HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.” Psalm 19:12

The secret faults of which the psalmist is speaking in this verse are the faults that are secret from even ourselves. They are the sins and failings in your life and mine of which we are unconscious. There are some faults we can keep secret from the world, and yet they are well known to those at home. The people we meet in the street may not suspect them, but our wives or mothers know them all too well. And there are other sins which a man may do in business so that his name smells rank among honourable dealers, yet the shadow of them may never touch his home nor the innocent faces of his adoring children. Such faults are secret beyond a certain circle. Love casts the mantle of her glorious silence around them. But it is not these of which the psalmist thinks when he cries, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” He thinks of the faults and sins which in the sight of God we are committing, and yet we are ignorant of them and have never been awakened to them and are not conscious they are there at all.

Now that there are such faults in every one of us may be demonstrated along many lines. Think, for instance, how certain it becomes when we remember what we see in others. Is there anyone known to you, however good or beautiful, on whose faults or failings you could not put your finger? Is there any friend or lover or child or wife or minister whose weakness you have not long ago detected? They may not see it–it never obtrudes on them–they are quite unconscious that it is obvious to you. And so also as our neighbours move among us daily, and we see a hundred faults which they are blind to. Do not exempt yourself, I beg of you, from this general censure of humanity. You are bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh, born with their weakness, tempted with their sin. The very fact that all of us can see the mote that is in our brother’s eye is proof that we have one on our own.

The certainty of such faults is proved again by the general ignorance of our own nature. There is not a man or woman whose life is not full of secret possibilities.

  • Let the finger of love but touch a woman’s heart, and you shall hardly know that woman by and by.
  • Let motherhood come with all its infinite mystery, and she is enriched to the very heavens.
  • Let a man be converted by the grace of God, as Paul was converted on the Damascus road, and life is expanded into undreamed-of fullness.

We all surprise each other now and then, and now and then we all surprise ourselves–when love comes, or some great wave of emotion, or the sound of a trumpet and the call to battle. And if we believe in secret possibilities, on the basis of which Christ wrought from first to last, must we not also believe in secret sins? The fact is we should believe it instantly if it were not for the presence of self-love. Love thinketh no evil of the loved one, even when the loved one is oneself. And so in our secret virtues, we believe, and in the hidden possibilities within us, but from our secret faults we turn away. That common attitude is intellectual cowardice. It is a man’s first duty to face all the facts. To flatter other men is bad enough, but to flatter one’s own self is far more deadly. And therefore if you believe in hidden heights within you, I ask you also to believe in hidden depths and to cry as David cried, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”


Author: Godfrey Gregg

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