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CHAPTER X.

THE MINISTERS STUDY.

"Instruction, admonition, comfort, peace,
Flow from his tongue. Oh, chief let comfort flow)
It is most wanted in this vale of tears."

Gbahame.

We will leave the happy party at "The Friars" to the unmolested possession of their new-found joy. Truly it was one in which a stranger could not intermeddle. It was for some days unmingled with any touch of bitterness, for joy has sometimes a purifying power, subduing and transforming, at least in semblance, much that is unlovely in the character; and Mrs. Thornton, charmed with her new-found treasures, saw nothing in them but causes of joy and gratitude.

In the meantime, the village, with its routine of little cares and little pleasures, went on its daily course, having, however, received an accession of gladness from the wealth of joy which had come into one household. We will now go to the Rectory, where we shall find Mr. Marsden sitting in his study, and looking over some letters which had arrived that morning.

It was his habit to remain at home until twelve o'clock every day, that his parishioners might know where to find him, should they wish to consult him upon any business, ternporal or spiritual. He was the general depositary of all their little cares and anxieties. Many of these it was in his power to remove, and those which he could not remove, he always contrived to lighten by his kindly sympathy, and by a skilful method which he possessed of turning round its fairest side to the view of the sufferer. Possessing thus the full confidence of his people, he had a most conscientious and sensitive view of the sacred character of the deposit, and it was the knowledge of this which emboldened them so often to come to him for counsel, and to show to him, without fear or reserve, their weaknesses and temptations. Not even to his wife, though she was in every respect a help meet for him, did he confide any portion of the knowledge thus obtained; but he kept a book in which he noted, from time to time, for his own guidance, any fresh development of character which came before him. One of his favourite mottoes was, "The proper study of mankind is man." "I am sure," he would say, "it is the most fitting study for a minister, for his field of work is exclusively the human heart. Other things may indeed be lawfully pursued, and to a certain extent should be, for all science is but the study of the works of God, and must enlarge and enlighten our view of all things; but to a minister such studies must ever be in subservience to his one great pursuit, the knowledge of the hearts of his people." Thus believing, and thus acting, increasing in the knowledge of his own heart, still more than in that of others, he had arrived at middle age,

with a feeling of love to his fellow-creatures deepened, not impaired by time; grieved, but not astonished at every fresh manifestation of selfishness and sin, and more firmly rooted in the conviction than ever, that nothing but the Almighty power of God could deal with an evil so deep-seated in the human heart as sin.

Scarcely a morning passed without some humble visitor passing under the study window, and receiving the kindly invitation. "Come in." And now, while he was sitting looking over his letters, he heard a tap at the door, and presently a poor woman entered.

"Oh, sir, I took the liberty of calling to say, that my husband and I have decided about Jane, and we won't troublo you to write any more, because we mean to send her to Mr. Churchill's. It is only twenty miles by the train, and the wages are good, and the girl likes it, and in these hard times it is our duty to do the best we can for our children." She spoke rather hurriedly, as though she

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