A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the 8 Criminals that were Executed at Tyburn, On Monday the 26th of January, 1690.
THE Ordinary preach' to the Condemned Criminals from this Text, Rom. 2. 15. Who show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing one another.
Hence was set forth the great Aggravation of such sins, which are directly and perversly committed against the clear and strong Convictions of the Natural Conscience. It is a superadded Abomination to sin against the positive express Revelation of the written Law of God, and the Gospel Rules of Christianity.
When Conscience, that Natural Magistrate in every Man's Heart, hath loft its commanding, directing, garding and chastizing Power, it soon becomes so visated and stupified as not to be able to put any difference 'twixt what is morally good or evil. Thus it proceeds to run out into all Unnatural and Abominable wickedness.
Here was demonstrated, That there is such a Faculty of the Soul in Man, which is stiled the Conscience. This implies a conjunct knowledge of the Rule of Mans obedience, which if not correspended to accuses, condemns and upbraids the sinner. God hath imprinted his own Divine Authority in all the particular offices of the Conscience. This fits upon a Throne, to Award Life or Death. The Damned shall feel the the sting of it for ever, though here they have bribed and blinded it, that it may not trouble them. Every Man when he sins, knows that he acts contrary to the Rule of Righteousness, yet many sin wilfully against the very dictates of Nature. Sometimes upon foregoing Deliberation and Contrivance. Hence, there is little Reluctancy of Conscience, in the time of acting the sin, little Remorse afterward, and less Resolution to oppose and forsake sin for the future.
Hence I answer, That if God were so justly provoked to give up the Heathen to a Reprobate Mind, for sinning only again the weak glimmering light of Nature, how woful is the state of such sinners, who being most clearly instructed in their Duty, yet dare to commit and justifie the most heinous Abominations, yea to Glory in their own shame? That God sees them not, is their hope: that Men may not see them is their Care, and that themselves may not take notice of their sins, is their desire and chief design.
Oh take heed that you embrace not fellowship with the works of Darkness! This you will do, if your Eyes are only dazled with the light of Divine Truth, while your Hearts are not changed nor renewed by it.
Consider how great a sin it is, directly to grieve and oppose the Spirit of Grace, in his loving Sollicitations, to believe and repent, that Men may obtain a blessed Eternity.
And yet many are not afraid to be adjudged by God, to Eternal Torments. These are invisible to sense, and in Carnal Mens account, at so great a distance, that they are neither believed nor dreaded. As if the flames of Hell were all vanished into Smoak, and Souls in their Dissolution from the Body, were totally Annihilated. And yet the Judgment of God is, according to Truth, Infallible and Impartial, so as to render to every Man according to the Nature and degree of his Works, whether Good or Evil.
Knowing therefore the Terrors of the Lord at his coming to Judgment be awakened out of your Security to judge your selves, that you may not be condemned with the World of Ungodly Wretches, who deride Holiness and all Sentiments of a troubled Conscience for the greatest Wickedness. To the Condemned
You have heard of the inexcusable misery of the Heathen for acting against their Natural Conscience. But, how is your Condemnation aggravated from all the parts of this Text? Have you not been clearly, fully and strongly Convicted of the Judgment of God against all unrighteousness, and that with impartiality toward all Men? You cannot in the least except against any of those Laws which God hath enacted and ratified byian unalterable Decree, whereby he condemns the least in even by the light and Conviction of your Natural Conscience. This cannot be wholly supprest, much less totally raced out, though you have by all your daring Impieties attempted this impossibility; yea, you have been guilty of greater malignity in sinning, than the very Devils who never contemned nor opposed the offers of Grace and Salvation by Christ. Have you not presumed on God's Long-suffering, which should have led you to Repentance? and dared his very Justice to come forth in Wrath against you? Yea, like the Devils, you have rejoyced in a Cursed Combination with other sinners, by taking pleasure in their Excesses, you have adopted other Mens sins to be come your own, as if your personal affronts of God's Holiness had not weight enough to depress and sink you to the lowest Abyss of Hell Torments in an Eternal Rejection from the Fountain of Life and Blessedness. Let me advise you to retrive your malignity of sinning against God upon these Considerations, though the natural Conscience may suspend the executing of its Offices, for a time, so as to be silent from accusing or condemning you, by long custom in sinning, yet by turns it will return to its Office, in as much as Conscience is God's Spy and Deputy, armed by the Authority of his Commission: Though you conceal sin, in hope of impunity, yet your Conscience will keep a private Session within your selves, so as to condemn you with grief and shame for your most secret sins,
In the interim, or mean while, it will antidate the universal Judgment Day, in vexing and upbraiding you for your contrivances of sinning, though you wanted power and opertunity to commit it. Neither is it enough to abstain from sinning, but you must abhor the first tendencies towards it: You must not only do that which is good, but cleave to it steadfastly with delight. You must in your prospect of the universal JudgmentDay of Christ, exercise your selves to keep Consciences void of offence towards God and Men. A flattering Testimony from it, is the sorest Curse, but a true Approbation from it, grounded on your sincerity, as besprinkled with the Blood of Christ, is an unspeakable priviledge. Then you will serve the Lord vigorously, because with quiet and peaceable minds, as reconciled to him, your selves and the whole Creation.
