32. And the multitude which believed had one heart and one soul; and no man did say that any of those things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33. And the apostles did bear witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ with great power; and great grace was upon them all. 34. For there was one among them that kicked: for so many as possessed lands or houses, setting them, they brought the price of those things which were sold, 35. And they laid it at the feet of the apostles: and it was distributed to every man according as he had need. 36. And Joses, which was suremined of the opostles Barnabas, (which is, the son of comfort,) a Levite, of the country of Cyprus, 37. Whereas he had land, he sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
And surely where faith beareth the chief sway, it doth so knit the hearts of men together, that all of them do both will and nill one thing. For discord springeth hence because we are not all governed with the same Spirit of Christ. It is well known that by these two words,
Hereby it appeareth what that meaneth, that no man counted anything his own, but they had all things common. For no man had his own privately to himself, that he alone might enjoy the same, neglecting others; but as need required, they were ready to bestow upon all men. And now we must needs have more than iron bowels, seeing that we are no more moved with the reading of this history. The faithful did at that day give abundantly even of that which was their own, but we are not only content at this day wickedly to suppress that which we have in our hands, but do also rob others. They did and faithfully bring forth their own; we invent a thousand subtile shifts to draw all things unto us by hook or by crook. They laid it down at the apostles' feet, we fear not with sacrilegious boldness to convert that to our own use which was offered to God. They sold in times past their possessions, there reigneth at this day an insatiable desire to buy. Love made that common to the poor and needy which was proper to every man; such is the unnaturalness of some men now, that they cannot abide that the poor should dwell upon the earth, that they should have the use of water, air, and heaven. 6
Wherefore, these things are written for our shame and reproach. Although even the poor themselves are to blame for some part of this evil. For seeing goods cannot be common after this sort, save only where there is a godly agreement, and where there reigneth one heart and one soul; many men are either so proud or unthankful, or slothful, or greedy, or such hypocrites, that they do not only so much as in them lieth quite put out the desire to do well, but also hinder ability. And yet must we remember that admonition of Paul, that we be not weary of well-doing, (Galatians 6:9.) And whereas, under color of this, the Anabaptists and fantastical [fanatical] men have made much ado, as if there ought to be no civil property of goods amongst Christians, I have already refuted this folly 7 of theirs in the second chapter. For neither doth Luke in this place prescribe a law to all men which they must of necessity follow, while that he reckoneth up what they did in whom a certain singular efficacy and power of the Holy Spirit of God did show itself; neither doth he speak generally of all men, that it can be gathered that they were not counted Christians which did not sell all that they had.
1 "Sincero cordis affectu," with sincere affection of heart, omitted.
2 "Nam et externa beneficentia nisi oriatur ex corde, nihili est coram Deo," for even an external beneficence, if it comes not from the heart, is of no value in the sight of God, omitted.
3 "Benefici," beneficient.
4 "Latius exponit," expoundeth more at large.
5 "Adhibitam fuisse prudentiam," that prudence was used.
6 . "Ut communem terrae habitationem, communem aquae, aeris, et coeli usum pauperibus invideant," that they envy the poor a common dwelling on the earth, the common use of water, air, and sky.
7 "Delirium," delirium.