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“Love thanked the sheriff”


Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.

—Psalm 116:15

Christopher Love (1618–1651) was arrested on May 7, 1651* by Cromwell’s forces for his involvement in a plot to restore the monarchy under Charles II. Convicted of treason, he was sentenced to death by beheading.

In a moving address from the scaffold, Love answered the charges make against him and urged citizens of London to heed and love their godly ministers. Sheriff Tichburn granted him permission to pray. He prayed:

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Most Glorious and eternal Majesty, Thou art righteous and holy in all Thou dost to the sons of men, though Thou hast suffered men to condemn Thy servant, Thy servant will not condemn Thee. He justifies Thee though Thou cutest him off in the midst of his days and in the midst of his ministry, blessing Thy glorious name, that though he be taken away from the land of the living, yet he is not blotted out of the Book of the Living. . . .

O Thou blessed God, whom Thy creature hath served, who hath made Thee his hope and his confidence from his youth, forsake him not now while he is drawing near to Thee. Now he is in the valley of the shadow of death; Lord, be Thou life to him. Smile Thou upon him while men frown upon him. Lord, Thou hast settled this persuasion in his heart that as soon as ever the blow is given to divide his head from his body he shall be united to his Head in heaven. Blessed be God that Thy servant dies in these hopes.

We entreat Thee, O Lord, think upon Thy poor churches. O that England might live in Thy sight! And O that London might be a faithful city to Thee! That righteousness might be among them, that peace and plenty might be within her walls and prosperity within their habitations. Lord, heal the breaches of these nations; make England and Scotland as one staff in the Lords hand, that Ephraim may not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim, but that both mayfly upon the shoulders of the Philistines. O that men of the Protestant religion, engaged on the same cause and covenant, might not delight to spill each other’s blood, but might engage against the common adversaries of jour religion and liberty! God, show mercy to all that fear Thee. The Lord think upon our covenant-keeping brethren of the Kingdom of Scotland; keep them faithful to Thee, and let not them that have invaded them overspread their whole land. Prevent the shedding of more Christian blood if it seems good in Thine eyes. . . .

After the public prayer, Love thanked the sheriff, and said, “I go from a block to the bosom of my Savior.” Love called for the executioner and tipped him to encourage a beheading with one blow. He fell on his knees and said, “I lie down with a world of comfort as if I were to lie sown in my bed. My bed is but a short sleep, and this death is a long sleep where I shall rest in Abraham’s bosom and in the embraces of the Lord Jesus.” His last words, just before he put his head on the block, were, “Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.”

Meet the Puritans (Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 398–399.

* According to Wikipedia. The date given in Meet the Puritans, May 14, 1652, is obviously an error, since Love was executed in August of 1651.



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