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We are not thankful for good turns, those for the most part we forget; neither can we forget evil turns done unto us, we can remember them all our life-time. At sermons we are heavy and dull, slow of memory; but if we should be at a play, or any other sport, we can then remember all. Is not this a wonderful fault in our memories, to be so dull unto good things and so prone unto all evil ? So the children of Israel are taxed for their bad memories.
Theyt kept not the covenant of God, but refused to walk in his law. They forgat his acts, and his wonderful works that he had shewed them.” And Moses being absent but forty days with God on the mount, when he received the tables of the law, how soon did they forget the miracles that were wrought by him ? Yet their memories are weak, they fall a-calling for a golden calf: “ We know not what is become of this Moses.” And so are all our memories, frail and dull also, unless it please the Lord mightily to assist them with supernatural grace. It is a wonderful thing that the commandments, which were given from Sinai in so terrible a manner, made no deeper impression in their hearts, being given with thunder and lightning, and all the signs of horror. Yet Moses being absent for a little while, they fall grievously: but, again, more fearful was their sin; for when God's mercies, in the greatest plenty, were bestowed upon them, then were they readiest to forget them. As Moses, in his song, confesseth of them : “ Buthe that should have been upright when he waxed fat, spurned with the heel. Thou art fat, thou art gross, thou art laden with fatness, therefore he forsook God that made him, and regarded not the strong God of his salvation.” And the Lord thus complaineth of the Israelites, “ Yet* I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no God but me, for there is no Saviour besides me. I did know thee in the wilderness and in a land of drought. As in their pastures, so were they filled, they were filled, and their heart was exalted, therefore have they forgotten me.” Thus both in matters
u Deut. chap. 32. ver. 15.
i Psalm 78. ver. 10,11.
Hos. chap. 13. ver. 4, 5, 6.
ordinary and extraordinary the memory is corrupted.
So the apostles of our blessed Saviour, although they had been before fed at the multiplication of the few loaves in the wilderness, yet mistaking Christ's meaning concerning the leaven of the Pharisees, they are thus reproved of our Saviour, “Why', reason ye thus, because ye have no bread ? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your hearts yet hardened? Have ye eyes and see not ? Have ye ears and hear not ? And do ye not remember when I brake the five loaves amongst five thousand ? How many baskets full of broken meat took you up?" Here they are accused of two faults: first, of forgetfulness; secondly, of hardness of heart. You see then none are freed of this fault. What must we do then to attain a good memory ? If thou have not a good memory, labour with all thy might to have a greater portion of grace, and grace will bring it. Labour to have thy affections sanctified, and thine heart purged, and the poison of sin being removed, grace shall strengthen thy memory, so that thou shalt be able to retain good things.
First, then, if thou wouldst have a good memory, labour to get a sight of the foulness of the fault, that thou mayest be soundly grieved at thy dulness and forgetfulness, that thou mayest espy and find what heavy wrath hangeth over the heads of such sluggards.
Secondly, confess thy faults before God, and be not ashamed to let the Philistine know thy disease.
Thirdly, seek for an earnest hunger unto those things thou doest here, that thou mayest feed upon them with an earnest appetite.
Fourthly, put an high price upon the preciousness of them. Value them at an high rate, as thou doest thy jewels and best things; thou prizest them highly, having a care to lay them up safe : so do thou in hearing of the Word and other good things, strive to relish grace. Then prize the means highly, and, as it is said of the Virgin Mary?, when she had heard the choir of heavenly angels proclaim
y Mark, chap. 8. ver. 17, 18, 19.
? Luke, chap. 2. ver. 19.
