Cromwell’s Letter to General Fleetwood, Son-in-Law and Master of Ireland, 1652
The following letter is written by Oliver to his son-in-law, Lt. General Charles Fleetwood having replaced Lt. General Henry Ireton having been given the Order’s “poison cup” while in Jesuit-infested Ireland. Cromwell’s daughter, a widow due to the death of her husband, General Ireton, later married General Fleetwood, the present son-in-law now addressed so lovingly by his father-in-law and military commander, Oliver Cromwell. Behold the wisdom, purity and tone of this letter, a letter your Editor suggests no American or British military general presently has the faith or the heart to compose! May we learn from Oliver’s example as he writes in 1652:
“For the Right Honourable Lieutenant-General Fleetwood, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Ireland: These.
“I thank you for your loving Letter. The same hopes and desires, upon your planting into my Family, were much the same in me that you express in yours towards me. However, the dispensation of the Lord is, to have it otherwise for the present; and therein I desire to acquiesce;— not being out of hope that it may lie in His good pleasure, in His time, to give us the mutual comfort of our relation: the want whereof He is able abundantly to supply by His own presence; which indeed makes-up all defects, and is the comfort of all our comforts and enjoyments.
“Salute your dear Wife from me. Bid her beware of a bondage spirit. Fear is the natural issue of such a spirit;— the antidote is Love. The voice of Fear is: If I had done this; if I had avoided that, how well it had been with me!— I know this hath been her vain reasoning: ‘poor Biddy!’
“Love argueth in this wise: What a Christ have I; what a Father in and through Him! What a Name hath my Father: Merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth; forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin. What a Nature hath my Father; He is LOVE;— Free in it, unchangeable, infinite! What a Covenant between Him and Christ,— for all the Seed, for every one: wherein He undertakes all, and the poor Soul nothing. The new Covenant is Grace,— to or upon the Soul; to which it, ‘the Soul,’ is passive and receptive: I’ll do away their sins; I’ll write my Law, &c.; I’ll put it in their hearts: they shall never depart from me, &c.
“This commends the Love of God: it’s Christ dying for men without strength, for men whilst sinners, whilst enemies. And shall we seek for the root of our comforts within us,— What God hath done, what He is to us in Christ, is the root of our comfort: in this stability; in us is weakness. Acts of obedience are not perfect, and therefore yield not perfect Grace. Faith, as an act, yields it not; but ‘only’ as it carries us into Him, who is our perfect rest and peace; in whom we are accounted of, and received by, the Father, —even as Christ Himself. This is our high calling. Rest we here, and here only.
“Commend me to Harry Cromwell: I pray for him. That he may thrive, and improve in the knowledge and love of Christ. Commend me to all the Officers. My prayers indeed are daily for them. Wish them to beware of bitterness of spirit; and of all things uncomely for the Gospel. The Lord give you abundance of wisdom, and faith and patience. Take heed also of your natural inclination to compliance.
“Pray for me. I commit you to the Lord; and rest, your loving father,
Thomas Carlyle, Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches: With Elucidations, (London: Chapman & Hall, Ltd., 1889), Vol. III of V, pp. 189-191.
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