The “perfect heart” has no desire for anything unclean, has no desire to hear or listen to the recital of unclean tales; and the person who has a relish for such things has not a clean heart. If accidentally in a company where some unclean tale is started, the person, from whose heart sin has been cleansed, will turn a deaf ear. Such things are disgusting and obnoxious to him.
We do not know whether or not General Grant ever made a profession of religion, but we have heard that on a certain occasion an officer came into his tent, and with a tale on his lips, asked,
“Are there any ladies about?”
“No,” replied Grant, “but there are some gentlemen present,” and the story was not told. Many a boy has been all but ruined forever by being thrown among those older than himself self and a stream of vile, dirty tales poured out in his presence. Men do not think that even their words spoken in secret are recorded.
Friends, if you find a desire in your heart to listen to such, your heart is not clean. How many times confidence has taken wings and flown away when certain individuals, in whom great confidence had been placed, related some unclean story. Can the reader imagine for a moment that a perfect heart would have any desire for such? Of course, it was spoken in secret, yet if mankind would only stop to consider that a record is made of all words spoken in public, private and secret, and one day they must again hear them, they would be more choice in what they say. Many a boy is sent on the road downward by what he hears from the lips of those older than himself. Some communities are glad and breathe a sigh of relief when certain persons move away, because they are known to be so foul-mouthed that they corrupt the morals of every boy they get into their company. The words may be spoken in secret, but they bear fruit just the same.
The truth concerning oceans of sin and crime finds its way to the light, or to publicity. Thousands of wrong-doers are never found out and brought to punishment by the law of the land. But there is a great day coming when all must appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body according to that they have done, whether good or bad, and then all the perpetrators of hidden crime and wrongs will be brought to judgment. No less among them will stand those who, by their words, spoken in secret, have sinned against the God who allowed them to live on this earth. Those vile, vulgar words, spoken in secret; those unkind words that fell from the lips of that son or daughter to a loving parent; that unclean tale related to a select few; that unkind report of some toiling servant of God, who, innocent of the whispered malice, was giving the best of his life for the salvation of others; those unChristian remarks made that cast a suspicion upon some faithful man in order to cover up another’s actions, actions that bore anything but the print of the Divine; and all the tale-bearing, backbiting, wire-pulling actions and words enacted or spoken in secret — all, all will finally be made known on that great day. They are all written down in the books and will be made known, together with the foolish, worldly, jesting, godless, empty words spoken during the lifetime. What does the Bible say? Hear it right from the lips of Jesus Himself: “A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of Judgment.” (Matt. 12:35, 36) Exactly! A good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and a perfect heart bringeth forth a life whose owner will not be ashamed to meet it either on his death-bed or at the Judgment.
Hezekiah said, “Lord, remember how I have walked before Thee; how I have spent my life, how I have lived in public, private and secret.” Come on, friends, and tell us, were you dying, could you make Hezekiah’s prayer your plea? Have you walked before God with a perfect heart? How about your secret words?
Brother, how will you like to see yourself kneeling upon your naked left knee, your left arm bare, your left breast exposed, your hands on the Bible, and blindfolded, with a cable-tow about your neck, repeating an oath that would make a heathen blush with shame, and you a professing Christian? How will you like to hear yourself saying that you would be willing to have your throat cut across, your tongue torn out by it roots and buried in the rough sands of the sea; or willing to have your left breast torn open, your heart plucked out and given as a prey to the beasts of the field, or fowls of the air; or, having your body severed in twain, your bowels taken out, burned to ashes and scattered to the four winds of Heaven? You spoke hem in secret, didn’t you? Well, you will hear them again at the Judgment, and they will not be secret there.
It would have been bad enough for a man who made no profession of religion whatever to take such an oath, but for you, a professing child of God, in such a semi-nude condition, to go in among a crowd of men, many of them blasphemers, men who curse and care not for your Christ, men who live impure, unholy lives, and say to them that you, a child of God, were seeking light in such a place and in such a company; turning your back on Jesus, who alone can give light, and get on your knees, and in direct contradiction of the words of Jesus, allow such words to fall from your lips — what do you suppose He, who died to redeem you from such, will have to say to you when you stand before Him? Great God, we pray Thee, open the eyes of men to see what a sin and folly they are in, and help them to realize and remember that their actions and their words they will meet again.
Brother, get angry at us if you like, curse us if you will, but before the Judgment Bar of Almighty God we will challenge you to say we did not warn you. You may turn from us, but when before the open books you stand, you cannot, and shall not be able to say, “I did not know; I never heard that I must face my secret actions, or my words again, and face them in the presence of Him whose smile is Heaven, whose frown is Hell.”
You may choose the ritual of your lodge instead of the words of Jesus, and after you have fought your battles with death, after the grim, silent monster has enfolded you in his icy embrace, silenced your voice, set your eyes in their sockets, and frozen your blood in the veins, then your brethren from the lodge may walk about your open grave, throwing in their twig, and say, “Alas, my brother!” — and indeed and in truth it will be alas, for your immortal spirit that once dwelt in that house of clay will have gone naked and alone to stand before the Judgment-seat of Christ to receive the things done while you lived in that body you are wearing today; gone there to hear again the things that have been and are being written down in the books, as day by day your life adds to the record as you live it, and that record has been made by your actions, public, private and secret; your words spoken in public, private and secret.
Again I ask you, Were you at this hour dying, Would you pray as Hezekiah prayed, “O Lord, ‘I beseech Thee, remember now how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart”?