HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

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

The Most Perilous Sins

And may I say that among all our sins there are perhaps none more perilous than our secret sins. And they are perilous just because in them we have the preparation for our open falls. Our great sins are seldom momentary overthrows. They seldom reach us like bolts out of the blue. These dark and tragic falls that we all know are not isolated and independent things. They reach us by the hidden ways of darkness and out of the silent and interior life so that on every hour of wreckage and disaster there is the pressure of our secret faults.

For every noble act you ever did, there was a conscious and an unconscious preparation. You were getting ready for it not only when you strove, you were getting ready when you never dreamed of it. By every virtue you clung to in the dark–by every beautiful thought you ever cherished–by the self-denials of each routine morning–you have been getting ready for your nobler hours. That is the road by which we reach our victories, and that is the road by which we reach our tragedies.

Our sudden overthrows, when the character was forfeited, are never quite so sudden as we think.

  • Through secret faults–
  • Through covetings unchecked–
  • Through lusts unbridled when they were still imaginations–

A man goes out to his hours when peace is lost and the shame of the vanquished is written on his brow.

Professor Drummond, in his Tropical Africa, tells of the secret ravages of the white ants. He tells of their enormous powers of destruction and how insidiously and secretly they work. He tells how a man may be sitting in his hut and may think of it as strong as on the day he built it, when suddenly he may discover that there is nothing around him but a shell. Silently the white ants have been at work eating out the heart of every beam: no one has seen them–no one has heard them toiling–no one has had any warning of their presence. And then in a moment comes the revelation when the very pillars of the house tremble, and the secret ravage is revealed.

“Cleanse thou me from secret faults–keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.”

Answer that first prayer, our blessed Saviour, and in it, we shall have our answer to the second. For all those open shames of word and deed that we cannot remember without self-loathing are but the lurid flowering of that nightshade whose roots are in the secret of the heart.


Author: Godfrey Gregg

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