ing the birth of our blessed Saviour, that she laid up all these things in her heart ; so have thou an especial care to lay up all those things in thine heart, treasure them up carefully as thou usest thy best ornaments. Again, for a further help to memory, thou must be a good text-man, and acquainted with the book of God, that there thou mayest be acquainted with the frame of the Scriptures; that thou mayest learn there a right knowledge of the nature and attributes of God, such as he hath revealed himself in Trinity of persons, and in the Incarnation of the second person; that in time of hearing thy heart may run along with him, consenting unto the truth, and drinking it in so much the better as thou art acquainted with the Scripture phrase. Again, another special help for thee in all occasions is, that thou ever take all occasions offered (yea, and move occasions, to set forth the power and majesty of God), walking, eating, drinking, and sleeping, at all occasions speaking thereof. So doth the prophet David, “ Whena I behold the heavens, even the works of thine hands the moon, and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man (I say) that thou art mindful of him ? and the Son of man, that thou visitest him ?” This was a goodly meditation, and David, no question, was then walking upon the top of his house, and thereby took an occasion thus to meditate of the power of God; so should we be ready to stir up ourselves and others, by all means to meditate all manner of ways of the power and goodness of God. If thus we be fervent and constant in prizing of mercies, if they be precious and dear unto us, the Lord, from time to time, will delight to shower down mercies more and more upon us, and we shall have this memory in good things, with store of his consolations. But if we will continue forgetful, slow, and thus negligent in remembering God, it will befal us as the Lord threateneth, “ That ye will be unto us as a very lion, and as a leopard in the way, or as a bear which is robbed of her whelps, and he will break the caul of our
a Psalm 8. ver.
b Hos. chap. 13. ver. 7, 8.
hearts.” He that will not prize mercies at an high price, God's heavy hand will be avenged upon him.
Yet is he not content to have spoken of all these benefits in general ; but now also he descendeth to the particular benefits, for God loveth not only general praises and thanksgivings, but also that we should enter into a particular reckoning of his mercies from time to time, so many as possibly may be remembered. From the beginning unto the fifth verse he entreateth of God's benefits unto himself, and from the sixth to the nineteenth, of his mercies unto others. And, first, for himself he giveth thanks unto God for deliverance from those evils which did sit close unto himself; for the present, his iniquities pardoned and his infirmities healed. First, then, he is thankful for evils removed, and next for good things bestowed upon him. First, he giveth thanks for that great and wonderful mercy, the forgiveness of sins, which is so great a benefit as no man can imagine the excellency thereof. Now in that he giveth thanks for the remission of sins, it is certain that he had confessed them before, for no man is thus thankful but he that both hath confessed and doth confess himself a sinner, a most miserable creature. In the word iniquities, therefore, he confesseth there is matter of death, enough and enough to kill him. Thus he confesseth himself a sinner before his thanksgiving. Whence our instruction is, that the straight way to heaven is not to mince sin nor hide it, but to come unto God freely, confessing the same freely, laying it in his bosom. Thus did Adam mince his sin unto God after his transgression, first, hiding himself in the garden at the voice of God, and then, when the Lord did begin to question with him, putting off the matter with excuses, laying it upon
" The woman whom thou gavest me she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” He seemeth to part the blame betwixt God and the woman, so loth he is to confess his fault. And, think you, are we not all sick of Adam's sin ? Though no creature hear us, yet how hardly are we brought to confess all unto God, to number up all our particular sins, and shame our
selves. I appeal to the experience of the faithful, how hardly this is done. So Job, when he would show his innocency (amongst many other things this is a principal purgation), “ Ifo (saith he) I have hid my sin as Adam did, concealing mine iniquities in my bosom, though I could have made afraid a multitude, yet the most contemptible of the families did fear me.” God loveth not when we mince our sins: the more vile and ugly we make them, the more excellent comfort and surer seal of forgiveness followeth. So David confesseth, that so long as he held his tongue and minced sin, not being throughly grieved nor confessing the same, his bones were consumed, roaring all the day. But when all that would not help, nor yield any comfort, God's hand being heavy upon him night and day, and his moisture turned into the drought of summer, “ Thend (saith he) I confessed my sins unto thee, (it booteth not to hide anything from thee, who art an allseeing Majesty ;) neither did I hide mine iniquity, for I thought I would confess against myself my wickedness unto the Lord; and thou forgavest mine iniquity, even the punishment of my sin.” Here then, you see, in confessing. of sins unto God, a quite contrary course must be used than is in our justice courts upon
To God we must confess freely, and all, shaming ourselves ; in courts of justice we will not but upon compulsion, by witnesses, or so much as we must needs. Again, so also we see the prodigal son, he went a-rioting and wasting all his goods, yet without any remorse; then need and hunger pinching him, he was content that so long as he could get any husks to feed with the swine, to have remained in that estate ; but this small comfort being denied unto him, when he is altogether comfortless, then the text saith) when he came unto himself, when he was in his right wits, he resolveth to come and submit himself unto his father, confessing of his sins in the most humble manner. So that it appeareth when a man is in his right wits he will never rest until he have, in all humility, made confession of all his sins unto
© Job, clap. 31. ver. 33, 34.
d Psalm 32. ver. 5.