Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
OBADIAH SEDGWICK (1600-1658): Sins may be termed “secret” either, 1. When they are coloured and disguised—though they do fly abroad, yet not under that name, but apparelled with some semblance of virtues. 2. When they are kept off from the stage of the world; they are like fire in the chimney; though you do not see it, yet it burns. So many a person, like those in Ezekiel, “commit abominations in secret”—that is, so as the public eye is not upon them.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): It is a disease deeply rooted in the human mind, to put some specious colour on every extreme act of iniquity.
THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): No hypocrite is totally divorced from the love and liking of every known sin. There is still some secret lust, which as a sweet morsel he rolls under his tongue, and will not spit it out. Every hypocrite lives under the dominion and reign of one base lust or another—and will do what he can to save the life of his sin—though it be with the loss of his soul.
OBADIAH SEDGWICK: A man by secret sins doth but polish and square the hypocrisy of his heart: he doth strive to be an exact hypocrite; and the more cunning he is in the palliating of his sinnings, the more perfect he is in his hypocrisy.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Hypocrisy is a lie with a fair cover over it.
JOHN CALVIN: But so stupid is hypocrisy, that while it flees from the disgrace of the world, it is careless about the judgment of God.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Job 27:8. God shall take away his soul, sorely against his will. Thy soul shall be required of thee. God, as the Judge, takes it away to be tried and determined to its everlasting state. He shall then fall into the hands of the living God, to be dealt with immediately. What will be his hope be then? It will be vanity and a lie; it will stand him in no stead.
OBADIAH SEDGWICK: It is the desire of a holy person to be cleansed, not only from public, but also from private and secret sins.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): There is a difference between hypocrisy and instability.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Saints may fall into the worst of sins unless restrained by grace, and that therefore they must watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. There is a natural proneness to sin in the best of men, and they must be held back as a horse is held back by the bit or they will run into it. Presumptuous sins are peculiarly dangerous. All sins are great sins, but yet some sins are greater than others…The presumptuous sins of our text are the chief and worst of all sins; they rank head and foremost in the list of iniquities. It is remarkable that though an atonement was provided under the Jewish law for every kind of sin, there was this one exception: But the soul that sinneth presumptuously shall have no atonement; it shall be cut off from the midst of the people, Numbers 15:30,31.
And now under the Christian dispensation, although in the sacrifice of our blessed Lord there is a great and precious atonement for presumptuous sins, whereby sinners who have erred in this manner are made clean, yet without doubt, presumptuous sinners, dying without pardon, must expect to receive a double portion of the wrath of God, and a more terrible portion of eternal punishment in the pit that is digged for the wicked. For this reason is David so anxious that he may never come under the reigning power of these giant evils: Then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. He shudders at the thought of the unpardonable sin. Secret sin is a stepping-stone to presumptuous sin, and that is the vestibule of “the sin which is unto death.” He who is not wilful in his sin, will be in a fair way to be innocent so far as poor sinful man can be; but he who tempts the devil to tempt him is in a path which will lead him from bad to worse, and from the worse to the worst.
ROBERT SANDERSON (1587-1663): Any small sin may get the upper-hand of the sinner and bring him under in time…such kind of sins, for the most part, grow on by little and little, steal into the throne insensibly, and do not exercise dominion over the enslaved soul till they have got strength by many and multiplied acts.
OBADIAH SEDGWICK: A man does by his secrecy give the reins unto corruption: the mind is fed all the day long either with sinful contemplations or projectings, so that the very strength of the soul is wasted and corrupted. Nay, secret actings do but heat and inflame natural corruption…the spring and cause of sin will grow mad and insolent hereby, and more corrupt; this being a truth, that if the heart gives way for one sin, it will be ready for the next.
ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Let me never be brought into a habit of sinning. He who sins presumptuously will soon be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): To sin presumptuously is the highest step. So in David’s account; for first he prays, Lord, keep me from secret sins―and then next he prays against presumptuous sins, which are sins against knowledge; for says he, “if they get dominion over me, I shall not be free from that great offence,” that is, that unpardonable sin which shall never be forgiven: so as these are nearest it of any other, yet not so as that every one that falls into such a sin commits it, but he is nigh to it, at the next step to it.
ALEXANDER CRUDEN (1699-1770): David prays that God would keep him back from presumptuous sins, from known and evident sins, such as proceed from the choice of the perverse will against the enlightened mind, which are committed with deliberation, with design, resolution, and eagerness, against the checks of conscience, and the motions of God’s spirit: such sins are direct rebellion against God, a despising of His command, and they provoke His pure eyes.
WILLIAM MASON (1719-1791): Alas! the most exalted saint, the most established believer, if left to himself, how soon might the blackest crimes, the most presumptuous sins, get the “dominion” over him! David had woeful experience of this for a season. He prays from a heartfelt sense of past misery, and the dread of future danger, and he found the blessing of that covenant promise: Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace, Romans 6:14.
ROBERT RUSSEL (fl. 1692-1720): Watch very diligently against all sin; but above all, take special heed of those sins that come near to the sin against the Holy Ghost; and these are, hypocrisy, taking only the outward profession of religion, and so dissembling and mocking of God; sinning wilfully against conviction of conscience, and against great light and knowledge, sinning presumptuously, with a high hand. These sins, though none of them are the direct sin against the Holy Ghost, yet they will come very near to it: therefore take special heed of them, lest they, in time, should bring you to the committing of that unpardonable sin.
MATTHEW HENRY: Hypocrisy is the way to apostasy, and apostasy is the great proof of hypocrisy.
WILLIAM GURNALL: There are two sins that claim a preeminence in hell; hypocrisy and unbelief; and therefore other sinners are threatened “to have their portion with hypocrites,” Matthew 24:51, and “with unbelievers,” Luke 12:46; as if those infernal mansions were taken up principally for these, and all others were but inferior prisoners.
SAMUEL CHADWICK (1860-1932): A hypocrite may well be termed a religious atheist, an atheist masked with religion.