their youthfull pranks, and talk of them with delight, but they cannot give any account of the good truths that in their younger years were preached to them? When do ye hear such say, Such a Sermon wounded me at heart, it stic∣keth still upon me, I shall never forget it? Now is not the sinfulnesse of the me∣mory greatly to be bewailed in this particular? If it were holy and sanctified it would take more delight and joy to remember Scripture-truths then any thing else, whereas now thy memory is like a sieve that lets the corn and weighty grain fall through, but the light refuse stuff that it retaineth: Thus what is solid and would do thy soul good, that quickly passeth away: Oh that we could not fay, our Sermons passe away as a tale that is told, for those you do remember, and you will carry a long while in your mind, empty, frothy things those abide long with you! Would you not judge it madnesse in the Husbandman, if he should pluck up and hinder the growth of his corn, and let cockle and tare, with other weeds flourish? Thus thou dost about thy memory, throw away the flours and keep the weeds, whereas thy memory should be like the holiest of holies, nothing but what is select and sanctified should enter therein.
4. That I may not be too long in these instances, The works of God, whether in his mercy,*or in his wrath, they are to be the object of our memory. Thus the Scripture speaketh often of remembring his marvellous works. Matth. 16. 19. Christ reproveth his Disciples, because they did not remember the miracle of the loaves; All the great mercies to his Church, all the severe judgements of God upon those that hate him, should be kept in constant remembrance from genera∣tion to generation: But who seeth not the sinfulnesse of our memory in this par∣ticular? What liar remembreth Ananias and Saphira's judgement? What un∣clean person Zimri and Cosbi? What drunkard Belshazzar's hand-writing on the wall?
Inferiour Objects of Memory.
WE are discovering the particulars, Wherein the memory of man is so great∣ly polluted; we have instanced in the Object of it, which is God, and the things immediately relating to God; These things we constantly forget, though God gave us a memory chiefly for these things. In the next place, there are Ob∣jects in the inferiour region (as it were) which the Scripture commendeth to our memory, and about that also we shall finde our minds never exercised there∣in. That I may not be infinite, I shall select some few of those Inferiour Ob∣jects. And
First,*It is a duty often urged in Scripture, To exercise cur memory about our sins past, to bring them to mind, and accordingly to humble our selves and repent. But is not every mans memory naturally polluted herein? How many sinnes are there committed many years ago? How many youth sinnes which thou never hast a bitter remembrance of? It is not wormwood and gall to thee to think of thy former vanities: Thus the memory well exercised is the introduction to re∣pentance. A man can never repent that doth not first remember; Can he hum∣ble himself for that which he hath forgotten? Ezek. 16. 61, 63 God there makes a gracious Covenant and promise of pardon and forgivenesse to the Israe∣lites; and then he sheweth, that this fire of his love shall melt and thaw their hearts, though like iron, they shall be ashamed and confounded, but how is all this done? by remembring. Then thou shalt remember thy waies, and be a∣shamed, so that it is impossible to set upon the work of repentance and conversi∣on to God, unlesse first thy memory be excited up, unlesse thou look upon thy former life, and remember this have I done, and thus I have lived, such sinnes and follies come into my mind, yea in true repentance thy sinnes will alwayes be in thy memory, when eating, or drinking, or walking, thou wilt be thinking, Oh the wretch that I have been! Oh the beast and fool that I was in such and such impieties! Thus Joh and David remembred the sinnes of their youth, Psa. 51. 3. David acknowledging that murder and adultery which he had committed a year before, yet he saith, My sinne is ever before me. Thus you see in repent∣ance, the memory is wonderfully quickned, bringeth those sinnes to mind that have been committed many years ago, and therefore you have the expression, 1 King. 8. 47. of a people repenting, If they shall bring back to their heart, so it is in the original, we render it, If they shall bethink themselves; By this we see, that in true conversion there is a bringing back again of our sinnes to our hearts, that whereas we had forgot this and that sinne which might be charged upon us; Now we begin to arraign our selves, and bring in a severe indictment against our own souls, for such and such transgressions: Oh then, mourn bitter∣ly for thy evil and wicked memory herein! How many sinnes, how many iniqui∣ties even like the sand on the sea-shore might come into thy mind and amaze thee, giving thee no rest, till thou hadst obtained the pardon of them? But thou art so farre from this, that rather thou strivest and labourest to put them out of thy memory; If thy sinnes come to thy mind, presently thou divertest thy thoughts, turnest thy memory to other things; and thus as the noise of the Cart-wheel, because nearer to us, maketh us not bear the noise of thunder at that time, so other things more delightsome and pleasing, being next in our memory, we wholly forget what might turn to our salvation: Hence it is that natural men love no good conference, no reproof, no powerfull preaching that may bring their sinnes to remembrance, but say as the woman to Elisha, 1 King. 17. 18. What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Art thou come unto me to call my Page 261 sinne to remembrance? So that herein our desperate pollution is seen, that we bring not our sinnes to our remembrance, yea we voluntarily forget them, use all the means we can, that we may never have them in our minds.
