A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the 5 Criminals that were Executed at TYBURN, On Friday the 17th of July, 1691.
THE Ordinary Visited the Condemned on Saturday, to convince them of their sinful and deplorable state, and to prepare them for the Duties of the Lord's Day. He chose for his Text the 19th Verse of the 2d Chapter of Jeremiah, viz. Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy back-slidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord, and that my fear is not in thee, &c. From which words were drawn these Observations:
1. The procuring cause of all those mischiefs which are inflicted on sinners is, their own Provocations of God, not any delight in him to punish them. Thine own wickedness shall correct thee.
2. Sin sooner or later shall not go unpunished, though the sinner be secure.
3. There is a great degree of punishment in the very act of sinning. Sinners are very uneasie in themselves in contriving it, they are always surrownded with fear, lest their works of darkness should be discovered; yea, God himself cannot devize a sorer punishment, than the giving up a sinner to the greedy persute of his Lusts.
4. The sins of some Men are so Notorious by an excess in wickedness, that this might correct and put them on amendment, as being already so extreamly wicked. Thy back-slidings shall reprove thee.
5. They who multiply new Moods in sinning, try all sin rather than truly leave any: such shall be convinced at last, that there is no solidity in sinning, but that they gratifie their Lusts, to the aggravation of their own Condemnation. Thy frequent back-slidigs shall reprove thee.
6. The want of reverenceing God, sutably to his Divine Perfections, is the root of all Apostacy. My fear is not in thee.
7. Wilful back-slidings from God, after acquaintance with him in the experience of his Goodness and solemn Vows to cleave to him, denotes greater malignity of Heart, in such tretcherous dealing, so that the Penal consequents of this, shall be as bitter as bitterness it self. It is an evil and a bitter thing that thou hast forsaken me.
8. It is very difficult to convince a sinner, in whom sin is riveted by custome, that it will prove bitter by the exemplary and remarkable Punishment of it. Know therefore and see this, in the very malignant nature of thy forsaking me, the Fountain of blessedness, who have heapt Obligations on thee to cleave to me.
9. Though sin be sweet and pleasant in the acting, yet it will prove bitterness, yea a deadly Poyson, as the biting of an Asp, which so stupifies that the Pains of Death are not felt. Thus White Powder kills without giving any crack or report of Death: Those Wounds are most Mortal, of which we do not complain; there is no remedy nor antidote against a studied continued concealment of sin; when it is bound on by custome, it soon becomes delightful, as if it were the Perfection of Mens Nature; yea, there is such a pleasing witchcraft in sinning, that it is gratified against all Arguments of Conviction, and held fast against all good nature to the sinners own Destruction. Thus sin will prove a bittersweet, for the wicked conceive their Projects in sorrow, as torturing their Brains to contrive sin cleverly, and to conceal it with the profoundest secrecy; yet they are filled with fears of an Abortion, in the disappointment of their hopes: If they do bring their Design to the Birth, yet they travel to their own Destruction. There is a Destraction in serving the commands of divers contrary Lusts, so that the sinner is perplext which he should first gratifie. Sin turns Prosperity into a Snare; it arms the whole Creation against the sinner when he is most secure; it makes his own guilty fears to fall upon him: Sin is bitter in the effects of shame and reproach; it makes Death terrible as the Persevant of God's Justice, which drags the sinner to Hell, where Divine Wrath shall be poured out in its utmost severity, both endless and irremediless. Considering that sin is thus bitter, be not industrious in Planting and Cultivating such a poysonous Weed, stub it up by the severity of an universal Mortification: Who but a Mad Man would prodigally take up the momentary pleasures of sin on such hard terms as the anguish of a future repentance, though he were sure to attain it. Sinners will be forced at last to confess, that there is no fruit in sinning, but vanity, self-deceit and vexation of Spirit, in the loss of God and their own Souls to Eternity. Therefore repent and be in bitterness of spirit for sinning, as a Parent for the loss of his Firstborn: You have surfeited on the forbidden bitter Fruits of sinning, but in the Lord there are allowed sweets, fulness of Divine Joys and Pleasures, not to be exhausted, but eternally flowing forth without stint; yet what malignity of Heart have you exprest against God in a willful departure from him: Hath the Lord been a Land of Darkness, or a Barren Wilderness to you, that you have quitted his equal, holy, honourable, profitable and pleasant ways? Is there not an infinite reward of Happiness promised to such who persevere to walk in them? what Spiritual Phrensie is this, that you have forsaken the Fountain of blessedness, to drink the poysonous Waters of Iniquity? You have offered violence to the Law of your Creation, and to all Good Nature or Kindness to your selves, in a perverse rejecting the Lord, from the Love and Loyalty of your Hearts. He may now justly harden his Heart against you, though you cry to him in distress: He may beset you with Terrours, because in forsaking him you have been cruel to your own Souls. Yet be not discouraged, if you return to the Lord with your whole Heart, he will not reject you, but imbrace you with the strength and delight of his Mercy. He will create peace in your Consciences, establish his fear in your Hearts, and thereby so confirm his Love to you, that you shall not dread to walk through that dark Vally of the shadow of Death, because the Lord of Life and Glory will be with you, to make you triumph in his Salvation.
