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to a friend, for he will have a friend; no, not to a husband, for he will inform a wife; no, not to a wife, for she will enlighten her husband, and somebody may the neighbourhood. We read in Ecclesiastes, x. 20, “Curse not the king, no, not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber; for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” Such is the disposition of man to communicate, that if you think curses, you will be in danger of revealing your thoughts; and if you pronounce curses, even in your bedchamber, against the rich, they will hear of it, and you will be exposed. Your servants, and even your partners, will be as birds of the air, rapid in their flight to communicate intelligence. Fame has wings, and flies from house to house, proclaiming in a few hours the secrets of the bedchamber to the whole village. It seems to be the opinion of the wise man, that if any have secrets, they should keep them locked up within their own breasts. Washington was once importuned by a very inquisitive host to communicate, confidentially, his plans of operation. “Friend,” said that great man, “can you keep your own secrets?” “I can,” answered the host. “And so can I keep mine,” rejoined the celebrated warrior and statesman; which happily terminated all impertinent inquiries. Had Solomon found all men of similar disposition and character, he had not written some proverbs, which are a satire upon mankind, severely just. “It is a sport to a fool to do mischief.” “A man of understanding holdeth his peace.” “A tale-bearer revealeth secrets; but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” “Wise men lay up knowledge; but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.” “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin; but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” “There

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to keep silence. There is a time to talk, and a time to refrain from talking. There are subjects upon which we may speak; and there are matters relating to ourselves and others, of which we should say nothing. He who reveals his own secrets, is a fool; and he who reveals the secrets of others, intentionally, is a knave. From the connexion, I am persuaded, that the word secret, in the text, was used by the wise man, to denote something relating to another, of which we should not speak. “Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself, and discover not a secret to another; lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.” The text may be paraphrased thus: If you know of any thing to the disadvantage of your neighbour, do not publish it; but go privately, and tell him his fault, in a friendly manner; for by needlessly proclaiming the truth, to his injury, you bring upon yourself the disgraceful imputation of malevolence. He to whom you tell the fault of a neighbour, will consider you either a slanderer, or a tattler; and thus you will be disgraced in his estimation. After you have acquired the reputation of a busybody, you will always be suspected and avoided. You will not easily retrieve your character. The blot of infamy, with which you stain yourself, will not soon be wiped away. If you discover the sins of a neighbour, which are known only to yourself, you injure him in the view of others, and lead others to apprehend, that you are a spy upon their conduct, watching an opportunity to expose them also. The word neighbour in the language of the holy scriptures, intends any person with whom we have any

| concern, acquaintance or connex

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ion. In the parable of the good Samaritan, Christ has taught us, that if we pass along, and find a wounded stranger in the road, we are to esteem him a neighbour. The word embraces all men, from the partner, to the traveller, and the savage; to whom, though distant, we may perform an act of kindness. The text being thus explained, gives rise to several useful remarks. I. All men are guilty of some secret sins. By this it is not intended that any sins are concealed from the omnipresent God; for he looketh on the heart, and in the retired and dark place he is with us. He hears our words, sees our actions, and knows our thoughts. Darkness and light are alike to him; and he is as much present in the crooked way and .. hut, as in the house of prayer. "... many of our sins are known only to God and ourselves. These are called secret sins, because they are unknown to the world. In like manner, many of the crimes of an individual are known only to a few persons, and these in opposition to notorious immoralities, may be called secret sins. Many, many are the crimes which are known only by three persons; by God, by the perpetrator, and by some equally guilty companion.— Two human beings are often partners in iniquity, who mutually tempt, are tempted, and transgress. Each sins against the other. In other cases, one sins and another suffers the injury: and again, one transgresses, and another is merely a witness. Jesus said to Nathaniel, “When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.” He was surprised, for he thought no one saw what he there did, and at once allowed Christ’s omniscience. Should Jesus speak to us, he might, probably, say to each one, in such a manner as to produce confusion of face, “When thou wast in the secret place, or under the fi tree, I saw thy sin.” Public faults are so numerous as abundantly to