Secondly,*The bad or good examples of others we should remember, and ac∣cordingly imitate or avoid them: All the examples of wicked and godly men, should be so many Monuments, so many Memorials to us: The Inscription upon Senacherib his Tomb was, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Whosoever looks on me, let him be godly, by remembring the wrath of God upon me for my evil wayes. Our Saviour (Luke 17. 32.) commands us to Remember Lot's wife; In her we have such an instance of Gods wrath, that it ought never to be forgotten, and there∣fore, saith Austin, turned into a pillar of falt, that she might season us; God had delivered her out of Sodom from the fire and brimstone ready to have consu∣med her, and withall he chargeth her not to look back, but she either out of cu∣riosity, or out of a worldly affection and desire to her goods that were left be∣hind looketh back, upon which God doth immediately punish her in this wonder∣full and unheard manner; Now our Saviour applieth this to every one who ta∣keth upon him the profession of Christ, leaveth off his former conversation, but afterwards returneth to it again: And is not this the condition of too many, that do not onely with Lot's wife look back to Sodome, but even go back into Sodome again? How terrible will the later end of such be? Remember this dreadfull in∣stance, you who for a while give over your prophanenesse and impiety, but af∣terwards fall to it again, such are not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven: Thus also we should take notice of all the good examples we meet with in the holy Scripture, what good men there were, how they lived, and how God blessed them; Our memories should be a good treasury, whereby we should be abundantly furnish∣ed to do the good and avoid the evil, Lege Historiam ne fias Historia, but ra∣ther remember Histories and examples, lest God make thee an example: Thus Heb. 13. 7. they are commanded to remember such who had been guides to them, and to follow their faith, considering the end of their conversation; How holy, blessed and comfortable it was, the godly Ministers and holy Pastors God hath given to his Church, you should diligently remember, taking notice how God was with them in their Doctrine, in their lives, in their deaths; This would much prevent that Apostasle of many into errors, and following after heretical per∣sons; Do but remember how wonderfully God was in the spirits and lives of many holy Pastors in the Church, who did bear witness against such errors, as many now are led aside with: Who would not desire to live the lives, and die the deaths of such holy gracious men?
Thirdly, Another object of our memory commended in Scripture is, The former works of Gods Spirit which happily have been upon us,*but we have decayed and revolted. This were alone necessary for many a man, and especially in these times; Remember what love thou didst once bear to the Ordinances; Remem∣ber what delight and sweetness thou didst once find in them, but now thou hast cast them off Thus the Apostle remindeth the Galatians, Gal. 4. 15. Where is the blessedness you once spake of? Once they did so rejoyce in Paul's Ministry, ac∣counted it a blessing of an eminent nature, but now began to slight it. There are also many who have formerly been zealous and active for good things, they manifested their good desires about the things of God to all the world, but now they are become like so many clods of earth, they have forsaken the better part, which with Mary once they did chuse, and are either turned dissolute or earthly, crawling upon the ground like so many worms: Thus these flourishing trees are quite withered, having neither fruit or leaves: Thus the Church of Ephesus, guilty of partial Apostasie, Revel. 2. 5. is injoyned To remember from whence she is fallen; and this counsel is to be given to many persons, Remember it was Page 262 otherwise with thee once; Remember it was not so with thee, as it is now; The time hath been thy heart hath been much affected with the word of God preach∣ed; The time hath been thou hadst family-duties, and daredst not to neglect the family-worship of God; But now, What is become of all this Religion, You that began in the Spirit, do you not end in the flesh? Especially your memo∣ries are often to be stirred up and quickned, who have been under many fears and dangers, who have been at the point of death: Oh what thoughts, what reso∣lutions have you made against sinne! What bitter thoughts and apprehensions had you about your former evil wayes? But (alas) how quickly are all those agonies of soul forgotten? In this your memories are very much polluted, that all your vows, all your promises to God, all your fears and terrors are forgotten: Thou that art now imbracing of thy lusts, entertaining thy Dalilah's again, Oh remember what thou didst think of these things, when thou didst look upon thy self as a dying man! Oh remember what woes and wounds were upon conscience! What confident expressions, if ever God did recover thee a∣gain, if ever thou wert delivered again, all the world should see thy repent∣ance and Reformation? These things thou shouldest remember, and shame thy selfe, yea be confounded and never able to open thy mouth to excuse thy self.
