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letter, or whoever the writer of the letter might be, it was an ugly, disagreeable epistle, or it would not have touched Leonard Grey to the quick as it did. And if you, reader, have ever had your choler stirred by an unkind and unjust, a hasty and ungenerous letter from either friend or foe, as very likely you have, you will know how to sympathize with him.
“ Well, Lucy, what am I to do ?” said Leonard, presently, when the first outbreak of his wrath was over. .“ Spread it before the Lord,” said Lucy, again. “Remember David's counsel, Cease from anger, and forsake wrath. Fret not thyself in anywise to do evil.' Spread the letter before the Lord, as Hezekiah spread the threatening letter of Sennacherib the Assyrian."*
Leonard understood his sister now; but his mind was still in a ferment. He was writhing under the insult received. He answered more mildly, however.
“ I dare say you are right, Lucy; that is to say, looking at it only from one point of view. But the fact is, the letter must be answered ; and it resolves itself, after all, into a matter of business—disagreeable enough; but it is business, and it must be answered in a business way.”
" And you think that God does not understand business, Leonard : is that what you are thinking ?” asked Lucy, quietly.
“Lucy! what a strange question to ask !” exclaimed Leonard, turning quickly round upon his sister.
« Is the question stranger than the thought, Leonard ?"
“I do not say that it is, Lucy; but--" Leonard Grey did not get any further, for he knew that his sister was right. Yet, like some other professing Christians, he had never sufficiently recognised the fact that his heavenly Father really concerned himself about his “ mean affairs.” He, as we, knew very well where it is written, “ In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths;" and again, “ Casting all your care upon him ; for he careth for you." But it is likely he had not realized the full meaning of these encouragements. At any rate, his practice was defective if his faith was sound : no wonder, then, that in time of petty trials his patience failed him.
So Leonard passed that day with his mind unhinged, and his temper soured. He could not help thinking a good deal of the insult and injury conveyed in that unhappy
* See 2 Kings xviii.
letter; and the more he thought of them the deeper they seemed, as was but natural. • He answered the letter too—and he thought he had answered it well-with angry dignity, but in a tone of defiance which clearly proved, or was intended to prove, that he did not fear his adversary.
Nevertheless, he was not satisfied. His sister's words rang in his ears, or at any rate, fastened themselves on his memory, “ Spread it before the Lord, Leonard ; spread it before the Lord.” So pertinaciously did they adhere there that he could not shake them off; and the more he thought of them, the more wise and reasonable did the advice seem. “ Am I a Christian ?”—so he argued, later in the day; " and shall I neglect what is obviously a Christian's privilege ? Not that it will make any difference-how can it?
-no difference, that is, to the steps I shall have to take about this letter, or to my reply to it. But it may calm my mind, and-yes, Lucy is right; and I will ‘spread it before the Lord.”
So Leonard Grey went into his “ closet," and shut the door, and prayed to his Father, who seeth in secret. How long he prayed, or what words he used is not of so much consequence as that he prayed “ with the spirit and with. understanding."
Leonard Grey looked at the unfriendly letter again. His opinion of it was not altered : if possible, it seemed blacker and more malignant than ever." I would not have written such a letter," he thought, “ for any amount of advantage I could gain by it; and I pity the man who wrote it." Then he glanced at his reply; and a blush mounted to his cheeks. “ This will never do," he said within himself; and he tore it into fragments.
It was almost post-time, and there was not time to compose another reply. “I must write something, however," thought Leonard; and he sat down and wrote,
- Sir,”—(he could not write “ dear sir,")/"Sir, I received your letter to-day; and I have spread it before the Lord.'
“I am, sir, yours respectfully,
“ LEONARD GREY.” We may follow this short note to the writer of the unfriendly letter.
«. Spread it before the Lord! What does Grey mean by sending such an answer as this ?” he said, as he turned it over and over to make sure that nothing else was written. “He has spread it before the Lord, has he?" he continued, when he could find nothing else. “A pretty sort of answer to give to my letter. Is the man making a fool of me? I'll let him know that I am not to be treated in this way.”
To all appearance, certainly, Leonard Grey had not improved his position with his unfriendly correspondent by his reply.
Nevertheless, when this correspondent sat down to pen a rejoinder, he could not get on. He wrote about half a page, and then he paused.
