(Arthur Pink, "Forgetting" 1950)
What a wonderful thing is the memory — one of the many precious faculties with which the Creator has endowed us. By it we are enabled . . .
to live the past over again in our minds,
to revive the early experiences of childhood,
to recall the words of those who are no longer with us.
By it, we may review the Lord's dealings with us in grace and in providence, call back to mind His interventions on our behalf, delivering us when in straits — or rejoicing our hearts while He talked with us along the way. By it, we can turn over the pages of our chequered lives, and read what is recorded both for and against us.
Memory is the power of retention, the storehouse in which all our knowledge is preserved. It is not possible to assess its value in silver and gold. How much poorer would we be — if everything were erased from its tablets! One of the greatest tragedies of life, is for a person to lose his mind and memory. It is indeed hard to part with any faculty, but, if compelled to make the choice, probably most of us would rather be deprived of our limbs, our hearing, or even our sight, than our mentality — yet comparatively few cultivate and use it as they should.
The memory is indeed of vast importance, for it is the treasurer of the soul. What the understanding takes in — the memory stores up. Knowledge, intellectual growth, social fellowship, the spiritual life — all have their roots in this faculty of retention. But this invaluable gift, like all others, entails a corresponding obligation. Each talent that God has bestowed upon us is for use — and if it is not employed, it will deteriorate. As unexercised limbs become stiff, and muscles flabby — so an unused memory becomes enfeebled. The memory may be developed and controlled — though time and trouble are required for this, as for everything else of worth.
Memory is largely a matter of volition. Said the Psalmist, "I will not forget your word" (119:16). Definiteness of purpose is required, whether we shall recall a thing or dismiss it from our minds. Remembering is a setting of knowledge to work, reviewing the notions and impressions we have received, by exercising our thoughts about and meditating upon them.
The seat of the memory is the heart. Of Mary it is said, that she kept all these things "in her heart" (Luke 2:19, 51) — things kept there, are never lost.
This leads us to point out that there is both a notional or speculative remembering — and a practical or influential one. The former is where we barely think of things — and receive no profit or benefit from them. The latter is where the mind is so engaged with the object recalled — that the affections are fired and the will moved by it. Thus the faculty of memory is given us by God as a means unto an end — to be a help in promoting piety.
The Scriptures abound with exhortations to remembrance. At the fore of them, we would place that one where those of tender years are bidden, "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Bear in mind that, since He is your Maker, He is therefore your rightful Lord and Owner — so conduct toward Him as such, rendering unto Him the homage and honor that are His due. Meditate much upon His glorious perfections; call Him to mind constantly while your heart is yet impressionable, and habits for good or evil are being formed for life; and thereby you will be fortified against the temptations of youth. All of men's wickedness and misery comes through forgetting God, hence the warning, "Beware that you forget not the LORD your God!" (Deuteronomy 8:11).