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Good Words 1860
A Leaf from the Annals of a Hidden Life


To possess a good memory—such was one of the most frequently recurring wishes of earlier years. Whenever distressing circumstances, affecting either my own or other people's happiness, reminded me sadly, and ofttimes provokingly and painfully, of forgetfulness, the impatient exclamation of my lips, or the sighing utterance of my heart, invariably was, "Oh, how I wish I had a good memory! —how I envy those who can always remember the right thing and the right time, and spare them selves and others the countless vexations that fall to my lot!"

Do any of my young friends re-echo this wish of my heart, and desire to become possessed of my secret? I will tell them how they may make it theirs, and I can assure them beforehand that they will find '' the desire accomplished sweet to the soul."

As Luther, the great Reformer, was wont to say to the students who came to him complaining of the difficulties which lay in the path to literary success, "To pray well is to study well," so now, I say to you, To pray well is to remember well. If you would remember well and wisely,—if you would remember all that is essential to be remembered,—all that is calculated to add both to your own happiness and usefulness and to that of those around you,—plead the promise of the Saviour, "He (the Holy Ghost) shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John xiv. 26.) Plead it daily and earnestly, asking that it may be fulfilled in your own experience, and the forgetfulness you deplore will decrease, it may be rapidly, as in my own case, but at any rate certainly, for "all the promises of God" are yea and amen in Christ Jesus, and none ever pleaded for their realisation in His name, and went away unsatisfied.

But do you say that such a promise, though very precious to the Christian in its relation to spiritual things, does not include the countless little things which you are obliged daily to bear in mind in order to the satisfactory fulfilment alike of the personal and relative duties of the life that now is? I reply, You have never yet realised the fulness of that promise, or you would not have to mourn its insufficiency to fulfil all your need. Shall I endeavour to analyse it, and shew you its adaptation to the little as well as the great things of life? Nay, you shall dissect it for yourselves, that the joy of the discovery may be your own. I will only ask you one question—a suggestive one—and then leave you to pursue the train of thought it will awaken in a thinking-mind. Do you not believe that in the ''things which Christ hath said unto you" you have an all-sufficient rule of faith and practice—a treasury of practical as well as of doctrinal knowledge? If not, dear young friends, you have read your Bibles to very little purpose. Every duty of life, from the least even to the greatest, has been written, as with a sunbeam, in the pages of Revelation by the finger of God. All, therefore, that the memory need retain for our present and eternal blessedness is wrapped up in that brief but comprehensive promise of our Lord—"He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

The promise is, first, that He shall teach you all things—all essential truth—all the things that belong to your peace; and, secondly, that having taught you, He will also keep you in remembrance of all that you need to know. What a casket of treasures is here! A lifetime shall not suffice to put you in possession of the whole, while yet the prayer of faith shall enrich you daily, enabling you to draw from the springs of memory—if you first supply them freely from the Fountain—waters as refreshing as they are inexhaustible. A. pious and evangelical minister—a man greatly beloved for his works' sake, as well as for his Christ-like spirit—once addressed a class of young people, when speaking on the subject before us, as nearly as I can remember in the following words, " Whatever we clearly understand, and deeply feel, the memory retains and the life exhibits." Experience has since taught me the truth of the first clause of that memorable sentence, and the lesson has been one of great blessedness. Oh that the last clause may be verified also, both in my own experience and in that of all who shall read this memorial, making us become "living epistles of Christ, known and read of all men!"

What a glorious hope is set before us, dear young friends, when we are called upon to shine as lights in the world!

But how shall we fulfil this high and holy calling?

By revolving in an inner circle (would it might be in the inmost circle!) around the "Sun of righteousness," "the Light of the world." The closer we keep to Jesus, the more brightly shall we reflect His image. And let us never forget that it is by keeping His commandments that we can thus abide in and near Him. And if we would keep His commandments, how needful it is that we should habitually remember His words! Thus you perceive that to possess a good memory—a memory full of good things—"things wherewith one may edify another"—is to possess one great means of enabling our light so to shine before men as to glorify our Father in heaven. It is also a great means to enable us to sit with Christ in heavenly places, and to speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, (Eph. v. 19,) thus filling the otherwise dreary and depressing seasons of sickness and solitude with a divine companionship—a joy with which a stranger cannot intermeddle—a peace that passeth understanding.

Such a memory, like every other good and perfect gift, cometh from above, and is freely given in answer to the prayer of faith.

May it be yours, dear young readers, to ask and receive it, and with it wisdom to use it aright, to the glory of God, the edification of your fellow-men, and the present and eternal welfare of your own souls—so shall your path be that of the justified, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day!

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