Fourthly,* The Scripture doth propound to our memory, as a special object, never to slip out of it, The consideration of our later end, the day of death, the day of Judgement, these things are to be constantly in our memory. The neglect of this is made by the Prophet Jeremiah a bitter instance in his Lamentations concerning the people of Israel, Lam. 1. 9. She remembred not her later end, therefore she came down wonderfully; Here the forgetting of her later end is made the cause of all those strange and wonderfull judgements which come upon them: Thus Isa. 47. 7. Babylon is there arraigned for her pride and arrogancy, And she did not lay the judgements of God to heart, neither did she remember the later end of it; And how pathetically is Gods desire expressed, Deut.32. 29. Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their later end; Here you see the summe of all godliness is expressed, in considering our later end: No wonder then if men who forget their death, and the day of Judgement be violently carried on to all excess of riot; For what should stop or stay them in their paths? Whereas didst thou remember, (as Solomon adviseth his young man) That for all this thou must die, thou must be brought to judgement; This would bind him (as it were) hand and foot; Quicken then up thy memo∣ry, whatsoever thou forgettest, do not forget that thou art a mortal dying man, that the day of judgement is coming upon thee, which thou canst not avoid; The memory of this would make thee flie from every enticing sinne, as Joseph did from his mistress.
Lastly,* The Scripture requireth, That we should remember the desolation and troubles that are upon others, especially the Church of God. So that although it be never so well with us, though God give us our hearts desire, yet the re∣membrance of the afflictions and straits of others should make us mourn and pray for them: Thus Col. 4. 18. Paul calleth upon them to remember his bonds: So Heb. 13. 3. Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them: What an hard and great duty is this, yet if thou art not a dead member in the body; if spiritual life be in thee, thou wilt remember the sad condition, the afflicted estate of many of Gods children, when thou enjoyest all thy soul longeth for. It was thus with good Nehemiah, he was in the Princes Palaces, he wanted nothing for his own advantage, yet he mourned and was sad from day to day, because he remem∣bred how it was with Jerusalem: See how impossible a thing almost David: ma∣keth it to forget Jerusalem, Psal. 137. 5. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning; If I remember thee not, let my tongue cleave to the Page 263 rooff of my mouth; If I preferre not Jerusalem above my chief joy; here is a gracious worthy spirit; see what David resolveth shall be in his memory more then the chiefest good in this world; he will forget his own friends, his own joyes, yea his own self, sooner then the Churches good: now may not even a godly man bewail his forgetfullness herein? Thou mindest thy own estate, thy own family, seekest thy own self, but how little is thy memory about the affaires of the Church? Thou dost not remember how many afflicted Joseph's, how many impoverished, Lazar's there may be in the Church of God? how many exiles and banished persons; how many desirous to take up the crums that fall from thy table; Did we remember the afflictions and straights of others, it would put us more upon prayer for them, and it would also make us walk more thankfully and humbly for our mercies then we do? And thus you see, though the memory be a vast treasure, though it hath infinite recesses and capacious receptacles, yet the Scripture hath prescribed matter enough to fill every corner (as it were) and if the memory were thus frighted, if it were such a good store-house, how happy would it be? whereas naturally it's like a cage of unclean birds, and a den of thieves. I proceed therefore to shew (as it was to Ezekiel about the Jewes) still more abomination in this memory of ours.
The Memory is polluted in respect of its inward vitiosity adhering to it.
