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and all good which comes from God. We are going home. The boy is not afraid to go home from his school. He enjoys his school, his play, his study; but when vacation comes he enjoys going home. So we, knowing how Christ has gone to make a home for us above, a home of love, thought, work, of everything we need, cannot be very sorry when God says, Fall asleep, my child, and you shall presently awake again in the society of all your loved and lost ones, and with that dearest of all friends “whom, not having seen, you love, and in whom, though now you see him not, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
I do not close this discourse with any exhortation to "come to Jesus.” You are already with him and he with you. You have grown up with him and been taught his words from the first. You shall also be in him by partaking his spirit and living in it, if you are willing to make his objects your objects, his purposes your purposes, his work your work. His work is to help, save and bless his brethren. Join him in this work, and you will come to love him, and he shall be in you and you in him. You shall come into conformity with him. Use your power, your gifts, your talents, as he would have
his disciples. Then you have the right to feel that he is your friend. Then you will find more sunshine coming into your day, more love into your heart. Old things will pass away, all things will become new.
SPIRITUAL MNEMONICS; OR RULES FOR IMPROVING
« HE BEHOLDETH HIMSELF, AND GOETH HIS WAY, AND STRAIGHTWAY
FORGETTETH WHAT MANNER OF MAN HE WAS.”
T is a bad thing to have a poor memory. What a dif
ference there is between people in this respect! How little impression events make on some persons ! How easily. they forget names, dates, faces, the books they have read, the scenes they have visited! And how wonderfully others remember all these things ! Macaulay could repeat from memory books he had read when he was a boy; could repeat the whole of “ Paradise Lost," or one of the books of Homer. Indeed, there seems to be hardly any limit to the power of memory. A professor at Padua could repeat verbatim all the sermons preached in Lent, could remember every cast and move in games of dice and chess, and had in his mind, ready for use, 20,000 passages of civil and canon law, 7000 of Scripture, and many more from other writers. Generals have been known who recollected the name of every soldier in their army, and politicians who could call by name every man to whom they had been introduced. A good memory is the necessary basis of all intellectual action. I think the time will come when we shall know how to educate and discipline the memory, and keep it from forgetting. There will be rules for memorizing and systems of mnemonics taught in our
schools, to strengthen the memory and keep it in a healthy condition.
The most important element of such a system will probably be to form a habit of attention with the purpose of remembering. Much that we see and hear and read. we do not mean to remember, at all. It is a want of interest in what we see or hear which causes us to forget it. Whatever deeply interests us we have no difficulty in remembering. A boy forgets the errands he was told to do, forgets the lessons he has been trying to study ; but he does not forget his engagement with another boy to go a fishing. How we recollect times, places, scenes, adventures, experiences, in which our whole soul was interested! I have heard a woman describing the last days of her husband's life, or that of her child, and every minutest incident was photographed on her brain — all his last words and looks, everything the physicians said, or friends suggested, or that she herself had done. So the Evangelists recollect and record all the sayings of their master, word for word. So the man who has been in a shipwreck, or a railroad accident, or a battle, describes, with intense minuteness and accuracy, all the details, till it rises before you a vivid picture, which you also will remember always, though hearing it at second hand. The stories of travellers are interesting for the same reason, because the novelty of the scenes they visit rouses their attention, and the vivid impressions made on their own minds excite a like interest in ours. We remember that in which we are interested, because we give our attention to it.
But when we are not interested in anything, and so do not give our attention to it, we are sure to forget it. An uninteresting speech or sermon, as we say, goes into one ear and out of the other. You may make a child commit to memory, by a desperate effort, a lon list of uninterest
ing names in history, or dates in chronology ; but you cannot make them stay in his memory. Facts and lessons which do not interest us are like the plants which have no root in themselves, and soon wither away. I heard a worthy gentleman, the other evening, arguing that studies ought not to be made too interesting, because boys and girls should have the discipline of hard work. But who works the hardest, I should like to know, he whose heart is not in the work, and who has to force himself to do it by main strength of will, or he who enjoys it while he does it, or does it with the hope of future joy. It is hope and joy which give us strength to work, not disgust or indifference. The hardest intellectual work, perhaps, which man can do, is playing a game of chess, and it is also one of the most interesting of purely intellectual exercises.
But we weaken the memory by inattention, which results from the absence of a deep interest and a living purpose. If we read for mere amusement, without the expectation or intention of recollecting what we read, we weaken the memory. Most men read newspapers, not meaning to remember what they read, not selecting what they wish to remember, and so they are really cultivating the habit of forgetting. I think that newspaper-reading in a community, during two or three generations, unless it be balanced by some opposite mental practice, will sensibly impair the memory of the nation.
The reason why we do not recollect faces or names is that we do not take an interest in them. We scarcely notice the face or attend to the name. A portrait painter, interested in the study of faces, can see a person once, and go away and make a good likeness of his features.
The general rule, then, for improving the memory is, “ Take an interest in anything, and you will attend to it; attend to it, and you will recollect it.”
But what cure is there for moral forgetfulness? Here is a man who forgets all the lessons of experience. He commits the same faults over and over again. Each time, he says to himself, “ This is the last time; I will never do so again ; I will keep my resolutions hereafter.” But he goes his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he is. He is like the woman of whom it was said that
“Experience, with a world of sighs
Pụrchased, and groans and heart-break have been hers.
When I was a boy at the Boston Latin School, our master introduced one day a learned-looking gentleman, who, he told us, had come to teach us a new system of intellectual mnemonics. The word was new to us and its sound was rather appalling ; however, we found it only meant a system of artificial memory. The good gentleman wished to teach us how to help our memory in difficult cases, so that we might remember long catalogues of kings and eminent persons, recall the annals of a nation, and, in fine, repeat easily the dryest tables, historical, chronological, biographical, geographical. The thing was done by help of the law of association. We first fixed in our mind a list of familiar objects, and then associated these with the names of kings and queens. I have seen many other similar contrivances for assisting the memory. Intellectual mnemonics is a received science. But where is the science of moral and spiritual mnemonics? Who shall teach the conscience to remember its duty in the hour of temptation ? the heart to remember its best love when drawn aside to the world ?
There are many marked instances of moral forgetfulness which show the importance of such a science as this. We are very apt, for example, to forget the religious and moral truth which we hear. We are forgetful hearers of the Word.