And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul…
Of life, that is, in the idea of the God of love. Such glimpses are given doubtless to stimulate our faith and our aspiration; and withdrawn because struggle, not perfect attainment, is the condition of actual life.
I. SOCIAL UNITY. It rested on a common faith, a common ideal, a common sentiment. Union with God is the only basis of human social union. Here, from the depths of the spirit-life, this principle was for a brief space brought to light. What was then made visible fact is constantly the invisible fact and ground of the spiritual kingdom.
II. ITS EXPRESSION. The abolition of property. Property is the most tenacious of institutions, because it is the product and the insurance of the person, the individual, the self of each man. Were the self-life, whose instinct is centrifugal and separates us from the commonalty, suspended, in that moment property must cease. For then the centripetal instinct, or love, must exert its force unfettered. This was what took place under the high tide of the Spirit's life in Jerusalem. Men forgot the peculiar in themselves, knew and felt only the universal. One heart, one soul; the ideal of heroes, patriots, philanthropists, was for a fleeting period realized. The magnet of the Name that reconciles drew all wills to itself. Necessarily there was an extraordinary access of power to individuals, for they drank of the very central source of all power; as we are weak who think self-interestedly and unsympathetically. And joy must accompany this entire emancipation of the spirit from the fetters of self. Nor could there be that sense of indigence which makes us ashamed and cramps our energies. All is for each, as each is for all. Self-sacrifice is the last test of love, its only infrangible proof. When the pain of self-sacrifice ceases, there the triumph of love is complete. And in the pouring of men's once private property at the apostles' feet, was the illustrious evidence of the conquest of the Prince of life over the human heart. As if to clench the argument, the special instance of Joseph's sale of his field is given. There is art in this. One such definite fact suggests a multitude of others to the imagination. Christian ethics simply teach that the inducement to work for wealth is the power for social good. Whenever this is seen to be the theory of wealth acted on in our society, it will be evidence of a new stirring of Divine love in its heart. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.