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which were therefore a proof that he was alive; for God cannot give evidence in support of a falsebood.

And great grace was upon them all, or, "great favour was towards them all."

The extraordinary powers which they appeared to possess, the beneficent cures which they wrought, and their liberality to each other, raised the disciples very high in the estimation of many, who had not yet embraced their sentiments.

34. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

35. And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

The choice which Jesus had made of these twelve persons to be the companions of his life and the witnesses of his resurrection, pointed them out as fit objects for having this trust committed to them; and they showed themselves worthy of the trust, by distributing to every one as he had need. This implies that not a few of the first proselytes were poor; otherwise there would have been no occasion for this kind of assistance. But it shows, at the same time, that they were not all of that description, there being many persons of property among them.

36. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which

is, being interpreted, the son of consolation) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

37. Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

It is not easy to say why Barnabas is more particularly noticed in this place than other disciples: whether it is because he was the first who set the example, because he was a Levite, and such an act of liberality was not to be expected from him, or because his estate was larger than any other disposed of in this way, or for all these reasons united. From the name which the apostles gave him, "Son of Consolation," it seems evident that he bore a distinguished part in this charity. The Levites, although they had no land allotted them as a tribe in the division of Canaan, yet might purchase it individually in any part of the country. His having land to. dispose of, therefore, is not at all inconsistent with his character as a Levite.

REFLECTIONS.

1. The pleasing description here given us of the temper and conduct of the first professors of the gospel, is well calculated to strengthen our faith in its divine origin. They appear to be men of unfeigned piety; for when threatened with danger, instead of fleeing from it, they address themselves to God in a prayer, which was the spontaneous effusion of a devout mind. Their piety too is not enthusiastic and rapturous, like that of some modern devotees; but it is perfectly calm and rational. From the character of the Deity, as the creator and governor of the universe,

they justly infer his ability to alter or suspend the course of nature. When they ask for aid to their courage, they look not for an answer to their petitions by an unaccountable and irresistible impulse upon their minds, but for a confirmation of their faith by natural and adequate means, by being enabled to work miracles. They are not men of interested characters, who had worldly emoluments in view in the profession which they assumed; for their first acquaintance with Christianity is accompanied with the sale of their lands and houses, and with a division of their property among the poor. Judge now whether such men are likely to deceive the world; whether those who have the justest apprehensions of the power and supremacy of the Deity would knowingly assert a falsehood in his name, and hereby expose themselves to his displeasure; whether men of pure and rational devotion are likely to be filled with imaginary notions of inspir ation; whether men of the most disinterested and the warmest benevolence could be disposed to propagate a pernicious lie, for the sake of gain; or whether the belief of such men in the events of the gospel history, and their declaring them with boldness in the midst of the strongest opposition and the greatest danger, does not furnish irresistible evidence of their truth?

2. Let us endeavour to imitate the temper of these first Christians, in esteeming the good things of this life of little value, when compared with spiritual be nefits. No sooner are they acquainted with the hopes of the gospel, and enjoy the honour of miraculous powers, than they learn to regard what they most esteemed before, and made the great object of their pursuit, as perfectly worthless, and are ready to dis tribute it among such of their Christian friends as had need of it. Such also was the temper of Paul, who esteemed all things but loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his lord; and such will be the temper of all who have imbibed the genuine spirit of Christianity. Let us, my brethren, examine ourselves by this test.

Acts v. 1-16.

This portion of the history contains an account of Ananias and Sapphira, who were miraculously punished with death, for attempting to practise a fraud upon the apostles, and the general relation of some other wonders performed by them.

1. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

2. And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

By appearing to dispose of his property, and to put the price into the hands of the apostles, for the benefit of the disciples, Ananias probably expected to obtain the same popularity as Barnabas had acquired by the same means; and, as those who had parted with all they had, must still have something for their subsistence, he intended to claim a share of the common fund. This share, joined to what he retained, might make his circumstances as good, if not better, than they were before. But as he intended to impose upon the apostles, men who possessed miraculous powers, it was a high affront to the Being by whom they were inspired; and as the fraud, when discovered, would bring great reproach upon the Christian name, and prove an essential detriment to an infant cause, it was punished with great severity.

3. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to,

rather, "to deceive*," the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

4. While it remained, was it not thy own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy own power?

Why hast thou been guilty of a falsehood to which there was so little temptation? For thy profession of the Christian religion did not oblige thee to sell thy land, nor, when sold, to lay the produce, or any part of it, at our feet? Here he remonstrates with him on the folly of his conduct; in the next words on the heinous impiety of it.

Why hast thou conceived, or, "determined," this thing in this thing in thy heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

That is, not to men only, but to God also; for he had lied to both: to men, because he had brought but a part of his property to the apostles, when he professed by his words, or his actions, or both, to bring the whole; and to God, because he was guilty of this falsehood before men who had given proofs of their being assisted by divine powers, and might therefore be well supposed, like the ancient prophets, to be acquainted with the hearts of men. By the devil and Satan, the writers of the New Testament sometimes mean the persecuting power, as when it is said, The devil goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; at other times, the supposed author of all moral evil; as when it is said, The devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray his master. In is sense Satan seems to be used in the present in

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