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Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine: and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now. St. John ii. 10.

The heart of childhood is all mirth:

We frolic to and fro

As free and blithe, as if on earth

Were no such thing as woe.

But if indeed with reckless faith

We trust the flattering voice,

Which whispers, “Take thy fill ere death,

Indulge thee and rejoice;”

Too surely, every setting day,

Some lost delight we mourn;

The flowers all die along our way

Till we, too, die forlorn.

Such is the world’s gay garish feast,

In her first charming bowl

Infusing all that fires the breast,

And cheats the unstable soul.

And still, as loud the revel swells,

The fever’d pulse beats higher,

Till the sear’d taste from foulest wells

Is fain to slake its fire.

Unlike the feast of heavenly love

Spread at the Saviour’s word

For souls that hear His call, and prove

Meet for His bridal board.

Why should we fear, youth’s draught of joy

If pure would sparkle less?

Why should the cup the sooner cloy,

Which God hath deign’d to bless?

For, is it Hope, that thrills so keen

Along each bounding vein,

Still whispering glorious things unseen? —

Faith makes the vision plain.

The world would kill her soon: but Faith

Her daring dreams will cherish,

Speeding her gaze o’er time and death

To realms where nought can perish.

Or is it Love, the dear delight

Of hearts that know no guile,

That all around see all things bright

With their own magic smile?

The silent joy that sinks so deep,

Of confidence and rest,

Lull’d in a father’s arms to sleep,

Clasp’d to a mother’s breast?

Who, but a Christian, through all life

That blessing may prolong?

Who, through the world’s sad day of strife,

Still chant his morning song?

Fathers may hate us or forsake,

God’s foundlings then are we:

Mother on child no pity take,2121Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Isaiah xlix. 15.

But we shall still have Thee.

We may look home, and seek in vain

A fond fraternal heart,

But Christ hath given His promise plain

To do a Brother’s part.

Nor shall dull age, as worldlings say,

The heavenward flame annoy:

The Saviour cannot pass away,

And with Him lives our joy.

Ever the richest, tenderest glow

Sets round the autumnal sun —

But there sight fails: no heart may know

The bliss when life is done.

Such is Thy banquet, dearest Lord;

O give us grace, to cast

Our lot with Thine, to trust Thy word,

And keep our best till last.

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