prove the commission of secret of. fences; for where the former exist, the latter will certainly be found. Who will pretend, that, upon the

whole, he is really better in the

sight of God than I)avid P. Yet, he had occasion to confess, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance;” and to pray, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults: keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” II. Secret sins ought not to be made public. If God alone was the witness of our misconduct, it is suitable we should confess to him alone, and of him supplicate pardon. Others should not be made acquainted with our immoralities of heart and life, for many reasons; but especially, because the publishing of any particular sin injures the proclaimer and the hearer. Should one tell others his secret baseness, they would, perhaps, regard him less favourably, and thus he would sink in public estimation without procuring any advantage. Evil example has a seducing, pernicious influence upon mankind; and in proportion as crime is revealed, evil eacample spreads. An individual’s wicked conduct presents no allurement to vice where it is not known. Would you wish evil example to cease, you must wish the crimes which are committed not to be known. Besides, crimes, by being frequently named, become familiar, and the frequent description of immoralities diminishes the abhorrence we feel at them. Read me the history of a horrid murder, and I shall shudder at the barbarity discovered: read it a second time, and 1 shall feel less emotion: read it a third time, and I shall hear it very. calmly. There is no passage of scripture which requires an individual to publish a secret fault. In James v. 16. we are commanded to confess our faults one to another; but this is a mutual and private confession between parties concerned. If one neighbour has injured another, our

Saviour requires the injured person

to go to the offending party, and tell him his fault, privately; and this passage, in the epistle of James, requires the guilty neighbour to make suitable acknowledgments. Where two persons have both conducted improperly towards each other, they are to make mutual concessions. Our Saviour’s rule of proceeding with a brother, who has deviated from rectitude, conveys the doctrine that the greatest prossible secrecy ought to be observed concerning every sin. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” Why should the parties be alone? That the scandal may be concealed. “If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more.” Why should not more be taken P Two or three witnesses are sufficient; and if the matter can be privately settled, it is desirable that only a few should know of the offence. If reparation can be made for an offence in private, it is preferable to public conviction and censure. Our text conveys the same idea. If you have any difficulty to settle with your neighbour; if he has so to sin, and you know it; if e has formed vicious habits, and you would reform him; if he has done any thing to offend you as a sufferer, or as a man and a Christian, “debate thy cause with th neighbour imo Argue wit him, and attempt to convince and reclaim him; instead of creeping slily to a neighbour's house, and communicating the report, with an injunction to keep silence. “Discover not a secret to another.” Rather hate the sin, pity the person, and be as silent as you would wish him to be, were you,

like him, tempted, fallen, and disgraced. Conceal the occasional transgressions of one, who has like passions with yourself; remembering that you may soon need similar indulgence and friendship. Recollect the story of Noah’s disgrace, and the conduct of his three sons. Undoubtedly, Noah was drunken, but that did not excuse Ham for exposing his father.— Shameful son when he saw the sad condition of his father, he told his two brethren. He should have been silent. He should have done as Shem and Japhet did; who would not behold their venerable sire in disgrace. They “took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” This leads me to remark, III. That those who reveal secret sins bring upon themselves disgrace and infamy. This is the motive urged in the text, to prevent men from discovering a secret to another. If you do not debate your cause with your neighbour himself, and keep silence with respect to others, he who heareth your report shall put thee to shame, and thine infamy shall be lasting. You may repeat to me some tale which |. your neighbour, and I will ask, “Why did you inform me of this?” What answer could you give, which would not, by implication, at least, disgrace yourself? You would acquire the lasting infamy of a tale-bearer; for you could neither expect to benefit me, nor yourself, nor others, by exposing him. You could not even claim the false praise of many, who, — “though faultier much themselves, pretend Their less offending neighbour's faults to mend.”

