IN one of the deep dells of the Black Forest a band of brigands were dividing their spoil, the proceeds of the preceding night's robbery. According to their custom the stolen articles were being put up for auction among themselves. The last article held up for sale was found to be a New Testament. The man who acted as auctioneer introduced this "article" with some blasphemous remarks, which made the cavern resound with laughter. One of the company suggested jokingly that a chapter should be read for their edification. This being unanimously applauded, the "auctioneer" turned up a page at random, and began reading in a voice of mock devotion, much to the amusement of the company.
It was not observed, however, that one of their number had become suddenly silent, and sat clasping his hands on his knees, as if in deep thought. He was a middle-aged man, was one of the oldest members of the gang, and had long been a leader in lawlessness and crime. The words, read in mockery though they were, had reached his heart. The passage of Scripture taken by the "auctioneer" had awakened some wonderful memories in the heart of the poor wanderer. He had heard that passage of God's Word before. Thirty years had passed since then. He was in the old homestead, a young man just entering into life. The influences were favorable. His parents feared God, and sought to lead him in the paths of righteousness, and set before him a Christian example. Yet it seemed as if all their efforts were to be fruitless. But there is a word in God's Book, which says, "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days." (Ecclesiastes 11:1), and truly it was "many days" ere the words were "found" again.
The young man fell upon evil courses, greatly to the grief of those who were watching for his soul. At length he committed a crime, which made it imperative that he should flee without delay if he was to evade the hands of the police. It was morning, and his father, according to his usual custom, read a passage of Scripture, and commended the family to God in prayer. That day the young man fled from the parental dwelling, never to return again. And now in the brigand's cave in the Black Forest the whole scene of that bygone day rose up vividly before his imagination-the happy family circle, the reading of the Word of the Living God, and the voice of prayer.
Since leaving home he had never opened a Bible, never offered a prayer, or heard a single word that reminded him of God or eternity. But now a father and a mother's counsel came rushing back to his memory. The long-forgotten passage of Scripture was carried with awakening power to his soul.
So absorbed was he in these hallowed recollections that he forgot all around him until awakened by a rude tap on the shoulder, accompanied by the question, "Now, old dreamer what will you give for that old Book? You need it more than any of us, for you are undoubtedly the biggest sinner under the firmament." " So I am," he answered, "give me that Book; I will pay its full price."
The next day the brigands dispersed throughout the neighborhood to turn their bargains into money. But the one that bought the Testament repaired to a lonely place, where he spent the whole day and night in the agonies of remorse. The Word of God revealed to him a Saviour, Jesus; and the message of peace and reconciliation was brought home to his heart. The next morning he entered a village, he told a servant of Christ his whole life's story, and then gave himself up to the hands of justice. This proof of his repentance saved his life, for his comrades were all captured and put to death. After an imprisonment of seven years he was set free on account of exemplary conduct. A Christian nobleman took him into his service, and he proved a blessing to his master's household till he died in peace, praising Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom he confessed himself to be the chief.
By W. Shaw