SELLING THE SOUL FOR HALF-A-CROWN.
IT is astonishing for how little a man will sell his soul. I remember an anecdote, I believe it is true, I had almost said I hope it is. A minister, going across some fields, met a countryman, and said to him, “Well, friend, it is a most delightful day.” “Yes, sir, it is.” And having spoken to him about the beauties of the scenery, and so forth, he said, “How thankful we ought to be for our mercies! I hope you never come out without praying.” “Pray, sir!” said he, “why, I never pray; I have got nothing to pray for.” “What a strange man!” said the minister; “don’t your wife pray?” “If she likes.” “Don’t your children pray?” “If they like, they do.” “Well, you mean to say you do not pray,” said the minister (as I think, not very rightly; no doubt he saw that the man was superstitious); “now, I will give you half-acrown if you will promise me not to pray as long as you live.” “Very well,” said the man, “I don’t see what I have got to pray for;” and he took the half-crown. When he went home the thought struck him, “What have I done?” And something said to him,” Well, John, you will die soon, and you will want to pray then; you will have to stand before your Judge, and it will be a sad thing not to have prayed.” Thoughts of this kind came over him, and he felt dreadfully miserable: and the more he thought, the more miserable he felt. His wife asked him what was the matter; he could hardly tell her for some time, and at last he confessed he had taken half-a-crown never to pray again, and that was preying on his mind. The poor ignorant soul thought it was the evil one that had appeared to him. “Ay, John,” said she, “sure enough it was the devil, and you have sold your soul to him for that half-crown.” The poor creature could not work for several days, and he became perfectly miserable, from the conviction that he had sold himself to the evil one. However, the minister knew what he was about, and there was a barn close by, and he was going to preach there. He guessed the man would be there to ease his terror of mind, and sure enough he was there one Sabbath evening, and he heard the same man who gave him the halfcrown take for his text these words: “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” “Ay,” said he, “what will it profit a man who sold his soul for half-a-crown?” Up gets the man, crying out, “Sir, take it back! take it back!” “Why,” said the minister, “You want the half-crown, and you said you did not need to pray.” “But, sir,” he said, “I must pray; if I do not pray, I am lost;” and after some testing by parleying, the half-crown was returned, and the man was on his knees, praying to God. And it came to pass that that very circumstance was the means of saving his soul, and making him a changed man.