As we saw in the first part of this series, the memory is an amazing faculty. God has given it to us to use for his glory, and I can hardly think of anything more glorifying to Him than memorizing His Word! It is our duty to labor to improve our memories, and then to put all of what we remember into practice! So the following is an embellishing of part one, and an answering of the questions, "Why should I pray for God's grace to help improve my memory? Exactly what are the benefits that I will gain?"
The first paragraph is an introduction to the rest.
The sanctification of the memory by fitting things laid up in memory for use and practice. –– This is plainly the work of God by his grace. A notional memory is of little use without a practical; as treasure in a chest is no way useful, though there be much of it, as a penny in the purse, when there is occasion for it. “The steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,” and on those who “remember to do his commandments.” (Psalm 103:17, 18). And certainly they who commit things to their memories on this design to practice them, shall be able to remember them, when they have need of them, in the course of their practice.
A good memory is very helpful and useful as a great means of knowledge.––For what use is your reading or hearing, if you remember nothing? It is not eating or drinking, but digesting your food, that keeps you alive; and so it is in this case: “My son,” not only “be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings,” but “keep them within your heart.” Then “they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” (Prov. 4:20-22)
A good memory is very helpful and useful as a means of faith.––As is plain in 1 Cor 15:2––“Unless you have believed in vain.” For, though faith rests purely on the word of God, yet when the word and works of God are forgotten, faith will stagger. Hence our Savior says, “O you of little faith, do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand?” etc. (Matt. 16:8-9.) “The word of God is the sword of the Spirit,” (Eph. 6:17), whereby Satan is foiled: but if this sword be out of the way by reason of forgetfulness, how shall we conflict with the enemy??
It is a means of comfort.––If a poor Christian in distress could remember God’s promises, they would inspire him with new life; but when they are forgotten, his spirits sink. Our way to heaven lies over hills and vales: when we are on the hill, we think we shall never be in the dumps again; and so, when we are in the valley, we fear we shall never have comfort again. But now, a faithful memory is a great help: “Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.' I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:10-11). So also, Psalm 119:52: “When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.”
It is a means of repentance.––For, how can we repent or mourn for what we have quite forgotten? As, therefore, there is a blameworthy remembrance of sin, when we remember it in kindness; so there is a praiseworthy remembrance of sin, when we remember it with displeasure: “That you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame.” (Ezek. 16:63). But, alas! We write our sins in sand instead of stone, and foolishly imagine that the eternal God forgets them just as soon as we; though in such cases he has said and sworn, “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” (Amos 8:7)
And it is a means of usefulness.––No man should, nor indeed can, be singly religious. When one spark of grace is truly kindled in the heart, it will quickly endeavor to heat others also. So for counsel: we are born, we are new-born, to be helpful to others. Herein a good memory is exceedingly useful; out of which, as out of a storehouse, a wise Christian may “bring forth matters both new and old.” (Matt. 8:52). Such may say, “We have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us,” this and that observation. (Psalm 44:1). Likewise, “As we have heard, so have we seen,” what may be very useful to many a soul. (Psalm 48:8).
So that, you see, a good memory is useful in many ways, as a means of knowledge, faith, comfort, repentance, and usefulness. What Christian would not desire these things??? It is my prayer that you would be moved by this small endeavor. God will be pleased if we use our memories for his glory. We cannot but help glorifying Him if we use our memories to "store up his Word in our hearts that we might not sin against him!" Psalm 119:11
The next and last part of the series will be about very practical ways to improve your memory.