A True ACCOUNT of the Behaviour and Confession Of the Nine Criminals that were Executed at TYBURN, On Friday the 31st of May 1689. whose Names are as follow, viz. Charles Hughes, Jacob Turner William Bird, Charles Lee, Edward Sibley, William Miller, Richard Bullen, Thomas Watkins, James Felton.
ON the Lord's-Day the Ordinary read Prayers, and preacht twice to the condemned Prisoners. In the Forenoon the Text was the 8th Verse of the 5th Chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. There is no Principle more fixt in a reasonable Creature, than a restless desire after Happiness. Yet Men mistake in nothing more, than in a fond persuit of such false measures and means as reach not true substantial Blessedness. Therefore, to undeceive miserable Pretenders to Happiness, while they wander in a painful Labyrinth of unsuccessful means to attain it, our Saviour in these eight Beatitudes directs to such proper and genuin dispositions, as will certainly send to, and instate the Soul in teal Felicity. Heartpurity is a Frame not only blessed at present, but leads to future Happiness, in the perfect knowledge of God in Heaven, joined with an exact Assimilation to him, and a delightful enjoyment of him to all Eternity.
The parts of the Text were explicated, and Evangelical Heart-purity stated as the Spring of all sincere Obedience. Real Heart-purity is an universal Conformity of all the Souls Faculties and Affections to all the Precepts of Divine Revelation, tho cross to carnal Reason, or slie Self-Interest. It forms clear and honourable Conceptions of God, suitable to his Divine Excellencies, so as to be transformed, into their Divine Effects.
Heart-purity strikes at the Root of all Self-seeking, which confines the Noble Soul to particular low for did Times. It will enter into us as the Refiner's Fire. It will become every way absolute. It will not suffer any Corrival with God, either in point of commanding our Obedience, or Courting of our Love. It strikes at all speculative retired spiritual Filthiness in the Heart. But a mixture of Carnality, where Hypocrisie predominates, renders all the parts of spiritual Religion uneasie, yea, casts them off as grievous. Contrarywise, the power of Godliness will make a Man live up to the heighth and dignity of his renewed Nature, and not to act degenerately, below his holy state, as not being enslaved to any Lust or Passion.
An Heart purified by Divine Truth, may assure itself, that it is translated into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God. It may view the Plot of its Salvation transtted already, in the impression of a Godlike Nature.
Here were mentioned some Arguments, to demonstrate that the pure in heart are blessed; also the misery of all prophane persons, in being devoid of the Beauty of Holiness.
After many Motives urged, to use some Rules or Directions how to attack and promote Holiness, the Ordinary spake thus to the condemned Criminals.
O who would not study to promote He art parity in the present love and practice of it, that they may be welcomed to the Fessvities of heavenly Glory. Why then do we grasp after sordid Vanities, and not take hold of Blessedness by an holy Violence?
Examine therefore, Is there a Change in your Hearts, Thoughts, Words, Actions and Affections? Is here a mighty world of Renewing Grace on your Spirits? Try your Title to heavenly Felicity, by your universal, constant sincere and chearful Obedience to the Commands of Christ.
O why are we dead to the love and practice of true Piety, as if Heaven were a phantastick Dream! Why are we as hot and eager on Sinning, as if Held had no Fire, or it was all vanisht into Smoke?
O who would not ambitiously aspire to get a Sight of God, who is the matchless Mirror of Divine Truth, and the insinite Beauty of all Perfection! If we hope for such a Sight, why doth it not warm us with the greatest love of Holiness, and put us, as it were, into a Transport of most active Zeal in a course of Piety?
But why should I use farther Arguments to allure Men to embrace their own Happiness? Holiness is the matter of our freest Choice. The Lord sets Life and Death this day before you. Do not obstinately hate Knowledge, nor reject the Fear of the Lord, by whose Smiles or Frowns men live or dye eternally. The very Hell of Hell, is to be given up to the cursed consummation of wickedness; but the very quintessence of heavenly Happiness, is to be made perfect in Holiness, as a lively, lovely Representation of the Deity, Only the pure in heart shall fee and enjoy God, in whose presence is Fulness of Joy, and at whose Right Hand are Rivers of the Divinest Pleasures to all Eternity, without any stint or saciety.
