Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed…
Besides that to God, we may hold many sorts of confessions necessary before men; as —
1. Some public. And so by the Church in ordinary or extraordinary humiliation (Leviticus 16:21; Nehemiah 9:3). So also to the Church, and that either —
(1) Before entrance and admission, in which they did solemnly disclaim the impurities of their former life, professing to walk suitably to their new engagement for time to come (Matthew 3:6; Acts 19:18). Or —
(2) Upon public scandals after admission, for of secret things the Church judgeth not; but those scandalous acts, being faults against the Church, cannot be remitted by the minister alone; the offence being public, so was the confession and acknowledgment to be made public (2 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Timothy 5:20). Now this was to be done, partly for the sinner's sake, that he might be brought to the more shame and conviction; and partly because of them without, that the community of the faithful might not be represented as an ulcerous, filthy body, and the Church not be thought a receptacle of sin, but a school of holiness.
2. Private confession to men. And so —
(1) To a wronged neighbour, which is called a turning to him again after offence given (Luke 17:4), and prescribed by our Saviour (Matthew 5:24). God will accept no service or worship at our hands till we have confessed the wrong done to others. So here, confess your faults one to another, it may be referred to injuries. In contentions there are offences on both sides, and every one will stiffly defend his own cause, &c.
(2) To those to whom we have consented in sinning, as in adultery, theft, &c. We must confess and pray for each other (Luke 16:28). It is but a necessary charity to invite them that have shared with us in sin to a fellowship in repentance.
(3) To a godly minister or wise Christian under deep wounds of conscience. It is but folly to hide our sores till they be incurable. When we have disburdened ourselves into the bosom of a godly friend, our conscience findeth a great deal of ease. Certainly they are then more capable to give us advice, and can the better apply the help of their counsel and prayers to our particular case, and are thereby moved to the more pity and commiseration; as beggars, to move the more, will not only represent their general want, but uncover their sores.
(4) When in some special cases God's glory is concerned; as when some eminent judgment seizeth upon us because of a foregoing provocation, which provocation is sufficiently evidenced to us in gripes of conscience, it is good to make it known for God's glory (2 Samuel 12:13; Joshua 7:19). So when Divine revenge pursueth us if we are brought to some fearful end and punishment, it is good to be open in acknowledging our sin, that God's justice may be the more visibly cleared; and hereby God receiveth a great deal of glory, and men a wonderful confirmation and experience of the care and justice of providence.
Parallel VersesKJV: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.