I proceed to give an Account of the Behaviour of the Condemned Criminals, and what their Preparation was for Death.
On Munday my self with another Minister joyned in Exhortation and Prayer: We stated dearly the nature of Saving Faith, Repentance and Self-denyal, in an hearty intire Resignation to the Will of God, both preceptive, and in his Righteous inflicting of Punishment on Sinners, which they ought to accept to their amendment. Afterwards we took them apart and inquired what Impression was made on their Hearts by our present Discourses; also what hopes they had as to a Blessed Eternity, and how they had led their Lives before they committed these Crimes; some of them were willing to disburden their Consciences of their secret
Sins; others stood out for the present, yet said, That they would acquaint us before the time of Execution.
The Ordinary took these Persons apart, who gave this following Account of themselves.
I. Robert Trumbal, Condemned for Felony and Burglary, confest with much sorrow, That he had broke the Sabbath, was addicted to Drunkenness, to Swearing and Cursing. I replied, That it is not an easie thing to repent from the Heart, having been long accustomed to Vicious Habits. He said, That he was sensible of the deceitfulness of his Heart, but he hoped, if he might live, he should never return to a willful course of sinning. I askt him what Employment he had followed? He said, That he had spent most of his time in Ireland as a Soldier, in the Lord Lisburns Regiment: That for two Years he had laid down that Employment, and coming into England had joyned himself to bad Company; yet he was Innocent as to this Fact for which he is Condemned: But he said, God is Just in suffering this Distress to befall me as a Punishment of my former Iniquities: That he now grieves for offending God, and submits to the sentence of Death, hoping it may be a means to save his Soul.
III. John Wilson was Condemned with Martha Walters, whom he lately married, as he saith. The Woman remained obstinate. They received sentence of Death for Clipping the Currant Coyn of this Nation. I told them what a great dammage it is to the Poor, who having but little Mony cannot so well pass it as others in a Summ. I told them, That God's Justice will more severely persue all such who deface his Image in their Souls, thereby bearing the Superscription of sin and Satan on them. Hereupon he said he had lived very loosely, and for his excesses in lewd courses, did not regard how he got Mony; but now he is sensible how he hath run the hazard of losing his Soul for a little worldly gain and momentary pleasure; saying, That none could redeem it but Christ, in whose Merits he only trusted for Eternal Life. He hearkened to good Instructions and Prayer, so that I hope he was Penitent.
IV. Jane Williams, Condemned for stealing Silver Lace, value 30 s. She confest the Fact, saying, That her Poverty was the occasion of it: That her Husband is at Sea, and provided not for her while at home, so she was forced to work hard for a Livelihood; but not being content with moderate gain, the Devil put it into her Heart to commit this Crime, which she is the more sensible of, because she did not Pray as she ought, against the evil inclinations of her own Heart, but grew, by degrees, negligent of her Duty to God, and followed not her Employment as formerly: That she endeavour now, all that she can, to repent, and to make her peace with God. She wept and said, That she hoped it proceeded from her Heart. I inquired into her fitness for Death; she said that God will not require more Knowledge than he gives. She said that she thankt God she had been kept from visible open prophaneness till the Commission of this Crime; but if she may be spared, she shall endeavour to amend her Life: I hope she was Penitent.
