Oliver Cromwell - Man of Faith


For a start, click here for a good lecture (1993) by Clive Goulden from REFC History Lectures Website. It gives a good  introduction about Oliver Cromwell -  this remarkable Christian Man, Soldier, Politician, and Statesman who has left behind him a rich legacy that we are now blessed with particularly in regards to the principles of religious freedom and much more.   

Link to all my blog-posts on Oliver Cromwell.

Here is a good Timeline for the life of Oliver Cromwell - Click here  


Well, due to studies and exams, it's been a while since my last post. But here I go with one and hopefully, with God's help, next week I will give all my readers another one! 

Today (though now a bit late in the day, here!), the 3rd of September, is a very interesting and important day in history. First, on that day in 1939, Britain (including all countries in the Commonwealth) declared war on Nazi Germany after Hitler's forces attacked Poland. This was the beginning of World War II - a war that changed the world and changed the course of history in many ways. I find this time really fascinating, since I see that God was very much at work during that time of darkness. I hope to write more about this time in later posts. 

However, today I would like to concentrate on another time that perhaps fascinates me even more. This date is also the anniversary of one of Oliver Cromwell's greatest victories, the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. There he fought against Charles II's forces. King Charles I had already been executed for his crimes against England, but his son Charles II (the one who years later imprisoned John Bunyan and many other puritans, and killed many of the Scottish Covenanters) was fighting to get his father's throne. At Dunbar, Cromwell's army was trapped and heavily outnumbered. After a night of fervent prayer, he had a deep assurance that God would give them victory and he encouraged his officers of this. The next day, God truly delivered them and Cromwell stopped briefly at the end of the Battle and sang Psalm 117.  He always remembered this day with deep gratitude.

Amazingly, on that same day a year later, Cromwell had another major victory in the Battle of Worcester against Charles II. Cromwell called it God's 'crowning mercy'. This finally ended the long and bloody phase of the English Civil War. 

To the end of his life and throughout his Protectorate he celebrated  this day as a day of thanksgiving. 

However, it was also, amazingly, on this very day that the Lord chose to take him home. He had faithfully served his country and God's people throughout, even though he was hated, misunderstood, and wronged from many quarters (sadly, this included fellow Christians who either disagreed with him or were simply jealous). Yet, he was very humble, bore it meekly, and forgave. 

Here are some memorable things he said on his deathbed. They show how much he really loved God (Remember that these words came from one of Britain's greatest rulers - feared and respected throughout Europe):  

When his wife and children stood weeping about him, he said, 'Love not the world, I say unto you, it is not good that you should love the world. Children, live like Christians, and I leave you the Covenant [The Covenant of Grace and Redemption between God and His people] to feed upon

'The Lord hath filled me with as much assurance of his pardon, and his love, as my soul can hold.

'I think I am the poorest wretch that lives; but I love God, or rather, am beloved of God.' 

'Truly God is good; indeed He is; He will not [leave me].

'I would be willing to live to be farther serviceable to God and His people; but my work is done. Yet God will be with his people

Several people who were present with Cromwell in his last hours wrote down the words of this moving prayer that in many ways portrays his heart in a nutshell: 

Lord, though I am a miserable and wretched creature, I am in covenant with thee through grace. And I may, I will cove to thee, for they people. Thou hast made me, though very unworthy, a mean instrument to do them some good, and thee service; and many of them have set too high a value upon me, though others wish and would be glad of my death; Lord however, thou do dispose of me, continue and go on to do good for them. Give them consistency of judgement, one heart, and mutual love; and go on to deliver them, and with the work of reformation; and make the Name of Christ glorious in the world. Teach those who look too much on they instruments, to depend more upon thyself. Pardon such as desire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm, for they are thy people too. And pardon the folly of this short prayer: - Even for Jesus Christ's sake. And give us a good night, if it be thy pleasure. Amen. 

Throughout his Protectorate, Cromwell mourned the disunity and lack of love among many Christians of his day. He worked hard and prayed for the day when there would be love and unity between God's people. And he hoped that the principle of religious freedom that he vigorously fought to establish, would endure. 

In one of his letters (one of my favourites) to his son-in-law, Fleetwood, we see more of Cromwell's faith. He wanted to encourage his daughter, Biddy, who seems to have been going through some spiritual struggles. He wrote:   
Love argueth in this wise: What a Christ have I; what a Father in and through Him...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 comfort within us? What God hath done, what He is to us in Christ is the root of our comfort: in this is 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. 

I will conclude with H. F. Lovell Cocks' own conclusion: 

It was here [referring to the above letter] that Cromwell rested. He had his faults and his blind spots. He made his mistakes and some of them were serious [my note: as often happens with Generals or politicians]. But living this authentic New Testament faith he walked before God and men in profound humility and love of the brethren. Such was the man to whom even those who hated him conceded greatness. Misunderstood, misjudged, reviled by his enemies, and wounded in the house of his friends, his life-work so precariously poised and so soon overturned and destroyed [my note: referring to the Restoration after his death when they brought back Charles II], he towers over his contemporaries in lonely eminence for the magnanimity of his nature and the large compassion of his heart...to Cromwell's steward...'A larger soul...hath seldom dwelt in a house of clay.' (The Religious life of Oliver Cromwell, p. 82, 83)

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1978) confirms this by commenting that:

That great period during Cromwell's Protectorate...was one of the most amazing epochs in the whole history of [England]. To me it was certainly one of the most glorious...Oliver Cromwell is a man whom we do not honour as we should.  (The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors, p. 394)

I pray this will not always be so. I personally found his life and work to really inspire me in my walk with the Lord. May do the same for you, too, my dear readers.

God Bless.


D. M. Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987.

H. F. Lovell Cocks, The Religious Life of Oliver Cromwell, London: Independent Press LTD, 1960.

Thomas Carlyle, Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches with Elucidations. 

Click Here to watch the Cromwell movie.
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