SEcondly, As the memory is thus defiled about its proper objects, so there is [ II] much inward vitiosity adhering to it; And this we may take notice of, as a main one, The dullness, sluggishness, and stupidity of it, especially as to hea∣venly things: who can give any other reason, why good things, holy things, should not be remembered as well as evil and sinfull things, but only the native pollution of the memory? And from hence it is, that there is such a lethargy (as it were) upon the memory; for if Peter, 2 Pet 3. 1, writing to those who were sanctified, and that had pure minds, yet he thought it meet to stirre them up, a metaphor (as you heard) from men asleep, who need to be awakened; how much more doth the memory of a natural man need stirring and exciting? There is then a wonderfull stupidity and sleepiness (as it were) upon the me∣mory, it is even rusty (as it were) and unfit for any use; men do not exer∣cise and put their memories upon practice, little do they know what they could remember, if they did mind it, and exercise themselves to remember what is good; Thou complainest of a bad memory, of a slippery memory, No, it is thy laziness, it's thy bad heart, it's thy want of diligence; Thy memory would be as good, and as active for holy things, as it is for earthly things, if you did put it in practice more, but the memory being naturally dull and stupid, thou lettest it alone, thou never improvest it, never awakenest it, and so through thy forgetfullness thou comest eternally to perish; This lethargy upon thy memory, though a sad disease, yet might be cured, if thou wert real and industrious about it, much praying, and much practising of it in holy things, would make it as expedite, and as ready about good things, as ever it was in any evil things.
In the third place, The memory is naturally unsanctified in this particular, [ III] that wherein it can or doth remember,*there it produceth not suteable operations, nor doth it obtain its end. The end of remembring what is good, is to love it,Page 264 to practise it, and to imitate it; The end of remembring evil, is to loath it bitterly, to repent of it, and to fly from it: Now herein our memory is grosly polluted, that it never obtaineth this blessed and holy end, whereas if our me∣mories were never so admirable, as that of Symonides, or Appelonius Thyaneus, when he was about an hundred yeares old, yet if our memory be not effectual, and operative, to make us more holy and heavenly, this is a sinfull and defiled me∣mory: And for this reason it is, that wicked men are said to forget God, because though they do remember him, yet they do not performe those duties, to which their memory should be subservient. For as the end of knowledge, is action, so the end of memory also is to be doing; and as it is said, If ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them; so when ye remember these things, it's a blessed thing to put them in practise. But how often do we see by expe∣rience, that where the memory is naturally very good, there morally it is very bad and sinfull? Do you not meet with many that can remember the Scripture, remember Sermons, yet never remember the practice of them? whereas God hath given us memory, for the same end he hath given us a knowledge, which is to direct and help us in our operations. That as in beasts, they have a sensitive memory in them to preserve their natural being, The Oxe remembreth his Masters crib; the bird remembreth her seasons, and all this for natural preservation; The Bee remembereth the place of her hive; The Ant her nest, (though some Philosophers, because of the great siceity of the constitution of those creatures, attribute it to a natural instinct, rather then memory:) so this should be much more true in men, therefore doth God bestow on us an intellectual memory, that thereby he might spiritually pre∣serve himself, making use of that which is advantagious to his soul, and avoid∣ing all that which is destructive. As then we are not to know only that we may know, or to know thereby, making ostentation that others may take notice of it; so neither are we to remember, that we may remember only, or to brag of our memory, that others may wonder to see what a strong and retentive memory we have, but that thereby we may be more promoted, and advanced in heavenly things: Let all such tremble under this consideration, who have very quick and sure memories about the Scripture and the Sermons they hear, yet are very ungodly in their lives, and walk in a contrary way to all that they do remember. This argueth thy memory is not a sanctified memory, that it carrieth not on the work of grace in thee; for which end only it ought to be imployed. It is observed that two sorts of men need a good memory; First, The lyar, Oportet mendacem esse memorem, now every professing Christian living wickedly, is a lyar, for with words he acknowledgeth him, butin workes he denieth him; insomuch that thou who lyest thus to God, shouldst remember thy professions and obligations, the second sort is, of greatest accomptants, such who have great summes to cast up, and to be accoun∣table for, these also had need of great memories, and such is every man: Oh the vast and numberless particulars of which he is one day to give an account to God! Oh what a proficient in holiness might thou have been, if all the good things thou remembrest were in a practical manner improved, if thou couldst give a good account to God of thy memory, for that you are to do, as well as of the improvement of other parts of the soul! As God at the day of judgement will have an account of every talent he hath given thee, of thy understanding, of thy will, how these have been employed, so likewise of thy memory; What is that good, that holiness, thy memory hath put thee upon? and this also you who are young ones and servants, living in godly Families, are diligently to attend to, for you think this is enough, if you can remember a Sermon, or Catechistical heads, so as to give an account to your Governors; if you can satisfie them, you think this is enough, but thou art greatly de∣ceived, Page 265 for therefore art thou to remember, that thou maist do accordingly, Thou art never to forget this or that truth, that so it may be ready at hand to direct thee in all thy wayes: and this is indeed a divine act of memory. There are those who teach the art of memory, and give rules to perfect a man therein, but divine and holy operation, is the end of the Christian art of our memory.
