62: An Epistle of William Leddra to Friends, Written by Him the Day Before He Was Put to Death at Boston

To the Society of the Little Flock of Christ: grace and peace be multiplied. 

Most dear and inwardly beloved, 

The sweet influence 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 reward [us] at his coming with fullness of 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 were 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 compass a mountain in the wilderness.

For unto every thing there is a season. As the flowing of the ocean doth fill every creek and branch thereof, and then retires again towards its own being and fullness, and leaves a savor behind it, so doth the life and virtue of God flow into every one of your hearts, whom he hath made partakers of his divine nature. And when it withdraws but a little, it leaves a sweet savor behind it. [So] that many can say they are made clean through the Word that he hath spoken to them, in which innocent condition you see what you are in the presence of God, and what you are without him.

Therefore my dear hearts, let the enjoyment of the Life alone be your hope, your joy, and consolation. And let the man of God flee those things that would lead the mind out of the cross—for then the savor of the Life will be buried. And although some may speak of things that they received in the Life as experiences, yet the Life being veiled and the savor that it left behind washed away by the fresh floods of temptation, the condition that they enjoyed in the Life, boasted of by the airy things, will be like that manna that was gathered yesterday, without any good scent or savor. For it was only well with the man when he was in the life of innocency, but being driven from the presence of the Lord into the earth, what can he boast of?  

Although you know these things and—many of you—much more than I can say. Yet for the love and zeal I bear to the TRUTH and honor of God, and tender desire of my soul to those that are young, that may read me in that from which I write to strengthen them against the subtle wiles of the serpent that beguiled Eve—I say: Stand into the watch within, in the fear of the Lord, which is the very entrance of Wisdom, and the state where you are ready to receive the secrets of the Lord.

Hunger and thirst patiently, be not weary, neither doubt, stand still and cease from thy own working. And in due time thou shalt enter into the rest, and thy eyes shall behold thy salvation, whose testimonies are sure and righteous altogether. Let them be as a seal upon thy arm and as jewels about thy neck, that others may see what the Lord hath done for your souls.

Confess him before men, yea before his greatest enemies. 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 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 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 [you] from the savor 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 your witnessing of it is sufficient for you, to which I commend you all, my dear Friends. And in it remain.

Your brother,
William Leddra
Boston Gaol, the 13th of the First Month [March], 1661. [‘Twas] but the day before he suffered death.

There are several other letters and epistles of this dear lamb’s writing and some other of our Friends that were put to death at Boston about [the] same time—very weighty, with sweet and heavenly advice, caution, and consolation and comfort; all well worthy to be reprinted; but O me! ink and paper are too short—written by Marmaduke Stevenson, William Robinson, and Mary Dyer, which were put to death at Boston, beside others that were condemned, of which a large account is given of our Friends called “Quakers Sufferings,” by George Bishop, in his book called New-England Judged by the Spirit of the Lord

I say: all writing and printing is too short, although [it is] by the directing of the Holy Ghost, without its own work in the heart of mankind, that is and ever will be the summum bonum [supreme good].