I am grateful for my friend Travis who is working diligently to produce an electronic copy of the great (and forgotten) Puritan book: Anthony Burgess, Spiritual Refining, part 2. To commemorate his progress I wanted to post one of the many quotes that stand out in this priceless work. One especially fits in our series of learning to confess sins to one another.
This excerpt shows why, when we look for sermons to tickle our ears, we have thus failed to understand the purpose of the Word and preaching. The same is true of friendships.
“That one main end of the Word of God,
is to discover this deceitful heart.
It’s to make us know ourselves;
compared therefore to a glass,
that will show a deformed man all his unloveliness,
and this is a glass,
not to the face but the heart;
all those hidden and unknown lusts may there be brought to light.
And the Ministry that is compared to light;
as the sunbeams discover those many thousands of motes in the air,
which the darkness concealed;
thus the Ministry,
in a powerful and soul-saving way dispensed,
will make thee see thyself to be that beast,
yea to have that dunghill,
that hell in thy heart,
thou didst not perceive:
look then for this benefit by preaching,
not what may fit thy ear,
may please thy fancy,
but what may discover the dark corners of thy soul,
what may bring glorious light into thy breast;
that thou mayest cry out;
O Lord, how long have I lived and did not know myself!
I thought all was well,
everything was in quiet;
but now I am like the Syrian army,
that being by the Prophet stricken blind,
and thought they were guided to their own camp,
as soon as ever they had their eyes opened,
they found themselves in the midst of the enemy’s camp:
Thus thy eyes being opened,
thou seest thyself to be in the power of all thy sins,
all thy enemies and the curses of God.”
– Anthony Burgess [d. 1664]
Spiritual Refining, Part II: A Treatise of Sin, pp. 19-20
O, that we would likewise no longer be superficial in our friendships but be willing to dive into difficult conversations for the purpose of discovering the “dark corners of thy soul.” Confess your sins to one another, Paul says. What an excellent standard for true friendship.