A True Account of the Behaviour, Confessions, and last Dying Speeches of the Condemned Criminals, that were Executed at Tyburn on Wednesday the 3d of this Instant Novem. 1697.
On the Lords-Day, after the Condemnation of the Condemned Criminals, a Sermon was Preached on this Text,
Psal. 32. 2. Blessed is the Man unto whom the Lord imputeth not Iniquity, and in whose Spirit there is no Guile.
The Doctrinal Observation from the Connexion of the Words is this.
THERE must be a right Spirit of Purity formed in the Heart, to take away the falseness of it, in the concealing and extenuating of Sin, before the Lord will Pardon the Condemning Demerit of Sinning.
Sanctifying Grace is the only true Wisdom, which David Petitioned for, that so his Hypocrisy (whereby he had cover'd his Sins) might be Cured. In the very order of Nature, the guiles of sinning are defeated by abominating them, and the loal chastity of the Soul is formed, before the deadly penalty of Sinning is remitted or cancelled. See Scriptural Records for this method of God, in pardoning Sin and Sinners, Acts 2. 3. and Chap. 3. 19. 26 Also, Chap. 5. 30, 31. there it is affirmed, That God gives Christ; first, to be the King of Righteousness, by his divine Power to subdue and sanctify the proud Heart of a Sinner, before he can be in a capacity to lay any Title to Christ as a preistly Saviour, who hath by his Meritorious Death satisfied divine Justice, in order to the sealing the penitent Sinners Pardon.
The Holiness, Wisdom, Justice, yea, the very Goodness of God, require this stated indispensable order of Salvation.
No Prince in Wisdom, will pardon a Rebel while he retains the Heart of a Traytor. The Spirit of Holiness will not set his Seal of pardoning mercy (for comfort) on an hard impenitent Heart. No Man can in Reason think to make the Impression of a Seal on the Water which is gliding away. Such are the fluid Resolutions, sickle and false Purposes of Sinners. That they will turn to God, and reforme the course of their Lives. If God should only pardon a Sinner, and not change his Heart, he would immediately forfeit such a Pardon. Besides in effectual Vocation to God in Christ, we resign sincerely our whole Man in Converting to God, and are made new Creatures: So that Faith, Repentance and universal Obedience, are parts of Regeneration and Sactifying Grace. Also, Christ redeems us from the Malediction of God's Laws, in the same method in which we made our selves sinful and miserable: We first blotted out the Image of God in Holiness; this must first be reinstampt, to make us partakers of the divine Nature, before we can be in any Capacity to have the guiltiness of Sinning not imputed to us, and the penalty of Death for Sinning Remitted; hence St. Paul's meaning, in saying, That God justifies the ungodly, is only this, That the best of Men are ungodly in a lower Degree, as having the Relicks of Sin in them, and therefore not being perfect in their Obedience, these have need of God's continued Act, to justify them in Christ: Even a Regenerate Person upon committing any new Sin, must renew the Acts of his Faith and Repentance, before the Guilt and Defilement of that Sin can be taken away, by the renewed Act of God's Justifying Grace. Indeed a sincere Christian looks upon this to be his chief compleat Blessedness, that he is made Conformable to God in Holiness; he well knows, that this is the Congruous method of God's pardoning Mercy, that it is dispensed with an holy Wisdom, and a just Clemency, so as to preserve the reverend Majesty of his goodness. Thus divine Priviledges follow the Inspiration of Spiritual Life. For the better understanding of this, That Sanctification preceeds Justification; you must distinguish, that there is a two fold Sanctification.
