HERE is a man who is being weighed; but if you look close, you will see that the weights, which are being put in the scale do not seem to be the ordinary iron ones. No; it looks as if they were bags of gold. I can count four; and you see that, as the balance is almost reached, loose coins are being put in from an open bag. What does it all mean? You say, " It is a strange sight, truly; such a one as is not often witnessed."

 You know what a ransom is? A thing of value given to secure the release of a prisoner. In former times, when war was carried on differently from the way it is now, captives were often given a choice between being put to death, and getting a ransom paid to the conqueror in order to secure their being set at liberty. 

Even in more modern times this has been done in countries where there were brigands. These bold robbers would sometimes make prisoners of travelers, carry them off to hiding-places, and then send word to their friends that unless a certain amount of money was paid for their ransom they would be killed.

You may imagine how anxious such a prisoner would be to have the ransom paid, how he would beg and plead with his captors to give him and his friends time to arrange it, and how glad he would be when the ransom was paid and he set free.

Then there is another sort of ransom. 

In war times, men are often drafted into the army who do not want to serve as soldiers and risk their lives. If they cannot give a good reason why the government should let them off, there is only one way to get out of it that is, by furnishing a substitute. So they hunt up men, who, for a certain sum of money, are willing to take their places, and it is looked upon as all right by the government. 

In China this way of getting substitutes is used by rich criminals, who hire men to bear the punishment to which they have been condemned. Yes; sometimes a poor man will even, for a sum of money, suffer death in the place of one who can afford to pay him well for it.

In India it used to be believed that substitutes could be hired to bear a man's sins and suffer punishment for them in his stead. Thus it has come about that this very thing was done, and the picture shows one of the steps in such a transaction, which actually occurred more than twenty years ago in India.

The rajah of Mysore a native Hindoo prince was told by an astrologer that in two years he must die. When he heard this, he began to think he had better prepare for death. He thought of his great sins, and, knowing they would prevent his reaching Heaven unless they were taken away, he offered to pay liberally for substitutes. There came to him then a number of heathen priests, who declared that they would bear his sins and their punishment, but he must pay them his weight in gold. 

As the rajah was very rich and powerful, he agreed to their terms, and got into one side of a large scale, with all his robes and his sword, while the other side was filled with gold until it overbalanced him. This the substitutes took as their pay, and the rajah believed he was freed from all future responsibility for his sins.

It seems strange to us that any one should believe such a thing as this, for see how unfair it would be! Only a rich and powerful person could ever secure a substitute in this way. The poor and weak would all fail. Quite different is it with the salvation, which Christ offers. This is free. He was not paid, and cannot be paid, for enduring punishment in our stead; and so he offers us all poor and rich, low and high, ignorant and learned salvation freely. All we have to do is to believe what he has said, trust ourselves to him, and, asking his help, begin to live as we believe he would have us live. This is a God-like gift to men, and if we will only accept it with our whole hearts, we have the promise that God will carry on the good work in us; for it is written: "God commendeth his love toward US, in that, while we were yet sinners [that is, while we sinned and did not care],Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." 

S. S. Visitor.