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righteousness, and of judgment. Especially as this was no mere verbal acknowledgment of truth, or change of speculative opinion. A change of life ensued which must proceed from an abiding cause.
42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread,6 and in prayers.
43. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44. And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45. And sold their possessions, and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
For the present, circumstances rendered this necessary. Many of those who were now baptized, would be forced to relinquish their former mode of livelihood. And the apostles, together with all those who were employed under them in teaching and publishing the gospel, would, of course, stand in need of subsistence. Therefore they had all things common. He that had much supplied him that had little, "so that there was no lack." It was an extraordinary case, and met by an extraordinary provision. We shall find, as we proceed in the history, that this state of things continued but a short time. It is not, generally, the will of God, in his providential government of the world, that men should have all things common.
But the spirit which led to this, when "none of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own," is a spirit inherent in the Christian faith. That faith is, that we have in6 Eating the Lord's Supper: as v. 46.
curred the wrath of God; that the wrath of God is eternal death: and that our ransom from eternal death is the blood of Christ. Therefore, thus "bought with a price," and such a price, we are no longer "our own:"7—so these men would argue: like one who has been purchased, who has become the property of his master, together with all belonging to him, and must surrender himself to that master's use. Whatever he has need of, whatever may serve the purpose of his will, must be yielded up. Therefore they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, because the present occasion required it. The preachers of the gospel, and the believers in the gospel, could not at that moment have been otherwise maintained.
The principle remains the same to all who are led by the same spirit and live in the same faith. The only question will be, in what way they are called upon, in their particular circumstances, to act upon the principle, that they are "not their own."
46. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.8
1 1 Cor. vi. 20. 2 Cor. v. 15.
8 Touc oullofievovq. Those saved, those that were saved, or, placed in a state of salvation. There is nothing in the original to imply the sense which seems to be conveyed in the words should be.
A fresh company came daily in, and swelled the number of believers. It was the Lord's doing: the Lord added them to the church: He opened then. hearts that they should attend unto the things spoken.9 And those who thus believed and were baptized, were saved from the wrath to come.
The same language might describe a shipwreck. All who reach a certain rock are saved. First one, and then another, climb the rock, and are added to the number saved. The success of some encourages more to follow. And a hand stronger than their own is with them; gives them spirit to make the attempt, and gives them power to succeed. So it is here. Those are saved who embrace the offer of eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus. He is the rock of their salvation. And day after day, as the church,1 that is, the company of believers, became more known, and gave proofs of sincerity and piety, that company grew and multiplied. The Lord stirred up fresh hearts daily to exercise faith in Christ Jesus, and to be baptized in his name as "Lord and Christ."
9 Ch. xvi. ] 4, compare John 44.
1 The church, enxXijaia, or assembly, is here for the first time u sed to signify the company of believers: "the holy catholic church" of the Nicene creed: or, according to the Articles of the church of England, the "congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance."
PETER HEALS A CRIPPLE, AND EXPLAINS TO THE PEOPLE THE POWER WHICH HE HAD USED.— A. D. 33.
Acts iii. 1—16.
1. Now Peter and John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
At the ninth hour, three o'clock of our time, these two apostles went to prayer in the temple. Three such times were appointed among the Jews, answering to nine, twelve, and three, with ourselves. Therefore David said, "Evening and morning and at noon-day will I pray and cry aloud." And Daniel, in conformity with this practice, when the temple was no longer open to him, still "kneeled upon his knees three times a-day, and prayed and gave thanks before God."1 This intermediate refreshment serves to keep the heart with God, and counteracts the influence of the ordinary business of the world.
Few can seek this refreshment in the temple itself, as at Jerusalem; but every place may be a temple, if the soul is lifted up towards God.
1 Daniel vi. 10.
2. And a certain man, lame from his mother's womb, was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple, which is called Beautiful,1 to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
3. Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
4. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.
7. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up; and immediately his feet and ancle-bones received strength.
8. And he, leaping up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
This was a remarkable miracle, performed upon a well-known person, in a public place and manner. And the reason is plain, why God at that time bestowed such power upon the apostles.
When God commanded Moses (Exodus iv. 1) to go to his countrymen the Israelites, and acquaint them that the time of their deliverance was come, and that he was commissioned to effect it, "Moses answered and said, But behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice; for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee. And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the
2 A gate of Corinthian brass, erected by Herod the Great.