IN the picture on this page, we see a merchantman and three sailors-- What is the sailor taking from his box?  See, it is a pearl. How eager the merchant seems to be to obtain it. See him holding out with both hands two bags of gold in exchange for it.  Two bags of gold for one pearl? 

Yes; for pearls are very costly.

Perhaps the question arises.  Where does the pearl come from? Down, down, beneath the waters. It is born in the bosom of an oyster; a dark and obscure home but worth often has such homes; and worth, like pearls, is sought for, and comes to light, and finds its proper value by and by. 

The island of Ceylon is famous for its pearl fisheries. Let us visit one. There we find boats of from ten to fifteen tons burden, rigged with only one mast and sail, and with a crew of thirteen men and ten divers. Each boat has five diving stones, weighing from fifteen to twenty-five pounds. A kind of scaffolding is formed of oars and other pieces of wood, on each side of the boat, from which the diving tackle is hung; three stones on one side and two on the other. The diver strips off his clothes, jumps into the water, takes hold of the rope which supports a stone, and puts one foot into a loop or stirrup on the top of the stone. After getting his balance, a basket hanging from a rope, is thrown to him, and in this he puts his other foot. Feeling himself ready, he grasps the rope in one hand and his nose with the other, to prevent the water from rushing in, and the ropes are let off. Down, down he sinks to the dark oyster bed below. On touching the bottom, he takes his foot from the stone, which is drawn up for the next diver. Then throwing himself as much as possible on his face, he scrambles up the oysters; and if it is a rich bed, and he is expert, he can gather a hundred and fifty in about a minute and a half, which is as long as he can stay under water. He jerks the rope, and he and his basket are hauled up. There are two divers to each stone, and they go down one after the other, one resting while the other is plunging; and so they work on for six hours together.

On the return of the boats to the shore at night, the oysters are thrown into “paved" pens, where they stay ten days to dry and rot. The shells are then broken, and those, which have pearls cleaving to them are handed to the clippers, who wrench the pearls off with pincers.

Pearls have always been favorite ornaments; and some have been of enormous value. We read that Queen Cleopatra had pearl earrings worth more than eight hundred thousand dollars.

Such facts throw light on the words of our Lord: "The kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it;" showing that the salvation of the soul, which is found in the gospel of Christ, and which may well be called the "pearl of great price," is of more value than every thing else, and worth the cost of all we have in order to get possession of it.