« Grey will be spreading this before the Lord, I suppose,” said he ; and he took another sheet. He tried to write again, but with no better success. Then he took another sheet, and another : but frame his words as he might, he could not please himself. The truth is, his conscience began to be touched; and this appeal to the highest court of all gave him more uneasiness than he liked to acknowledge even to himself. If the dispute between himself and Leonard Grey had to be referred to a court of honour, or a court of common pleas, or a court of queen's bench, or a court of chancery, he would have fought out the battle, inch by inch, and his natural obstinacy and self-importance would have carried him through the controversy, whether he were in the right or in the wrong. But to have it taken into the high court of heaven, and before the Judge of all-Sounceremoniously too, and without any preliminary notice! He was not prepared for this. He threw his pen aside, and tore up his unfinished sheet. He would have nothing more to do with a man who could spread his letter before the Lord, like that. He began to be half afraid of him.
A good many weeks passed away, and Leonard Grey began to wonder.
* I have not heard a word more from Mr. E-," said he, one day, to his sister.
“ Nor written to him about that business?"
"No; for when I came to look at it again there was nothing for me to write about. It was for him to follow up his letter, and nothing I could have written would
have made any difference; so I thought the wisest plan was for me to be silent.”
- You did not think so at first,” said Lucy.
"Well, no, I was too angry; but after I followed your advice and spread his letter before the Lord, it came to me that there was nothing else for me to do. Was I right?”
“I suppose so, Leonard; I believe so. But are you quite sure that Mr. E- is not following up his letter, as you say?"
« Not quite sure; but yet if he had been I should have heard of it. As I have not, I am very well content to wait.”
Leonard Grey had not long to wait. That same evening there was a knock at his door, and Mr. E- was admitted.
“I wrote an ugly letter to you some time ago, Mr. Grey," he said.
Leonard could not deny this, so he said nothing.
" And you sent me a very proper answer. I am come to thank you for it.”
“I am glad you think it so,” said Leonard.
“ I did not think so at first : it put me out more than I care to acknowledge now," continued Mr. E—; “ but it was a right and proper answer. And I am come to tell you now that I was in the wrong altogether. Will you shake hands with me over it ?” He held out his hand as he spoke, and Leonard took it.
“I have something else to say to you,” Mr. E- went on; and his voice trembled a little,-" I have been ill since I wrote to you”—Leonard Grey noticed now that his visitor looked weak and pallid—“and when I was at the worst, your letter kept haunting me. You wrote that you had spread' my letter before the Lord;' and I thought how all my thoughts, and words, and deeds had been spread before him all my life long. I thought of this, Mr. Grey, till I could bear the thought no longer.”
" And then ”
" And then I spread my own unhappy case before the Lord. I said, · Enter not into judgment with me, O Lord; for I have sinned; I have sinned !""
" And then, Mr. E— ?" said Leonard, with a beaming, eager, anxious smile-
* And then, sir, the blessed truth was brought home to my soul, as I hope and believe, If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,
and if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' And now, Mr. Grey, I ask you once more to forgive me for writing that unfriendly and unjust letter."
We need not write down Leonard Grey's reply.
“HE SAVED MY LIFE.” The grand long waves were rolling in from the great deep, and losing themselves in the shining, serpentine caverns of the west of Cornwall. The stranger had rejoiced in those temples, hewn out by nature in the solid rock, whose polish and bright colouring rival man's best works of art. He had climbed the Asparagus Island, where only that plant grows wild in our country. He had heard the booming blast of the Bellows Rock, and had placed his hand to test the wondrous power of suction in the withdrawing breath of the ocean through that small chimney-like hole in the cliff. He had admired and enjoyed, and had been led about carefully and cannily in all the wild climbing by an old man, who looked like a part and parcel of the scene so singular and so grotesque.
The parting money was paid, and the bearty “ Good evening, sir, and thankee,” was spoken, when an afterthought occurred to the traveller-"This old man has a soul; is it safe ?” So, returning down the steep path which leads from the heath above this most beautiful of coves, he began, as best he could, to link on the unseen and eternal to the seen and temporal.
"I hope, friend, you do not forget who made all these wonderful things—the caves and rocks you have been showing to me."
“No, sir; I hope not.”
“ And do you remember it was the same who was nailed upon the cross for us? for the Bible says of Christ Jesus, • He made all things by the word of his power.”
“I mind it, sir.”
“ I do indeed, sir; and I think you'll say I ought to, when I tell you everything. He is my best friend; he saved my life.”
“ I trust he has."