August 16: Never Know When Something May Turn Up

Pay Attention!

A bit astray from anything Presbyterian, but this is an interesting story that I had noted in an old issue of Christianity Today [original series, 1930-1949]. Adolf von Harnack was a noted Lutheran theologian and church historian [1851-1930]; not one to emulate in his theology, but an interesting fellow, nonetheless.


The library of the great German theologian, Professor Dr. Adolf von Harnack has been bought by the Prussian Ministry for Public Worship and divided between the National Library and the theological faculty of the University of Berlin. Amongst the treasures of this collection is a very costly edition of the works of St. Augustine on parchment, which came into the possession of Professor Harnack in a strange manner. He was one day buying oranges in the market-place of Messina in Italy when his attention was attracted by the paper in which the fruit-seller packed his wares. A brief examination convinced him that the parchment belonged to a very rare edition of St. Augustine’s works. He bought up all the packing paper and as it happened that von Harnack was the first customer for whom the paper was used, he came into the possession of the complete edition.

[excerpted from Christianity Today, 3.8 (December 1932): 24.]

Lesson learned: Get to the market early! Or, on a more obviously spiritual note, I am strongly convinced that the Lord expects us to watch daily to see His hand at work, to see His blessings as they transpire, to see how He convicts us of sin and brings us to repentance, to watch carefully to see His every provision, and most importantly, to live in continual praise to our God for all that He does for us.


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