Sunday, January 11, 2009

Love's Farewell

Christopher Love, not a Westminster Divine, but a godly Presbyterian Puritan minister, was put to death on charges of treason, from which he vindicated himself, under Oliver Cromwell's authority. While in prison waiting for his execution, he and his wife Mary corresponded and were able to express their affection to one other by letter. One letter from her dated July 14, 1651 reads thus (Source: Don Kistler, A Spectacle Unto God: The Life and Death of Christopher Love, pp. 1-3):

Before I write a word further, I beseech thee think not that it is thy wife but a friend now that writes to thee. I hope thou hast freely given up thy wife and children to God, who hath said in Jeremiah 49:11, "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widow trust in me." Thy Maker will be my husband, and a Father to thy children. O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father's hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ.

I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory. Thou leavest but children, brothers, and sisters to go to the Lord Jesus, thy eldest Brother. Thou leavest friends on earth to go to the enjoyment of saints and angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect in glory. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.

My dear, I know God hath not only prepared glory for thee, and thee for it, but I am persuaded that He will sweeten the way for thee to come to the enjoyment of it. When thou art putting on thy clothes that morning, O think, "I am now putting on my wedding garments to go to be everlastingly married to my Redeemer."

When the messenger of death comes to thee, let him not seem dreadful to thee, but look on him as a messenger that brings thee tidings of eternal life. When thou goest up the scaffold, think (as thou saidst to me) that it is but thy fiery chariot to carry thee up to thy Father's house.

And when thou layest down thy precious head to receive thy Father's stroke, remember what thou saidst to me: Though thy head was severed from thy body, yet in a moment thy soul should be united to thy Head, the Lord Jesus, in heaven. And though it may seem something bitter, that by the hands of men we are parted a little sooner than otherwise we might have been, yet let us consider that it is the decree and will of our Father, and it will not be long ere we shall enjoy one another in heaven again.

Let us comfort one another with these sayings. Be comforted, my dear heart. It is but a little stroke and thou shalt be there where the weary shall be at rest and where the wicked shall cease from troubling. Remember that thou mayest eat thy dinner with bitter herbs, yet thou shalt have a sweet supper with Christ that night. My dear, by what I write unto thee, I do not hereby undertake to teach thee; for these comforts I have received from the Lord by thee. I will write no more, nor trouble thee any further, but commit thee into the arms of God with whom ere long thee and I shall be.

Farewell, my dear. I shall never see thy face more till we both behold the face of the Lord Jesus at that great day.

On the day of his death, Christopher wrote this to his wife:

My most gracious beloved,

I am now going from a prison to a palace! I have finished my work. I am now to receive my wages. I am going to heaven! Rejoice in my joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength. O, let it be yours also! Dear wife, farewell! I will call you wife no more! I shall see your face no more! Yet I am not much troubled; for now I am going to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom I shall be eternally married!

Your dying, yet most affectionate friend until death,
Christopher Love,
August 22, 1651, the day of my glorification!


  1. A beautiful account of a faithful servant of God, of a loving husband, and of a godly martyr for God's truth. May we all learn to suffer and die with such a faithful testimony. Thanks for sharing....Ginny

  2. This letter makes me cry each time I read it. Thank you for posting it. I love Christopher Love. :-)

  3. Thank you for sharing these letters. I cannot imagine being selfless enough, nor loving, to encourage a loved one's steadfastness were he dying. I think, instead, I would be full of self-pity. I hope that I will remember these words, and more, the reality of these words, should I ever be watching a loved one prepare to go to the Lord. Thank you, Andrew!