On Monday the Ordinary visited the Condemned, and inquired what Divine impressions the Author of all Grace had made on their Hearts by the foregoing Counsels and Prayers. They reply'd, That they were much awakened from their Security in a Sinful course, that the sight and Sense of their Iniquities did much afflict and trouble their minds. To which I reply'd, That clear and strong Convictions in Confidence may vanish in a fruitless sense of Sin, unless they proceed to a thorow work, of Conversion.
To this, One more knowing than the rest assented, and desired me that I Would expound in the Afternoon the 10th and 11th verses of the 7th Chapter of the 2d Epistile to the Corinthians.
After all the Seven Signs as inseparable Concomitants of true Repentance, had been treated of the Condemned said, That they now understood the Nature of Repentance more clearly and fully than before, yet they acknowledged that they could not work such a change in their own hearts. I told them, That the New Creation was a more wonderful Effect of God's Power, than the forming of the visible structure of Heaven and Earth. I declared in what Respects.
On Tuesday the Ordinary having prayed with the Condemned, askt them One by One, of the Employment they were bred up into, and how they sell into a vicious course of Life?
First Charles Hughes, Condemned for Murdering his Wife, who was punisht for the Fond Love of his Comeliness, tho they knew that he had been formerly Condemned, as having been a Prisoner herself. Hughes told me, that he had very Religious Education. I replied, the greater is your Sin, as being against clearer Light, and for degenerating from the Counsels and Examples of pious Ancestors. I told him, That their Virtues could not save him, unless he now repeat that he walkt not in their steps. The Parisees boasted that they had Abraham to their Father, but the Baptist consuted that proud presumption, by assuring them, That every Tree which did not bring forth good Fruit, should be bew’n down, and cast into the Fire. He said that he was not brought up to any Employment, which exposed him to many evil Temptations. He could not deny, but that he had been refractory in running from the strict Government of his Father, and thereby justly left to fall into farther Extravagancis. I several times pray’d with him, before He took his Tryal, to compose his Mind, for he was very impatient under his Imprisonment, than which there cannot be a more barbarous Fact. He said he was transported by passion at some insolent, words his Wife gave him, but wishes that he had endured all Reproaches patiently, rather than thus to have shortned her Life, and his own, yet he hopes that the merits of Christ's Bloodshed will pacifie God's angry Justice, and make his shameful death a means to bring him to Repentance, and save his Soul.
The Second, Jacob Turner of the Parish of St. Botolphs Bishopsgate, was Condemned for the Murder of his Wife. He was born in London, is about the Age of 44 years, was a Weaver by Trade, which he followed for some long space of time; yet falling into decay, it bred discontents betwixt him and his Wife. He said that he had not any design to kill her, but did it in a sudden violent passion, for which he is very sorrowful; not because he must dye, but because he hath greatly sinned against God, and dishonoured his professing of Religion to which he pretended, bat now questions the sincerity his heart. He was mach dejected at first, but upon a more particular discoursing with him, and praying for him, he said he found his heart more softened and relying upon God for his mercy. He was the most knowing Person among the Condemned. He said that Repentance to Salvation abhors every Act of Sin, and flies all Temptations and Occasions leading to it. I askt him, How Faith and Presumption differ. He said, That true Faith doth purisie the Heart, and renew the Conscience, as well as pacifie and becalm it, in the lively hope of God's pardoning Mercy. Fr where he remits the guilt of Sin, he mortifies and subdues the love and power of it: So that the Sin which was most delightful, is rendered most bitter in a penitential abhorring of it. Upon observation of his whole Behaviour, I do think that he was an Example of Repentance to the rest of the Criminals.
The Fourth, Charles Lee was Condemned for Felony Upon Thomas Trot in the King's Highway. He said that he was born in Cheshire, that he was 19 years of age, that his Employment was to Sell Cloth in the Country as a Pedlar . He came to London last Winter, but finding no Employment here, he fell into bad Acquaintance, and faith he was Fudled when he Robbed. I told him that was no Excuse, but an Aggravation, because he added Sin to Sin. He reply'd, that he was sorry for taking any extravagant Courses. I askt him what Repentance was? He said, it must be for the least Sin, as an offence against God, rather than for Fear of Hell. That it must be such a Sorrow for Sin, as to hate and forsake it, and to loath himself for it; and that true Faith is joined with a good Conscience. I hope he was penitent.
