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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Farewell of a Victim

By Letters of the Quakers

[New England Judged. 1661.]

Letter from William Leddra Written to His Friends on the Day before His Execution, in 1661.

MOST DEAR AND INWARDLY BELOVED: The sweet influences of the Morning-Star, like a flood distilling into my innocent habitation, hath so filled me with the joy of the Lord in the beauty of holiness, that my spirit is as if it did not inhabit a tabernacle of clay, but is wholly swallowed up in the bosom of eternity, from whence it had its being.

Alas, alas! What can the wrath and spirit of man, that lusteth to envy, aggravated by the heat and strength of the king of the locusts, which came out of the pit, do unto one that is hid in the secret places of the Almighty? or unto them that are gathered under the healing wings of the Prince of peace? under whose armor of light they shall be able to stand in the day of trial, having on the breastplate of righteousness and the sword of the Spirit, which is their weapon of war against spiritual wickedness, principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, both within and without! Oh, my beloved! I have waited as a dove at the windows of the ark, and have stood still in that watch, which the Master (without whom I could do nothing) did at his coming reward with fulness of his love, wherein my heart did rejoice, that I might in the love and life of God speak a few words to you sealed with the spirit of promise, that the taste thereof might be a savor of life to your life, and a testimony in you of my innocent death. And if I had been altogether silent, and the Lord had not opened my mouth unto you, yet He would have opened your hearts, and there have sealed my innocency with the streams of life, by which we are all baptized into that body which is in God, with whom, and in whose presence there is life; in which, as you abide, you stand upon the pillar and ground of truth. For, the life being the truth and the way, go not one step without it, lest you should compass a mountain in the wilderness; for, unto every thing there is a season…. Fear not what they can do unto you; greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world; for He will clothe you with humility, and in the power of his meekness you shall reign over all the rage of your enemies in the favor of God; wherein, as you stand in faith, ye are the salt of the earth; for, many seeing your good works, may glorify God in the day of their visitation.

Take heed of receiving that which you saw not in the light, lest you give ear to the enemy. Bring all things to the light, that they may be proved, whether they be wrought in God; the love of the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, are without the light, in the world; therefore possess your vessels in all sanctification and honor, and let your eye look at the mark. He that hath called you is holy; and if there be an eye that offends, pluck it out, and cast it from you. Let not a temptation take hold, for if you do, it will keep from the favor of God, and that will be a sad state; for, without grace possessed, there is no assurance of salvation. By grace you are saved; and the witnessing of it is sufficient for you, to which I commend you all, my dear friends, and in it remain,

Your brother,
BOSTON gaol, the 13th of the First Month, 1660/61.