I proceed to the Behaviour and Confessions of the Condemned
1. John Benlose, Sentenced to Dye for Burglary, and attempting to kill his Master. He said, That it grieves him at the Heart, that he contrived so heinous a Fact, as if he had actually taken away his Life: Since which time, he hath taken a Review of the whole course of his evil Life. He is vile in his own Eyes, by reflecting on that and other foregoing sins. That he kept the Sabath constantly while under his Fathers Education and Inspection. But though his Master also, set good Example before him, yet by mixing with vain Company, he relaed the fear of God, and omitted Prayer, that he might strictly guard his Heart from the breaking out of evil Inclinations. But since this distress upon him, he abhors those sins, which were a devertisement from the Ingenuous Employment, which his Father had provided for him.
He desire to take shame to himself, for afflicting his Parents Hearts with Grief; especially, for offending a gracious God, who may justly deny him Reconciliation with himself. But he hopes, that the Lord will so mollifie his Heart, as that his Convictions shall be carried on to a thorow Conversion, by making him a New Creature in Christ: That if he shall have his life prolonged, he prayes, that he may not return to his former follys, though he distrusts his own Heart, and the present Compunctions in his Conscience. He begged of God that he may be in the same sensibleness of sin, and be fixt in such good Resolutions to amend his life, which are formed in this his present distress.
At another time he said, He desired that the Hearts of all young Persons may be so affected with his untimely death, as to live in the fear of God, and to abandon all Covetous desires after unlawful Gain, but rather would purchase good Books, especially that of the Whole Duty of Man; then they would not be profuse in spending Mony on bad Company, who flatter persons to their Ruine. He lamented that he harkened to the suggestions of Satan, and did not guard his Heart by frequent fervent Prayer against the first Motions of sinning; because the Common Enemy of Mankind very watchful and subile in his Temptations, to intice unto greater wickedness, thereby to cover the shame of lesser evils. He said, That he never suspected his Heart to be so deceitful, as to add iniquity to iniquity, till it brought him to Condign shame and punishment. Yet he is not without hope, that the Lord hath over-ruled this his heinous Fact, to perfect his Convictions, in order to a sincere Repentance for all sin, as an offence against God's Holiness, rather than that he is cut off in the flower of his Youth. He acknowledged, that this was an Aggravation of his Crime, that it was against that Liberal and Vertuous Education of Pious and Tender-Pa, and against a kind inoffensive Master; whose Pardon he begs, together with Mercy, from the Hand of God. I visited him several times before his Tryal, and
rayed with him, and have good Grounds to believe that ue Penitent, which ought to rowle away both the of his Crime and of his Untimely End. Let all Per, in the Sense of their own Propensity to sinning, Implore the Guiding Guarding Presence of the God of all Grace, that they may never be surprized into the like Guilt and fatal shortning of their Lives.
II. Anne Stephens, condemned to dye for Murthering her Bastard Child. I ask'd her how she became so void of all Reason and Modesty, as to prostitute her Chastity? She said, That he who tempted her, being a Servant in the same Family, promised her Marriage, whom she credited, and thereby was prevailed upon, in hope to better her Fortune, but he who bega the Child did not afterward regard her, but utterly refused to marry her, or make any Provision for her Subsistence. So, when she knew herself to be Quick with Child, to avoid the Shame of Bastardy, she quitted her Service, and sought out a Place of Privacy, to be delivered. She denyed not the Crime but lamented her Unnatural Cruelty to her Innocent Babe. She said, That Satan had brought her from one sin to another, because she had not led a good Life, but was Careless of her Duty to God, and was not contented with the Mean Condition of a Servant . She wept, but I told her, That her Tears could not wash off so deep dyed a Sin, but only the efficacy of Christ's Blood shed, applyed by Faith, to make her Heart truly and deeply Penitent She warns all persons to preserve their Chastity, and to take heed of the beginning of any Wantonness in their Conversation, left it spread to Grosser Acts, and end in such Barbarous Murder, to conceal Shame and avoid the Fear of Poverty, when scorned, and left destitute even of Necessaries to support Life, after they yield to the Wicked Temptations of Lustful Persons.
