THE TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE BEHAVIOUR AND CONFESSION, Of the Condemned Criminals, at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bayly; on the 12th. and 13th. of May, 1687.
There were Condemned Nine persons, viz. Thomas Barrow alias Levistens, William Harris Benjamin Butler, Richard King, and Ann Selby. These Five Persons are in the Dead-Warrant to be Executed on Wednesday the 25th. of this Instant May AT TYBURN, The other Four Malefactors, viz. John Fortyere, Thomas Gervas, Lorina Cary, and Dorothy Hall are Reprieved by His Majesties Most Excellent Clemency.
THe Ordinary visited the Condemned Malefactors on Saturday; after he had Prayed with them, he used Arguments to excite them to sincere Repentance, which made some impressions upon them; they were exhorted to rely on the Spriit of God, to carry on their Convictions and sorrow for their sins, unto a thorow change of their Hearts: In order to this, they must endeavour to shun the Rocks of Presumption and dispair. The Ordinary exhorted them that they would Redeem the lost opportunities of Grace and Salvation, by the utmost improvement of the few Minutes that remain: They promised to be careful in so doing. I cautioned them not to be credilous of their deceitful Hearts, the rather, because Heaven is not obtained by a few good desires, nor a sight formal Profession of Repentance, whereby persons betray themselves to Hell the more unsuspectedly. After other Advice given to them, I dismist them with Prayer, and desired them to prepare their Hearts, for the Solemn dutys of the approaching Sabbath.
On the Lords Day, the Ordinary Read Prayers, and Preached twice on this Text, viz.. The 16th. Chapter of St. Johns Gospel, the 8th. 9th. 10th. and 11th. verses. I will send the Comforter and when he is come, he shall Convince the world of sin, because they believe not in me. Of Righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye shall se me no more. Of Judgment, because the Prince of this World is judged.
After these Words were largely explained, practical Observations were raised from them.
To be subdued by Christs Spirit, to Embrace the Mysteries of Christianity, for the promoting of Piety is a clearer demonstration of Christs, and the Spirits Divine Authority, than all those miraculous Effects exhibited in Bodily dispossession of the Devil. Judgment taken there in a merciful Sense signifies the Reiteration of sinners, from their confused ruinous State, in sinning unto the Glorious Liberty of the Sons of God, by setting up Christs Judgment-Seat in their Hearts, for the subduing of Corrupt Nature, to the Jurisdiction of Christs Word and Spirit.
Unbelief is the proper Soul-Damning sin, as being Directly against the only Remedy for recovery from a State of sin and misery. This makes soul Diseases to be deadly desperate, for all hopes of escaping Divine Wrath shall be defeated. If Satan by all his Power and Policy could not evade the Sentence of Condemnation, then his Slaves and Complices in Rebellion shall be most certainly adjudged to Eternal Trments, because they sin against the Remedy offer’d to them, which Ingratitude the Prince of Darkness is not Guilty of. Then the Ordinary proceeded to what Respects the Spirit Convinces of sin, in its heinious Aggravations. Secondly, what are the Causes why sinners are not affected with such
Convidions, so as to submit to them Thirdly, What are the signs of a thorough and found Conviction to Conversion.
Then he proceeded to exhort sinners not to check the Conviction of Christs Holy Spirit, because such who are strangers to the Frame and Complexion of their Souls, are usually Enemies to God and his Laws.
Take heede therefore, of relapsing into any sin, for which you have smarted in the Festring Wounds of Conscience to ingratiate with your Lusts after a seeming disavowment, is worse than if you had never look’d strangely upon them. What is this, but to Court Satan to re-enter into your Hearts as his Free-hold? His Returns are always more Violent and Fatal, than his direct and profess’d Assaults, Lusts disturb ed only by slight Convictions, (as bodily Corrupt Humours by weak Physick) are more provoke’d and inflam'd, because not throughly purged out by the sincere Love of Vertue.
Rather Bless the Spirit of God for his severest Convictions, in order to molt wife and merciful Designs.
Here were Instances given of them.
Then was stated the Divine Propertys of Christs Priestly Propitiatory Merits, for the healing of a wounded Conscience in sincere penitentiarys
Also Rules how to apply Christs Righteousness aright.
1. Not rashly, till the sinner become weary of the Brthen and Bondage of his Lusts, sick of the sensual pleasures of sin, so as to be made willing, to resign himself to the Government of his Redeemer and the Conduct.of his Spirit.
