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TO _______ _______

IT is of the infinite mercy and compassion of the Lord, that his pure love visiteth any of us; and it is by the preservation <468> thereof alone, that we stand. If He leave us at any time, but one moment, what are we? and who is there that provoketh Him not to depart? Let him throw the first stone at him that falls.

In the truth itself, in the living power and virtue, there is no offence; but that part which is not perfectly redeemed, hath still matter for the temptation to work upon, and may be taken in the snare. Let him that stands, take heed lest he fall; and in the bowels of pity, mourn over and wait for the restoring of him that is fallen. That which is so apt to be offended, is the same with that which falls. Oh! do not reason in the high-mindedness, against any that turn aside from the pure Guide; but fear, lest the unbelieving and fleshly-wise part get up in thee also. Oh know the weakness of the creature in the withdrawings of the life! and the strength of the enemy in that hour! and the free grace and mercy which alone can preserve! and thou wilt rather wonder that any stand, than that some fall.

When the pure springs of life open in the heart, immediately the enemy watcheth his opportunity to get entrance; and many times finds entrance soon after -- the soul little fearing or suspecting him, having lately felt such mighty, unconquerable strength; and yet, how often then doth he get in, and smite the life down to the ground! and what may he not do with the creature, unless the Lord graciously help!

Oh! great is the mystery of godliness, the way of life narrow, the travel to the land of rest long, hard, and sharp; it is easy miscarrying, it is easy stepping aside at any time; it is easy losing the Lord's glorious presence; unless the defence about it, by his Almighty arm, be kept up. There is a time for the Lord's taking down the fence from his own vineyard, because of transgression, and then the wild boar may easily break in. Ah! who tastes not of this in some measure? and what hinders, that he taste not of it in a greater measure?

Ah! turn in from the fleshly wisdom and reasonings, unto the pure river of life itself; and wait there, to have that judged which hath taken offence; lest, if it grow stronger in thee, it draw thee from the life, which alone is able to preserve thee; and so thou also fall.

This is in dear love to thee: retire from that part which <469> looketh out, and feel the inward virtue of that which can restore and preserve thee.

I. P.