And all that believed were together, and had all things common;…
To those whose eyes are opened wide, because their hearts are truly loving, there is no time in God's whole year that is equal to this (Whitsuntide) time of fullest bloom. The soul of man is greatened by promises of the future, and he walks the earth in gladness because of the glorious bloom around him. But it is sad when autumn comes to see the pitiful harvest. I have seen that of a hundred blossoms on a given tree only one came to perfection. There is pathos and tragedy in that, for I see in it human life. Of a thousand babes that are born — God's holiest blossoms — how many come to manhood? Why this waste? Yet God knows best. It is His law that the bloom shall be plentiful, and that some may remain for fruit. Some must fall, but the few that remain are a prophecy of what shall be, and man must learn that a little fruit of God is worth a great waste of bloom. "All that believed were together," etc.: the doctrine was received into gladsome hearts. The spring heat was come, the winter had vanished. But what became of it? When a man looks round the world nowadays, what a strange blossom that seems to be! Who would try to gather it? When lovers, newly entranced, are scarce able to see common daylight, or to comport themselves with common sense, what are they to do? Bloom, blossom! But the blossom will not last. It is so like that outbreak of communism — and we know that did not last. But it will come again ultimately. It is the Word of God, the end of civilisation, the aim of all holy souls, that the holy city, the New Jerusalem, shall descend to earth. Here, then, is this first blossom of Christian faith, which was the natural outbreak of loving hearts. But these blossoms could not last, because the blossoms of love have to blow out in the cold, and be tried by the storm, as the blossoms of the tree must have the wind to nip them — but they prophesied as they died. Watching a little child's life, what glorious blossoms of unselfishness we see sometimes I But they don't last. The cynic sneers at this, but the wise man rejoices, for these blossoms tell him of what man may come to under more perfect conditions. And so these men got scattered, and by degrees the old world resumed its sway over them. Nevertheless, there yet remains the ultimate outcome of the Christian faith. We smile at these men, but only as a loving father smiles upon his little child who cries for the moon, because his ambition is so lofty and its realisation so impossible. Yet the Christian religion is making progress, and having its effect in working out of us what is evil and low, and what it is working out of us it will ultimately work out of the whole world. For what else mean the various efforts to put all things at the service of all men? Some of you who are much given to admiring the pictures of saints can now have a library full of the souls of the ancients; for far beyond all the saints you can paint on windows are those shelves filled with the books of the men of olden time. For in these books are the spirits of the fathers — of John Milton, of William Shakespeare — the thoughts of the wise, the songs of the minstrels, the gathered honey of all nations. And over all this is written "Free Library" — holy words which the Holy Ghost Himself might have inspired. By and by education too shall be like the gospel — free to all, crying, "Come unto me, all ye that labour," and "he that hath no money, come buy wine and milk without money and without price." Since I was a boy what has not been done to restore Pentecost? I have long given up the dream of my youth — that all men could do as these men did — live in a community. Robert Owen tried it; thousands have tried it, but they have given it up. All attempts at communism, in any practical form, have died out, gone into history, but the fruit remains. At every point we are winning — hours of leisure, places of recreation, flee libraries, free roads, free churches, free speech, cheap books. Therefore when I hear that the National Gallery is opened free to the public my soul is glad. For the beautiful works of art of the nation are there; they are not now shut up in rich men's houses, but belong alike to all. What has God to do with the rich? Did He send His sun to shine simply for the rich? Nay, but for the beggar also. The Spirit of Christ is always toward the Pentecostal blossom; but that it may become golden fruit there must be large loving; all thought of self must be consumed by the love of God. God's gifts are many; strive as far as possible to have all things common, especially the greatest things. I smile when I see men saving a little property of their own, and keeping apart from one another; for the best and greatest things are fast passing into the hands of every one. Books are cheap, and when books are cheap the inspiring things of God belong to all. High price of books means Pentecost impossible. Let every man judge his own heart to what degree the love of God has entered it, for in that degree he will be willing that all things should be common, especially the highest and greatest things. Some men smile at this doctrine, and think that we mean the dividing of money or property. No, keep your money! Free libraries, picture galleries, churches, etc. — all these we have won, and we shall win more yet. So you may keep your old purse. Those blossoms that did stop on the tree are now bearing rich and golden fruit which shall last for ever. Christianity is the death-blow of privilege, the scorner of pedigree, the ridiculer of fine linen. It turns its back on all these and says, "When thou makest a feast, call the poor," etc.; for the Christian religion means the opening of the gate of heaven to all men. It is the religion whose first miracle was to turn water into wine for humble people, and is slowly bringing back the Pentecostal spirit; not with a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire, but with the sweetness of charity. You would do well to get it into your plans of daily life, that the day will come when all the nations of Europe shall be Pentecostal, for they shall have passed from feudalism to federalism, and the custom-house shall be abolished, and all nations shall be "together and have all things common."
(Geo. Dawson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And all that believed were together, and had all things common;