II. We must not be too late in the Application of Christs Healing; Righteousness, by procrastinating delays, and stout obduration of Heart, till the day of Grace be past and run out.
III. We must avoid those mischevious Evils, which obstruct and invalidate the Sovereign Virtue of this Remedy, in it's due Oporation and saving Effects.
IV. We must apply Christs Priestly Merits with an Holy impartiality, for purity in Heart, equally with Peace in Conscience, for the inflaming our Love to Christ, and the Confirmation of our Obedience, otherwise we cannot plead for pardon, nor apply the Privileges and Benefit's of Christs Kingly Righteousness, in all soule wants and diftress.
Here were rectified some mistakes, about the undue licentious Application of Christs Righteousness.
Next the Ordinary demonstrated the excellent, propertys of the Spirits Convictions, which he carrys on, for the advantage, of true Converts safety, and Consolation.
Christs Spirit, convinces Authoritatively and, Superlatively to Men and Angels. Me is God Almighty to convince thorowly and effectually to Salvation, He is the only Heart-perswader, to Embrace Chist in the Latitude of every Office. He convinces of the Equity of Christs Governmentr; that he being the sinners erciful Conor, in pardoning the Rebellion, should likewise be his overeign Law-giver, to dispose of his Heart and course of Life, as himself will direct. How quitable is this, that Gods goodness should be incircled with Majesty, that so pardoned sinners may fear to displease him, for his very Clemency. Is not subjection to Christ perfect liberty?
What is the Harmony of the soul, but the due arid comely subordination of all the Facultys and Affections, to the Dominion of sanctified Reason. This is the Conviction of Judgment, which makes the Purity, Equity, and Efficacy of Christs Government, aimable and obliging.
This is more difficult, than to submit to Christ as a Prophet, or a Priest. Reason inlightned to Conviction, will close with Divine Truth;. And Self love, will Ballance Pride in Hypocrites, readily to apply Christs Priestly Merrits for Pardon and Salvation; but such are only half Converts, and in danger of perishing by Unbelief, whose Hearts are not thorowly subdued, to imbrace Christs Kingly Righteousness, in the conduct of his Word and Spirit.
Here the Ordinary demonstrated, that it is a merciful Severity, that the Holy Spirit of God, should condescend to strive with trifling sinners, to overcome their stubbornness with his goodness.
Neither the happiness of Christ nor of his Spirit, is in the least disturbed nor detrimented: If sinners extinguish their Convictions, themselves. only, will aggravate their Condemnations, if they cause the Spirits striving with them, to become Abortive.
Therefore, what great cause of thankfulness have such, who have subjected themselves chearfully to the Convictions of Christs Spirit Consider, you might (had you been left to the Guidanceof your selves) have Acted the whole Mystery of Religion as in a Dream. You might have Dyed under the Calenture of your Lusts, or under a Lethargy of impenitent Security, sin might have been your sport and delight, not your burthen, or if so, it might have sunk you by dispair into the lowest Hell. But, I hope some of you have been convinced of sin, so as to loath it, and your selves for it. Consider how the Spirit of Christ Triumphs over Satan, when he hath silenced all prejudices, and Arguments of sinners Pride and Obstinacy, which a Diabolical Sophistry furnish’d them withal. Hell is inraged as having lost a Member of their Black Society, but the Spirit and Bride of Christ, say, Welcome thrice Blessed Souls, who imbrace a.Ccifi’d Saviour, you never till now, understood your true interest; Honour and Happiness to center in Christ for rest and satisfaction; in his Bosome; take up your Abode for ever. Thus doth the Holy Spirit Congratulate his blessed success, in his reconciling Office, making Saints of uners, and Heirs with Christ in Glory, of Bondslaves to Satan and their Lusts. Thus doth the doveliek Spirit of Christ, delight to extract a Miracle of Love and.Mercy, out of the severity of a found Conviction. Thus doth he Cure by Wounding, and Chastize the lost sinner into the Activity of the Diving Nature, sparkling with the sublime dispositions of a re
newed soui. This is the very portal of Heavenly Glory and Felicity, of which, The Lord make us all partkers.
