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Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? St. Matthew xviii. 21.

What liberty so glad and gay,

As where the mountain boy,

Reckless of regions far away,

A prisoner lives in joy?

The dreary sounds of crowded earth,

The cries of camp or town,

Never untun’d his lonely mirth,

Nor drew his visions down.

The snow-clad peaks of rosy light

That meet his morning view,

The thwarting cliffs that bound his sight,

They bound his fancy too.

Two ways alone his roving eye

For aye may onward go,

Or in the azure deep on high,

Or darksome mere below.

O blest restraint! more blessed range!

Too soon the happy child

His nook of homely thought will change

For life’s seducing wild:

Too soon his alter’d day-dreams show

This earth a boundless space,

With sun-bright pleasures to and fro

Sporting in joyous race:

While of his narrowing heart each year,

Heaven less and less will fill,

Less keenly, thorough his grosser ear,

The tones of mercy thrill.

It must be so: else wherefore falls

The Saviour’s voice unheard,

While from His pard’ning Cross He calls,

“O spare as I have spar’d?”

By our own niggard rule we try

The hope to suppliants given!

We mete out love, as if our eye

Saw to the end of Heaven.

Yes, ransom’d sinner! wouldst thou know

How often to forgive,

How dearly to embrace thy foe,

Look where thou hop’st to live; —

When thou hast told those isles of light,

And fancied all beyond,

Whatever owns, in depth or height,

Creation’s wondrous bond;

Then in their solemn pageant learn

Sweet mercy’s praise to see:

Their Lord resign’d them all, to earn

The bliss of pardoning thee.

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