My Bonfire of Vanities!

(Alexander Smellie, "On the Secret Place" 1907)

"Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their books and burned them at a public bonfire! The value of the books was several million dollars." Acts 19:18-19

No conflagration could be more desirable and more beneficial. I trust that it is paralleled and repeated in my own experience — for I am no Christian until it is.

When I burn my bad books,
when I turn from my old delights,
when the expulsive power of a new affection drives me irresistibly from the sinful life which I used to live
 — that is CONVERSION.

It is evidence and token that a supernatural and radical change has transformed me. It is proof that the Holy Spirit is at work in the citadel of my being. Never shall I relinquish a darling sin, never sacrifice that which brought me an iniquitous profit and an unholy pleasure — until He comes in His mightiness, and revolutionizes my nature through and through! From the soul which should have been God's Temple, but which I have debased into a den of robbers — He scourges the traffickers; and the desecrated place is renovated into the shrine and residence of the King of kings!

When I burn my bad books,
when before all men I turn from my former ways,
when I range myself openly on His part, whom I once despised and hated
 — that means CONFESSION.

"I am on the Lord's side!" is what I say, fearlessly, publicly, without abatements or concealments or regrets. No true friend of Jesus Christ can conceal his faith. It will reveal itself. It will be discerned by the onlookers, whether they sympathize or disapprove. Through all hindrances, all timidities, all plausible excuses for keeping silence — my affection for Him will make its avowal.

When I burn my bad books,
when I declare that henceforward I am a pilgrim traveling heavenward,
when transports move and thrill me to which I was a stranger until now
 — that means CONSECRATION.

Christ alone is the Master of my transfigured history! I cannot tolerate what He disapproves. I cannot harbor guests and tenants who are out of harmony with His purity and perfectness. Where He goes — I will go; and where He lodges — I will lodge. His people will be my people; and His God will be my God — nothing but death will part Him and me. Nay, death will not terminate my loyalty — but will only render it more absolute and complete!

In spirit and soul and body, in my work and in my rest — Lord, what will You have me to do?

That is a blessed day on which I kindle my Bonfire of Vanities! It cannot dawn too soon, and the fire cannot burn with too white a flame!