On Monday the Ordinary visited the Condemned Prisoners, he prayed with them, and exhorted them, that they would prepare themselves for approaching Death; and not put off the Evil Day, by expecting of any Reprieve. He stated to them the true Nature of Faith and Repentance, as indispensible Conditions of Salvation. They contess’d that they had been negligent of their Duty to God and Man, but endeavoured now to redeem their mispent time. I told them that tho' their Lusts had ruled them hitherto, yet, if now they esteem Obedience to Gods Preepts, to be their truest Freedom and best Interest, they would detest their former base Compliances with sin and sinners; but it is very dangerous to trifle with the Holy God, and to be remiss in eing to be reconciled to him, till the stroke of Death be ready to seperate soul and body. I inquired therefore, what grounds they had, to hope for a future state of Blessedness.
I shall proceed to give an Account of die Confessions of most of them.
1st. Ann Selby, Condemed for setting on Fire her Mistresses house, on Snow hill, London Aged 18 Years, Born in Northampton Shire, She says she hath lived in London 7 Years, four of which time, she hath spent in service ; she was but three Weeks with her Mistress,. where she attempted the foresaid mischief. The Ordinary ask'd her who tempted her to so wicked a Fact, she replyed, that a person now gone for Ireland, set her on work, who, as she said, owed her Mistress a Grudge, but pretended kindness to her self, arid promised her Marriage, if she would perform his wicked Advice. But he like the Evil Spirit, after he had tempted her to so mischevious ah Act, (which her self confess'd,might have been the deftruction of many) left her to publick shame and punishment.
She acknowledged that the foresaid person directed her to take a lighted Candle, and with it to touch the Turpentine in a Barrel, and when she law it flame to endeavour her own escape, by hasting away, and leaving the Family to the danger. He promised to take her with him into Ireland, but she found it a delusion, for himself is fled. She said that she is sorry that she did such a dreadful Act. She refused to come on the Lords Day to the Chappel, and since to any Counsel or Prayers, saying that she was of another Religion. On the next day after Condemnation she seemed to be sorrowful, and said, that if she might be saved, she hoped she should not attempt the the like Crime again. The Ordinary told her, that the Hear was very deceitful, and he wishes that she may be a warning to others, not to believe fair pretences from any person, who may at the same time have a design for mischief, and not to be so fond of Marriage, as to carry on an attempt destructive to Mankind, for the end thereof will be shame and deserved punishment.
2dly Dorothy Hall, Condemned for picking a Gentlemans Pocket, in which were Guineas, and above s, in silver she is Aged sixteen Years,and was Born in the Strand, Her, Father (she says) is dead; and she being not subject to the Government of her Mother, was, drawn away from the Family, by the instigations of Evil persons, and that for a supply of her extravagant Expences, she had learn’d that deceitful Art aforesaid: She confess’d that tho' she be young in Years, yet. that; the Devil had frequently tempted her to evil ways, and that she had not guarded her heart by Prayer, to resist those Temptations.
She saith, that the Fact, for which she is Condemned, was brought on by walking idly in the streets: There she met an Old ffender, and went with her to a Publick house, where, in the time of drinking with a Gentleman, she took the Advantage to get his Money. She hopes, this may be a warning to her to quit her bad Acquaintance, and to set about some Lawful Employment, that she may not be exposed to the snares of Satan, but may repeat of her evil Courses. She hath some measure of Knowledge in Religion, but not well improved: Therefore I advised her, if she may be reprieved, not to forget the present good resolutions, which she had under, the Sentence of Death, because many in this place have returned to their vain Courses, and leave them not, till, they bring.upon themselves an untimely End.
3dly. Lorana Cay, Condemned for Felony, Aged eighteen years, Born.in Hereford-shire. Parents are Dead;she said that she waited on a Young Lady at the Lord Brnkerds, but she had not her health, and so quitted her service.
Afterwards she lived with a Gentlewoman in this City. She hath not been three, Years in London: she acknowledged that she had not spent her time so well as she ought to have done; but that a Covetous mind prevailed upon her, to supply her Excess in unlawful ways. She made great; Dolor and Lamentation under her sentence of Death, to the disturbance of Prayer and advice. But I desired her to abate her Passions, because that true repentance doth not consist in violent Exclamations against her own folly; but in the hearty detestation of sin, and she change of corrupt Nature; I instructed her in the Nature of true Faith and Repentance, and that sincere Conviction for sin, proceeds not from Legal Terrors only, but as sin desiles the Conscence, and violates the sacred Authority of Gods Laws.
