Buy the Truth

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
IT was a glorious day in the early spring of 18—, and the warm sun shone brightly upon the smiling faces and gay dresses of the crowd of men, women and children who thronged the streets of the old Portuguese town of Figueira da Foz. A festival was being held in honor of one of the many saints to whom Roman Catholics pay so much homage, so shops and schools were closed, as the day was a general holiday.
Two schoolboys had been for some time walking together. When they got outside the town, the elder of the two drew his companion into a shady nook, whispering as he did so, "Alfredo, I have something to show thee; see!" at the same time drawing a small thin book in paper covers from his pocket. Alfredo's love of reading was well known among his schoolfellows, and his companion noticed, well pleased, the look of delight that came into his face as he turned the pages of THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW.
To Alfredo it seemed indeed a treasure not to be lightly parted with. "Where didst thou get it, Pierre?" Alfredo asked after some time spent in a still further examination of the book.
“At the fair," replied Pierre; "I won it in a halfpenny raffle."
“Wilt thou sell it?" Alfredo asked eagerly.
“I care not to do so," Pierre replied in a tone of assumed indifference. "What hast thou to offer?”
Alfredo drew a small silver coin from his pocket, but Pierre shook his head. A pocket-knife (one of a schoolboy's greatest treasures) was next offered and refused. Alfredo felt that to give up the book would be a real trial, for again and again, as he turned its pages, his eye had rested upon the words "Jesus Christ," and the volume was, he felt sure, unlike any he had ever seen. He had read stories and legends of Romish saints, but this book would tell him of Christ, he must make one more attempt to secure it.
Drawing a fine, white handkerchief from his pocket, he offered it in exchange for the gospel. The offer was accepted, and the book changed owners, and the boys parted, each well pleased with his bargain. Carefully placing the book in his pocket, Alfredo crossed a field, and turned into a quiet footpath. He did not stop till he reached a lonely spot, then throwing himself down upon the grass, beneath the shade of a large mulberry-tree, he began to read, and soon became so absorbed in the book that time and place were forgotten as he read on and on the wondrous, and to him new story of the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He did not close the book till he came to the last verse of the last chapter, and then, surprised at the lateness of the hour, started up and hastened to his home.
From that day the book was his constant companion. The more he read, the better he loved it. Taught by the Holy Spirit, the Savior's words, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:2828Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)), seemed to him a living voice, full of compassion and tenderness, calling him, and though he did not then see God's way of salvation quite clearly, he was reaching towards the light. He soon longed to share with others the glad tidings of the gospel, so daily, whilst his schoolfellows were at play, Alfredo would make his way to the riverside, where the village women assembled to wash their clothes, and while they washed, Alfredo, sitting upon a stone, would read to them, and soon several began to listen, and to love the book too. And so things went on for some weeks, till one day Father Andre, the parish priest, came along, and finding how the boy was employed, took away the gospel, reproved him sharply for reading it, and threatened that if he was ever found reading such a book again he should be turned out of the true church.
Alfredo felt the loss of his treasured book keenly, but made up his mind that as soon as possible he would buy another. He had in some way found out that the gospel was part of a much larger book, called "The Bible," and toward the purchase of a Bible every coin, however small, that he could earn was saved. Very slowly his store grew, but it did grow, and when he had almost the required sum, a colporteur passed through the village, and finding that Alfredo really longed for the word of God, gave him a copy in exchange for his savings.
How glad the boy was! How he loved the book, and pored over its pages! It was not long before he found peace in believing. He still lives, and loves to tell others of the One who sought and saved him.
Has the written word of God brought peace and joy to your soul?