The disgrace of discovering secret sins will be manifest, if we attend to the motives which commonly actuate a tattler. Those who talk must have some reason for talking, or they must speak without motives. Tattlers are commonly influenced by malevolence. They have a pleasure in wounding the reputation of their fellow men. They love to see them suffer in the opinion of their acquaintance. If they do not delight in the misery of others, why should they augment it? Possibly the tattler has no character of his own to support or lose, and therefore wishes to reduce others to his level. This is pure unadulterated malevolence. It is hatred, such as devils feel. Envy sometimes induces one to say all he can, with truth, to the disadvantage of another. And what is envy, but a kind of malevolence P When, therefore, we hear any person describing the actions or sentiments of another, so as to make him appear ridiculous, we conclude that some baneful passion rankles in his bosom. He cannot hope to do good, by exhibiting the darkest side of the human picture to the scorn and derision of the multitude. He knows that he shall produce misery in the mind of the injured person, and in the hearts of his friends. He is, therefore, the hateful person who smiles at the tears, and exults at the blushes, the sighs, and the groans of one, who in a fatal moment was tempted, sinned, and by a single act, ruined his temporal peace. If the tattler be exculpated from the charge of malevolence, he must at least plead guilty to the accusation of folly and stupidity. , What can be more foolish than the love of gossipping? How stupid must he be, who from the love of talking.exoses others, and even his friends? Talk, talk, is the very soul and life of some. They would nearly as soon be dead as silent; and since their information is small, they must prattle about the scandal of

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“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom,” is the prophet’s prayer, designed for the use and benefit of the church. On what ought we to suppose this prayer is founded ? The 90th psalm explains it. It is founded on the shortness of the present life, and on the necessity of a preparation of heart, to obtain a peaceful death and a glorious eternity.

The fashion of this world passeth away. In the original the word rendered fashion, signifies an accidental and external figure, without substance. It is the dress, the covering or outside; as if all the things of the world were mere surface. This fashion, like the fleeting state of its inhabitants, passes away. “Thou carriest them away as a flood,” says the prophet. “They are as sleep: in the morning they are like grass, which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth; in the evening it is cut down and withereth.” And “we spend our years as a tale that is told.” For the fashion of this world passeth away. These words intimate the changing state of all things earthly ; and imply a contrast between this world and the world to come. Readers, blessed of heaven, you have the Bible—search it well. The beauty and the order of creation are given you there. There also, may you see the harmony which extended through these works of the Almighty;-the harmony that existed between man and the inferior creatures, whilst man was innocent. The Almighty, beholding his finished works, pronounced them very good. Innocence was then the fashion of human nature ; love and duty were the fashion of human action. But ah! the tempter eame—man sinned, broke the covenant of God, became a rebel against Jehovah, and this happy fashion passed away. Go on with the history—read further—the earth was tilled—flocks were gathered and tended. The earth became peopled, but violence was in it. And ah! with increase of numbers we find an increase of crimes. God was provoked with the wickedness of man, for it was great. “And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh.” “And every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually.” “And the Lord said, I will destroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” But Noah, the worshipper of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The ark was builded—Noah and his family entered into it: the Lord shut him in. The flood of waters came upon the earth till all flesh was destroyed, and the former fashion passed away. Again God remembered Noah and every living thing, which was with him in the ark. The waters were assuaged; the earth became

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‘Chaldean monarchy, once mistress

of the east –Thebes, with her hundred gates, and Tyre, the mart of nations, where are they P. The traveller seeks them in vain. The fashion of the world has changed, and they are passed away. The glory of Ephraim was Samaria, and the strength of Rezin was Damascus: Jerusalem was the royal palace of the house of David, and the place of Jehovah’s temple. But Ephraim was joined to his idols—Samaria was taken by enemies—her glory departed—and Damascus lost her power among the nations. And Judah forsook the Holy One; she crucified God’s Messiah, and was given over to destruction. The fashion of these ancient places, and the glory of these ancient kingdoms passed away. I imagine to myself Jerusalem, as in the days of our blessed Saviour—a noble city, with massy gates; having a temple in which the nation gloried—a temple which attracted and concentrated the Jews from the four quarters of the globe. I imagine that I see crowds of Jews from all nations flocking to Jerusa; lem to keep the sacred feasts. All seems busy—all is life. I look again;

the city is in ruins—no temple meets

my eye. The nation, humbled, cap

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