Fourthly, The pollution of our memory is seen, In that it is made subser∣vient to the corrupt frame and inclination of our hearts. We remember what our hearts are set upon, what our affections are earnest for, whereas our me∣mory should precede and go before them, for the intellective memory is the same with the mind and understanding of a man; for although to remember be not properly an act of knowledge, yet this intellective memory we make the same with the mind of a man, as it extends to things that are past. The me∣mory then is to make way for the heart and the affections, to be directive to them, whereas now for the most part it is made a slave to the corrupt heart; for if the understanding in it all's hegemonical, and primary actions hath lost its power, how much more is this true in the memory? For the most part therefore the badness of the heart makes a bad memory, and a good heart a good memory; men complain they cannot remember, when indeed they will not remember; their hearts are so possessed and inslaved to earthly things, that they remember nothing but what tendeth thereunto: This is the ground of that saying, Omnia quae curant senes meminerunt, Old men remem∣ber all things, their hearts are let upon, all things, they do earnestly regard; They can remember their bonds, the place where their money lieth, because their hearts are fixed upon these things, but no holy or good things can lodge in their memories: The rule is, Frigus est mater obiivionis, Coldness is the mother of oblivion, as is partly seen in old men; and thus it is even in old and young, their hearts are cold, earthly, lumpish, even like stones about holy things, and therefore it is no wonder if they remember them no better; so that we may generally conclude, That the cause of all they blockishness and forgetfullness about divine things, is thy sinfull and corrupt heart, if that were better thy memory would be better. We have a notable place, Jer. 2. 32. Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have for∣gotten me daies without number. Can a bride forget her attire and ornament? it is impossible, because her delight and affections are upon it, but (saith God) My people have forgotten me, daies without number. Why so? because I am not that to them, which ornaments are to a bride (saith God) if they delight in me, rejoyce in me, if they did account me their glory, then they would never forget me: By this you see, that therefore we forget God, and his wayes, because our hearts are not in love with him; Can he that is powerfully con∣quered by love of a friend forget his friend? Doth he not alwaies remember him? Is not a friend alter ego? Is not the lovers soul more where it loveth then where it animateth? Thus it would be also with us in reference unto God; therefore we have bad memories, because bad hearts: It is true, some natu∣ral causes may either deprive us wholly of, or greatly enervate the memory: Thus Messalla that famous Orator, judged to be more elaborate then Tully, two yeares before his death, forgot all things, even his own name. Hermo∣genes also that famous Rhetorician, who wrote those Rhetorical institutions which are read with admiration of all, and this he did when he was but eighteen years old, and some six yeares after grew meerly stupid, and sensless, without any evident cause of whom it was said, that he was; Inter pueros senex, & inter senes puer. Thucidides (as Vostius reporteth. (Orat. institut. lib. 6.) speaketh of such an horrible pestilence, that those who did recover of it, grew so forgetfull, that they did not know their friends, neither remembred what Page 266 kind of life or profession they once followed; So that natural causes may much weaken the memory; but if we speak in a moral sense, then nothing doth so much corrupt the memory about holy things, as a sinfull and polluted heart.
[ V] Fifthly, The pollution of the memory is seen, In that it is not now subject in the exercise of it to our will and power. We cannot remember when we would, and when it doth most concern us, whereas in the state of integrity, Adam had such an universal Dominion over all the powers of his soul, that they acted at what time, and in what measure he pleased: Thus his affections were subject to him in respect of their rise, progress and degree; and so for his memory, he had all things in his mind, as he would: Some indeed question, Whether Adam did then Intelligere per Phantasmata? But that seemeth inseparable from the nature of man, while upon the earth, and living an animal life, though without sinne. No doubt his soul being the form of the whole man, did act dependently upon the instrumentality of the body, though such was the admirable constitution of his body, that nothing could make the operations thereof irregular. Adam then had nothing which could either Physically or Morally hinder the memory, but all was under his voluntary command, whereas such an impotency is upon us, that if we would give a world, we cannot remember the things we would; Hence we are force to compel our selves, by one thing after another, to bring to our minds what is forgotten, for in remembring there is some dependance of one thing upon another; as rings, if tied together, are more easily taken hold of, then when they lie singly and loosly. And this Austin (lib. 10. confes.) ma∣keth to be the Etimology of the word Cogito, Cogito à cogo, as Agito ab ago, Factito à facio, as if to cogitate were to force and compell things into our minds. Let us then mourn and humble our selves under this great pollution of nature, that those things which are of such infinite consequence, which are as much as our salvation and eternal happiness are worth, yet we do not, we cannot re∣member.
