You do not think there is any evil in a thing unless somebody sees it, do you? You feel that it is a very great sin if your master finds you out in robbing the till—but there is no sin if he should not discover it—none at all. And you, sir, you fancy it to be very great sin to play a trick in trade, in case you should be discovered and brought before the court; but to play a trick and never be discovered, that is all fair—do not say a word about it. “Mr Spurgeon, it is all business; you must not touch business; tricks that are not discovered, of course you are not to find fault with them.” The common measure of sin is the notoriety of it. But I do not believe in that. A sin is a sin, whether done in private or before the wide world. It is singular how men will measure guilt. A railway servant puts up a wrong signal, there is an accident; the man is tried, and severely reprimanded. The day before he put up the wrong signal, but there was no accident, and therefore no one accused him for his neglect. But it was just the same, accident or no accident, the accident did not make the guilt, it was the deed which made the guilt, not the notoriety nor yet the consequence of it. It was his business to have taken care—and he was as guilty the first time as he was the second, for he negligently exposed the lives of men. Do not measure sin by what other people say of it; but measure sin by what God says of it, and what your own conscience says of it. Now, I hold that secret sin, if anything, is the worst of sin; because secret sin implies that the man who commits it has atheism in his heart.
For meditation: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23)—one day God is going to reveal the secrets of men (Romans 2:16). There is a world of difference between being truly sorry for our sin itself and just feeling sorry for ourselves when we get found out (Hebrews 12:17).