III. Lewis Rantzau, condemned for Murther. He said, That his Education had been mean, as his Father's Example had been evil, who committed an Unnatural Murder on his own Brother, and escap'd into France some Years since. This should have forewarned himself against such an Inhuman Fact, as hath exposed him to an Untimely Ignominious Death: For, it is observable, That Cruelty of Nature and the Mischievous Effects thereof may descend upon Posterity, if they be not the more circumspect to avoid those sinful Inclinations, which prompted their Predecessors to the effusion of Innocent Blood. He confessed, That he had proceeded in a Viscious Life; That he had been a Gamester, inclined to Drunkenness, Swearing, Prophaning the Lord's Day, and other Sins. But he despaired not of God's Mercy in Christ, and therefore begged of him to work in him True Repentance, in the Hatred of all his Viscious Courses.
IV. Nicholas Carter, about fourteen Years of Age, condemned for Robbery. He said, That his Father imployed him in sewing and making of Gloves : But he being Idle, and regardless of his Parents Good Admonitions, ran away from them, and joyned himself to bad Company. Thus he added to his own Evil Inclinations, and was trained up among his Companions, in getting Money by Slight of Hand, in Picking Pockets, till he adventur'd to rob Men of their Hats in the Street. He would not take former Warning, nor acknowledg his Consorts but said, That it repented him he left his Father's Imployment, and that he was disobedient. But if he might be spared he resolved to amend his evil Life.
VI. S. Porter, for Clipping the Currant Money of this Nation.
These four were very obstinate: They would not give any account of their former Evil Courses, neither were they in any manner sensible of the Crimes, they were condemned for. They had Good Advice given them every Day, yet they were not convinced of their trifling with the Offers of Grace and Salvation, as if they believed not a future Judgment, nor the eternal Existence of their Souls.
On Monday the 26th instant, eight of the Criminals who were Condemned this Sessions, were conveyed to the Place of Execution, viz. Samuel Porter was drawn in a Sledge, John Benlose in a Coach, the rest, Christopher Pearse, Francis Leichfield, Joseph Trant, Lewis Rantzau. Nicholas Carter and Anne Stephens were car-tried in two Carts: Where being come, Samuel Porter was first tyed up; who was much hardned, and would not be perswaded to own that notorious Crime of Clypping, saying, That he thought it no Sin. Upon which the Ordinary declared, That it was not only a Crime against the King, but also a great Detriment to the Poor, especially when it was clipp'd within the Ring, for a Poor Man going to Market with a Clipp'd Piece of Mony, to buy Provision for his Family, if it be scrupled he must return without it.
The next being Mr. Benlose, he truly behaved himself like a true Penitent, being highly, sensible of the heinousness of his Fact, crying for Mercy from God; and desired Mr. Ordinary to read a Paper, which he had before written with his own Hand, the Contents of which are these.
The Thred of my Life is now spun to a sad Conclusion, and that you must needs think, That since I received this Earthly Sentence, I have been labouring to make my Peace with God, that so my Soul may be received into Everlasting Happiness. It may be expected, That I should make a long Narration in Detestation of my Crime: But Time and my own Inability abridges you of that Satisfaction: Let it suffice, I am sincerely sorrowful that I offered Injustice to him, whom my Conscience dictates, and my last Breath pronounces, was a Just, Good, and Kind Master to me. I am come to this Place to dye, and it adds to my Bitter Potion, that the cause of it is equivalent to the Shame. But if these Sufferings, upon my Repentance, may contribute any thing, to countervail for future Sufferings, thorrow Christ's Infinite Satisfaction, then it will be happy for me that I am afflicted, for that will remunerate my Earthly Sufferings, and then none will have cause to say, That Death put a stop to my Happiness; nay it will be begun. In Hope of this I willingly leave the Transitory Delusions and Injoyments of this Life, to possess Eternal Blessedness: Which God of his infinite and superabounding Mercy grant. And that all Spectators may answer the End of my Suffering, who am a Sad but Penitent Example that all may take Warning by me.
Lewis Rantzau was extreamly troubled for committing so horid and bloody a Fact is Murther, alledging, That it was Covetousness of Mony that induced him: Likewise Nicholas Carter, the Boy, desired all Young People to take timely warning by his so sudden a Death, acknowledging withal, That he had been used to pick Pockets all his days, &c.
Francis Leichfeild confessed, That he had been a great sinner, and begged pardon of all that he had wronged, and that he was never Guilty of sheding Blood, and that if he had herkened to his Wives good Counsel had never come to such an untimely End.
Then Mr. Ordinary prayed for them all, and after having fervently Exhorted them, and sung a Psalm, they were all turned off.
This is all the Account I can give of this Session.
England's Alarm: or, the French-King's Cruelties Exposed. Containg a True Account of what Usage these Three Nations may expect, if ever they are so unhappy as to become a Prey to that most Cruel and Bloody Tyrant. Humbly offered to the serious Consideration of all such Protestants as endeavour to promote the Power of France, and Enslave these Protestant Kingdoms. Printed for Langley Curtiss near Fleet-Bridge; and are to be Sold by most Booksellers in London and Westminster, Price Six pence.
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