The Fifth, Edward Sibley of Stepney was Condemned for Felony and Burglary. He said that he was a Butcher in St. Sepulchre's Parish, that he had travelled formerly into Barbadoes, Jamaica, and Virgina, his Employment lately was in the Victualling House for the Navy . He said that he had received many Preservations from God in his Travels, and did resolve thereupon to walk more circumspectly in the course of his Life, But he broke his Vows to God, and was negligent of Religious Duties, whereupon he committed many Sins, and this Crime, for which he is Condemned. But he begs of God to give him true Repentance, and Faith in Jesus Christ, that he may obtain the pardon of all his Sins, and that if his Life may be spared, he hopes he shall never sin in such Excess as formerly.
The Sixth, William Miller of Stepney Condemned for Felony. He said that he was bred up to Husbandry , that he came to St.Giles’s in the Fields little before Christmas to seek Employment, but meeting not with any agreeable to that he had been used to he served under a Plaisterer for the pac of two Months since. That he is sorry for all his Sins against God, more than for the Sentence of Death past upon him. That is will not be terrible him, if he may obtain Gods ardon, and have a comfortab hope of Eternal Life. He seemed very Penitent.
The rest of the Condemned were not willing to give any Account of the Course of their Life, therefore here I must conclude my Report of this Session.
On Friday Morning about Ten a Clock, the Nine Prisoners Condemned were put into three Carts, and Conveyed to the Execution.
But by the way take Notice of this Remark:
On Thursday Night about the Hour of One, these Nine and Captalsingham (who was Condemned for Murther) being in the Condemned Hole, a Design or Attempt to break the Goal was offered in Dispute amongst them, unto which the Capt. and Jacob Turner would not consent, upon which the other Eight bound them. Hand and Foot, threatening them wish Death if they yed out, after which the other Eight sell to Wok upon the Boards enching up about the number of three, and sliding down into a ole, beneath, by the help of a Rope fastned o a Ring near the broken place; all which Contrivance is supposed to be tted by some of the Prisoners Familiars. After they were beneath the Condemned Hole, they made further Attempts, and devised to find out the Common Shoar, or at least to break out next the Passage in the Gate-way, singing of Psalms all the while they were at work, pleasing themselves with the Conce of being upon their Duty, towards God, as they were Condemned, &c. But God Amighty the Searcher of all Hearts found them out. Thus, the Prisoners on the Common-side hearing a Noise awaken’d the Keepers in the Lodge, and the Major being call’d for, ho a Bnder buse at them below, Charged with Pease, which did no Execution, only afrighted them, and in short made them yield, &c.
When they were all in the Cart, the Ordinary exhorted them at to true Repentance for all their Sins, and prayed with them singing a Psalm, &c. after which he asked them to confess to the People the occasion of their coming thither. At which they seemed to give but a kind of a general slight Answer. Those of them most concern’d, were Thomas Watkins, William Bird, and Richard Bullen. The other were little concern’d, especially Charles Lee, who was Condemn’d for Robbing on the High-way. As soon as he came into the Cart, he seemed to be very resolute, and look with a very angry Countenance, taking a handful of Mny out of his Pocket, threw it our of the Cart amongst the Spectatos, saying Gentlemen here is poor Countrey Jack’s Farewell. But after he demonstrated himself further, saying, I have followed the Road these seven years and more and have got Money enough to maintain me as long as I need to live. The late King bad 1500 l. of my Gettings, &c. He said further, That he never committed Murder, nor never Robbed any poor Man in his Life. Upon his turning off, he gave two extraordinary Jerques with his Legs, which was much admitted by all the Spectators.
Licens’d May 1.J.Fraser.
These are to give Notice to all Persons, for the Ben of the Publick, That Mr. Elmy Operator, of known tegrity, and above 25 Years Practice, Liveth at the Bletholomew lane by the Royal Exchange, who most asely and expeditiously Cures Deadness and Noise in th Ears in any of what Age soever, (if Cuable) and a First Sight, by Inspection, Resolves the Patient if so or not, as most Ent Persons of Quality in this City can Testifie. He hath likewise a most xcellent Gargarism or Mouth water, which cures any Canker, lcer, o Survy in the Mouth, fastning loose Teeth, and making black ones as white as Ivory.
London, Printed by D.M. near Fleetbrdge. 1689.