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Need I say a word or two about the wisdom of never hearing what was not meant for you? The eaves-dropper is a mean person, very little if anything better than the common informer; and he who says he overheard may be considered to have heard over and above what he should have done. Jeremy Taylor wisely and justly observes,
Never listen at the door or window, for besides that it contains in it a danger and a snare, it is also invading my neighbor’s privacy, and a laying that open, which he therefore encloses that it might not be open.
It is a well worn proverb that listeners seldom hear any good of themselves. Listening is a sort of larceny, but the goods stolen are never a pleasure to the thief. Information obtained by clandestine means must, in all but extreme cases, be more injury than benefit to a cause. The magistrate may judge it expedient to obtain evidence by such means, but I cannot imagine a case in which a minister should do so. Ours is a mission of grace and peace; we are not prosecutors who search out condemnatory evidence, but friends whose love would cover a multitude of offenses. The peeping eyes of Canaan, the son of Ham, shall never be in our employ; we prefer the pious delicacy of Shem and Japhet, who went backward and covered the shame which the child of evil had published with glee.