And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. . . . For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4.32, 34).
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 simply and faithfully bring forth their own; we invent a thousand subtle 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 (Calvin, Commentaries, Baker: Vol XVIII, “Acts of the Apostles,” 192-93).
Five hundred years later, Calvin would regret our bowels have yet to be loosened.