[ VI] Hence in the sixth place, The memory being not under our command, it falleth out, that things come into our minds, When we would not have them, yea when it is a sinne to receive them. How often in holy duties, in religious performances, do we remember things, which happily we could not do, when the fit season and op∣portunity was for them? Do not many worldly businesses come into our minds, when we are in heavenly approaches to God, that as Job. 1. when the sonnes of God came and appeared before God, then Satan came also and stood with them? Thus when thou art busie to remember all those Scripture-arguments, which should humble thee in Gods presence, which should exalt and life up thy soul to God, How many heterogeneous and distracting thoughts do croud in also, so that this worldly business, and that earthly imploiment cometh into thy remem∣brance? Insomuch that the people of God, though their memories are sanctifi∣ed, and so cleansed in much measure from original filth in the dominion of it, yet do much groan under this importante and unseasonable remembring of things; for hereby our duties have not that united force and power, as they should have, neither is God so glorified in our addresses to him, as he ought to be, Psal. 86. 11. David there prayeth, That God would unite his heart to fear his Name; And the Apostle, 1 Cor. 7. doth therefore speak so warily and ten∣derly in the case of marriage, That they might serve the Lord without distraction; And no doubt dividing and diverting thoughts are as troublesome to the godly heart in holy duties, as the croaking frogs were to Pharaoh, when they came up into his chamber: Say then with indignation to all those intruding and violent thoughts, which make thee not hoc agere, instant in the duty thou art about, stand aloof off, and be gone; Bolt the door upon them, as Ammon on Thamar; What doth Saul among the Prophets? How cometh these uclean things into the holiest of holies? Let the fear of God be like the Porter or Watchman, to keep Page 267 out all things that would then come into thy memory, Liberet me Deus (said he) ab hom•pe unius tantum negotii, when thy heart minds only one thing, when it is God only thy soul is fixed upon, and thou art not diverted otherwise, such duties are effectual and prevail much. Thus you have at large heard the many waies, wherein this noble and usefull part of the soul is grosly polluted, what a Sepulchre (as it were) it is, wherein are contained nothing but loathsome and abominable things. Come we then to make some Use of it. And
Vse 1. Is the memory thus defiled about holy and divine objects? It is so for∣getfull of what is good? Then we see it is no matter of wonder, if the most peo∣ple, who sit under the continual means of grace do abide, and continue in their wicked waies, as much as if never any Prophet had been amongst them• For they go away from all Sermons, remembring no more then stones in the wall; They are the Apostles forgetfull hearers, Jam. 1. and so presently let all things slip out of their minds; Thus forgetfulness (of which you hear so much) is the mother of all that disobedience and wickedness many live in. The Apostle giveth a good exhortation, Heb 2. 1. We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things Which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip out of our mind; We must give earnest heed: All your thoughts, and care, and study should be, how to keep the good truths of God in your mind, and that alwayes, lest that every thing thou hearest should fasten upon thee, even till thou comest to the grave. The Greek word also 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is emphatical; The Margin maketh it from vessels that leak; Others from wet and bloached paper, upon which we cannot write anything. Let us then look to our memories more then we have done, pray for the sanctification of them, seeing by the evil thereof the Ministry is made ineffectual. And because the memory is thus weak, we see the necessity and usefulnesse of a two-fold custom, of writing of Sermons, and of repeating them afterwards in the Family; of writing (for whatsoever some pretend to the contrary, yet) it is a special means to make a thing be more fixed in our memory; and this was the reason why God would have the King of Israel, write the book of the Law, and that with his own hand, because hereby he would remember it more tenaciously. And as for repeating of Sermons (besides that it is part of the Sanctification of the Sabbath) it doth greatly help to make the Word ingrassed into us; So that those Families where there is no repeating of the Word preached, do plainly discover, that they regard not the retaining of it in their hearts, and so are not afraid to be found in the number of forgetfull hearers.
Vse 2. If the memory be thus defiled, then this also sheweth the necessity of parents duty, in the constant instruction and teaching of their children in the principles of Religion; children have not understanding to serve God with, and therefore their memory, which is easily quickned in them, must be the more drawn out, that so they may serve God as they are able: It's good seasoning these ves∣sels betimes with wholsome liquor.