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These passages, however, do not stand alone; and a careful consideration of the whole account given by S. Luke of the early Church in Jerusalem, shows conclusively that what he is here describing is not so much an institution as a temper and spirit. Most certainly the

. rights of private property were not superseded. Mary the mother of John Mark still retained her own house (Acts xii. 12); while the words of S. Peter to Ananias prove that no necessity was laid upon him to sell his property,“ Whilst it remained, did it not remain thine own ? and after it was sold, was it not in thy

Moreover, as will be shown below, there are various injunctions to liberality in almsgiving in the Apostolic Epistles which are incompatible with Communism, for where a strict system of this kind in practised, and the rights of property are superseded, personal almsgiving becomes an impossibility. There are no “rich” to be charged to be “ ready to give and glad to distribute.”

It may be added, that while there there is no trace elsewhere of any system of Communism adopted by the Church, yet expressions are used by later writers 1 which afford striking parallels to those employed by S. Luke, and show us that no violence is done to his words if they are understood of the eager, enthusiastic spirit of love which so prevailed among the early Christians as to lead them to regard whatever they possessed as at the disposal of their brethren; and not of any formal or systematic plan of Communism.1

1 Thus in the Alôaxń Tŵr 86deka årootblw we read : “If thou have in thine hands, thou shalt give for ransom of thy sins. Thou shalt not hesitate to give, neither shalt thou grudge when thou givest: for thou shalt know who is the recompenser of the reward. Thou shalt not turn aside from him that needeth, but shalt share all things with thy brother, and shalt not say that they are thine oun ; for if ye are fellow-sharers in that which is imperishable, how much more in the things that are perishable," c. iv. Tertullian also writes as follows: “One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us, but our wives,” Apol. xxxix.

II. The Duty of Almsgiving. Every man ought of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.

That almsgiving is a Christian duty scarcely needs formal proof. It is sufficient to refer to

(1) Our Lord's words in the Sermon on the Mount, where He does not command it, but rather takes for granted that His followers will practise it, and gives directions concerning the manner of doing it, as He does also with regard to the two other duties of prayer and fasting (S. Matthew vi. 1 seq.; cf. also S. Luke xii. 33).

(2) The directions concerning it in the Apostolic Epistles, e.g. “Charge them that are rich in this present world. that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed,” 1 Tim. vi. 17-19.

On the position of some modern Communists, who affirm that Communism was the natural outcome of the Law of Equality implied in Christ's teaching, and maintain that “Jesus Christ Himself not only proclaimed, preached, and prescribed Communism as a consequence of fraternity, but practised it with His Apostles” (Cabet, Voyage en Icarie, p. 567); see Kaufmann's Socialism and Communism, c. i. ; and on the relation between Religion and Socialism, see Flint's Socialism, c. xi.

2 The Second Book of the Homilies contains a plain Homily on the subject of “almsdeeds and mercifulness towards the poor and needy," in which the Scriptural directions on the subject from the Old Testament (including the Apocrypha), as well as from the New, are collected to gether, p. 406 (S.P.C.K.).

“ To do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased,” Heb. xiii. 16.

Cf. also Rom. xii. 13; 1 Cor. xvi. 2; 2 Cor. ix. 7; 1 John ü. 17, etc.


De jurejurando. Quemadmodum juramentum vanum et temerarium a Domino nostro Jesu Christo, et Apostolo ejus Jacobo Christianis hominibus interdictum esse fatemur: ita Christianam religionem minime prohibere censemus, quin jubente Magistratu, in causa fidei et charitatis, jurare liceat, modo id fiat juxta Prophetæ doctrinam, in justitia, in judicio, et veritate.

Of a Christian man's oath.
As we confess that vain and rash
swearing is forbidden Christian
men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and
James His Apostle : so we judge
that Christian religion doth not
prohibit, but a man may swear
when the Magistrate requireth, in
a cause of faith and charity, so it
be done according to the prophet's
teaching, in justice, judgment, and

LIKE the one just considered, this Article, which has remained without change since 1553, is aimed against a tenet of the Anabaptists, which is also condemned in the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum.

“ Præterea nec juramentorum Anabaptistæ legitimum relinquunt usum, in quo contra Scripturarum sententiam et veteris Testamenti patrum exempla, Pauli etiam apostoli, imo Christi, imo Dei Patris procedunt; quorum juramenta sæpe sunt in sacris literis repetita," etc.

There are two passages of the New Testament which have appeared to others besides the Anabaptists to forbid the taking of an oath in any case. They are (a) our Lord's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, and (6) the very similar words of S. James.

1 De Hæres. c. 15. De juramentis et participatione dominic Cænde, and cf. the quotations given above under Art. XXXVII. p. 761.

? Not only the Quakers of later days, but some among the Christian Fathers took this view,


(a) S. Matt. v. 33–37: “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all ; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one.

(6) S. James v. 12: "Above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay (or, let yours be the yea, yea, and the nay, nay,' R.V. marg.); that ye fall not under judgment.” ;

” These are evidently the passages to which the Article alludes, when it says that we confess that vain and rash_swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James His Apostle. And it is tolerably clear that in neither passage is the formal tendering of oaths in a law court under consideration. Such a solemn act is referred to in the Epistle to the Hebrews in terms which conclusively indicate that the writer of the Epistle saw nothing wrong in it. “Men swear by the greater: and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation” (Heb. vi. 16). So S. Paul, several times in the course of his Epistles, makes a solemn appeal to God, which is a form of oath (2 Cor. i. 23, xi. 10, 31, xii. 19; Gal. i. 20; Phil. i. 8), and in one instance uses the expression νη την υμετέραν καύχησιν, 1 Cor. xv. 31. And there are references to God as swearing by Himself, which it would be difficult to reconcile with the idea that there is anything essentially wrong in a solemn asseveration or oath, in order to gain credence for a statement (Heb. iii. 11, vi. 16, 17). But,

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