V. Thomas Walters, a notorious High-way-man , Condemned for Robbing one John Hosey, a Bristol Carrier , on Hounslow-heath. His Father and Mother dyed when he was young; his Uncle took care of him, and placed him out to a creditable Employment; but he proved extravagant and left his Station in which he might have done well; he betook himself to bad Company, so growing necessitous, he entred himself into the Earl of Dover's Troop of Guards ; but being weary of that Service, the Pay not answering his excessive ways of spending, he Robbed on the High-way. Considering his present sad Circumstances, he denyed not the greatness of his sins, in special, that he had broken his Vows to God of amendment, and casting off his bad Associates. He said this much afflicts his Conscience, that he continued in his loose Practices, although he several times received the Sacrament, and yet lived not up to so solemn an Obligation of Reformation. I hope he was Penitent as well as awakened from security, by clear and strong Convictions.
VI. John Collet alias Cole, Condemned for Burglary and Sacriledg. He confest at last, that he broke up Great St. Bartholomews Vestry Door, and took out the Plate thence. He said he would discover where some of it lay concealed; whereupon notice was given to one of the Church-wardens to inquire of him how to recover any part of the said Plate, because he would not discover any thing of this nor his wicked Life to the Ordinary. He was much suspected, being a Smith by Trade, to have furnisht Fellons with Bettys and Pick-locks for to break into Houses and Rob. He said, that in general, that he had been a great sinner; but I insisted, that he ought to declare wherein, otherwise his Repentance could not be sincere. I told him that continuing in secret sins is a degree of Atheism, and exposes to publick Crimes, for which the Law of the Nation Condemns that, unless he be reduced to a sense of all sin, chiefly for offending God, who hath in much patience expected his repentance; he cannot get the pardon of his sin, but it will fester in his Conscience, till it be confest in all its Aggravations. Upon this he said, that he had prophaned the Sabbath, had been excessive in drinking, and assisting others in carrying on their wicked Practices.
VII. John Gwin, burnt in the Hand before, Condemned now for stealing a piece of Silk from Mr. Rigby. He much lamented his sinful state, that he did not take warning, but adventured to run into the snares of Death by this last Crime. He said that his Father and Mother dyed when he was young, yet having learnt to write, he kept a School to teach youth ; but he grew idle, and joyned himself to bad Company, which brought him to this untimely Death: particularly, he confest his breaking the Sabbath, and other wicked excesses; but now he repents that he did not reform, as he vowed to God he would when he was three Years since in Newgate: But now he hopes his Heart is truly penitent; that he expects not sparing Mercy, and therefore applys himself with all his might to God, that he would fit him for his Death, that it may not be terrible, but that his distress may be sanctified to the saving of his Soul.
This is all the Account I can give of this Session.
Dated this 16th of July, 1691.
On Friday the 17th Instant, John Collet, John Gwin, Mary Danby, Thomas Walters, and John Wilson, Five of the late Condemned Criminals were all conveyed to Tyburn, Wilson was drawn on a Sledge, Walters in a Coach, the rest in a Cart: when these Five were tyed up, John Wilson, who dyed for Clipping, behaved himself exceeding penitently, expressing himself to this effect: That he had been a very Notorious Offender, Guilty of all sins except Murther, which he said he could not remember that ever he shed Innocent Blood; but the first sin that he began his Wicked Life in, was Lying; then followed Pilfering, Swearing, Whoring, breach of the Sabbath, and a great many more, which he was not able to express; only, says he, I will name Robberies upon the High-way, breaking of Houses, binding of People in their Beds, using them very Inhumanly for their Moneys sake; Crying to God for Mercy for his sins. After this, a little while, he said, That he was in the Company of those that Robbed Captain Shooter, but he did not know how he came by his Death; That he helpt to tye his Hands, and left him there; Adding, That the shame of his Death did not trouble him so much, as what Torment (without Mercy) he should undergo after Death.
John Collet, and Mary Danby did likewise, but were not so much affected seemingly as Wilson was, being very Ignorant of what concerned their Souls, though the Ordinary took pains with them, to convince them.
Then, they being commended to God's Infinite Mercy, they were all turned off.
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