4thly, Thomas Jervas, Condemned for a Felouious Act: he was Born in the Parish of St. Martins in the Fields, Aged not quite eighteen years, till September next. The Ordinary asd’d him what Employment he was rought p unto; he replyed that he was not put forth to be an Aprentice, he assigned this for that Omission, because his Father had spent his Estate, and had not wherewith to provide for his Family. This he laments as the occasion of his idling away his time, and that he had vacant hours wherein to contrive wickedness. I told him that the pretence of his Fathers Poverty, however contraded, did not necessitate him to commit any unlawful Act, but his own evil disposition; he ought rather to submit to the meanest Employ
ment, than thus to have violated his Conscience, and the Laws of the Nation; had he preserved an honest mind, by depending on Divine Providence for a subsistance, he had not carved for himself to maintain his vicious Courses. To this he replyed, that he never before committed any base Act to the injury of any person; but he had not kept the Sabbath, nor prayed, that he might not be overcome by the evil inclinations of his own Heart.
He wept that he should be so venturous to run into the snares of Death, by breaking into a house which he Robbed alone; I ask'd him what Repentance is, he said, a change of the Heart from the Love of all sin, to the Love of God in Christ; and said, if he might be spared, he hoped, that he should amend his Life, and for that purpose, desired me to pray for him, that God would make him sincere in the use of all those means, which he should seek him in, to attain the sanctified Effects of this his distressed Condition.
5thly. Another Condemned Criminal, said that he was Born in Hartford-shire, Aged twenty two Years. He said that he never was in any Prison before; he denys the Fact, but says that he is sorry for some evil Acts formerly committed: That while he was at home with his Friends, he kept the Sabbath, but when he was from them, he took Liberty to neglect his Duty to God, and kept Company with idle persons, which hath turned to his prejudice: he desired ray Prayers that he might amend his Life; and upon Wednesday when I exhorted him and another, to clear up the Truth of their Repentance, and to acquaint me what hopes they had of a future happy State, he was much sensible of his wicked Life, and said, that he hoped this affliction would tend to his Benefit, because he formerly was ignorant in the knowledge of Religion; but now, as he is instructed better, he should be more careful to practice what he is convinced of, to be his Duty, if he might be spared.
6thly. William Harris, Condemned for Coining false Money. He was Born in St. Giles's in the Fields, Aged twenty seven Years, He followed for three Years the Trade of a Silver- smith ; he confessed that he neglected to keep the Sabbath he did not Pray as he ought to have done, that he might trust in Gods Providence to supply his wants, having a Wife and Children, He laid that he intended to leave off this wicked Practice, and to have sought out some Lawful Employment. I told him that his Crime is of such a Nature, that it seldome escapes Death, if dilcovered; and therefore, that he should do well to improve that little time afforded to him, in recalling to mind the former Course of his Life, and heartily Repent of his sins, which he seemed to be sensible of. He had some Competent knowledge of Religion, therefore he was the more troubled, that he had not lived up to the true Profession of it.
I ask’d him what laving Faith is? he replyed, an hope in Christ for Salvation. I said he will not become the Author of Eternal Life, but only to such, who obey him. He said that he was broken and contrite in heart for his sins, and such Christ hath promised not to reject. He said that his heart was deceitful, but he hoped by Prayer and Repentance, that Christ will wash away his sins, in the Merits of his Blood-shed. He advises all persons to take warning by him, not to dare to imbase his Majesties Coin, how secret so ever they think to carry it; he finds that God will discover it when they most presume that they shall escape the Sentence of the Law for such offences.
This is all the Account which I can give of this Session.
About ten of the Clock on Wednesday, the foresaid Prisoners in the Dead-warrant were carryed to Tyburn to be Executed, viz. Benjamin Butler and William Harris the two Coiners drawn in a Sledge, Ann Selby, Thomas Barrow alias Leviston, and Richard King in Carts: The first four dyed seemingly Penitent, and desired all Spectators to take warning by them, and to pray for them: Richard King was very Penitent; he said that he had led an ill Life, but desired all young persons to take heed of Sabbath breaking, and of ill Coompany, or any other course of Life, which might bring them to an untimely End: he prayed for himself, so did the Ordinary and another Minister, desired by his Friends to attend him. After the Ordinary had a second time recommended the souls of them all to God, they prayed for themselves, and then the Excutioner performed his Office.
This may be Printed R.P. May the 25th 1687.
LONDON, Printed by D.Mallet next Door tothe Star, between Fleet-Bridge and Bridwell Bridge.