The first is wrought in our Regeneration, which is the infusion of the principles of universal Holiness; this is properly Sanctification, and doth necessarily preceed Justification, as hath been Demonstrated. But that Sanctification which follows Justification, this is the reparation of the decays of Grace, at first infused in Regeneration, and is a continual Renovation of the Image of God, when sullied and defaced. It is properly a deeper rooting or impression of the divine Nature, in a Progressive walking after the Conduct of the Spirit of Holiness; this is a consequent Demonstration of the truth of our Justification. Thus you see that we are justified by Faith in Christ, as the consequential effect of our union to him by the Spirit of Holiness. Faith purifies the Heart, as deriving from union to Christ, the likeness to God in Holiness, before it can pacify or quiet the Conscience in any hope that Sin is pardoned. Thus the Renovation of our corrupt Nature as it is the great design of Christ's Love in dying for us, so it is the chiefest part of our blessedness, in order to eternal Salvation. Therefore that is a false peace in the Conscience, which doth not disturb, yea, mortify the indulgence of corrupt Nature. For the Peace of God in a justifyed Person, rules so strongly in his Heart, that it ejects the dominion of the least lust, and will not suffer any sensuality of the afflictions to controul the Law of Sanctifying Grace. A truly justified person is very studious to get greater Degrees of Purity instampt upon his Heart, to preserve the Seal of his Pardon undefaced, by any wilful Act of Sinning; yea, he will strive to abound in all the fruits of Holiness and Righteousness as the Testimonial of his gratitude to God, not only for sparing the forfeited Life of his Soul, but also, for the Lord's Superlative favour, in adopting him to the Inheritance of Celestial Glory. A truly Justified Person doth not only beg of God to pardon the falseness of his Heart, in the former covering the Guiltiness of Sinning; but he more earnestly prays that God would poise and Cure the fickleness of his Heart, to make him stedfast in his Service. Thus being Reconciled to God in Christ, the truely penitent have the aggrevation of their Sins pardoned, and so blotted out, that no inditement shall start up against such, to implead them at Christ's Tribunal; when the universal frame of Nature shall break and be dissolved with amazing Thunder-claps; yet, such who now Repent and turn to God unfeignedly with their whole Hearts, these shall be refresht with the Smiles of their Judg, who shall turn Advocate in their behalf. He will fortify their Soul with an holy Courage and humble Confidence in the Treasures of his Grace and Mercy. He will not only acquit them as clothed with his perfect Righteousness; but being conformed to him in an holy state, such shall be admitted to reign with Christ, on Thrones of Glory of Eternity.
The conclusion was thus Directed to the Condemned.
How confident are most Men that their Sins are Pardoned, whereas they still continue in their full force of contracted Guiltiness? How absurdly do Men expect that the most upright Judge Eternal, will pardon the condemning Guilt of Sinning altho' the subtile Guiles and flattering Insinuations of their Lusts are fondly indulged? But meer Dreams of Pardoning Mercy will overwhelm the Soul with Terror, when Conscience shall be awakened to charge it self with all the Abominations of Men's Hearts and Lives; yea, the Mercy and Goodness of God would be blemished, if the Lord should promiscuously misplace it on Sinners, while they stout it out in their Rebellion. Yet I fear that you are not Ingenuously willing to have your mistakes in the Concernments of Eternal Life, to be faithfully discovered, & safely rectified, by the sacred Rules of Truth and Holiness. Do not think that meer Consternation and Anguish in your Consciences is sincere Repentance, and the Pangs of the new Birth: This may proceed from the dreading of publick shame, and the smarting Punishment of Sinning, and not from any true sense of the Malignity of the Heart, in Sinning against God, or the defiling effects of it upon the Heart. Faint Skirmishes with corrupt Nature cannot subdue the Propensities of secret Lusting; nor can a short abstinence from Sinning prove that the Love of it is subdued; Have not your Lusts revived in a sharper Paroxysm, upon any trifling temptation of sordid worldly Profit or sensual Pleasure? Besides, that is a false peace of Conscience, which doth not Rule so strongly as to eject the Dominion of every Lust, that it shall not controul the Law of Sanctifying Grace.
Truly Justified Persons maintain a very strict watchfulness, to preserve the integrity of the new Creature, that it be not Impaired. These are studious to strengthen the vigorous Constitution, of their Souls in Holiness, that it may not languish, and that the beautiful frame of Sanctifying Grace
may not be sullied. Take heed therefore, lest you should presume that your Sins are Pardoned, because you declame against them, while you are under the terrible Arrest of Death; when as if your Lives should be spared, you would adventure to dye in the embraces of your Lusts, upon the renewing of their Sollicitations: To prevent this, beg of God, That you may abandon with perfect hatred those works of darkness, in which you have abounded, having been Subtile in the contriving and extenuating them.
Oh! that the Mysteries of Godliness may be so discovered to you that these may sink deeply in your Heart, to rectify them thorowly, in an Sincere Consecration of them to the Lord; Sek the compleatness of Righteousness in Christ to Justice you and the Sanctifying Graces of his Spirit to change your corrupt Nature. Then you may entertain lively hopes of blessedness in God's Celestial Kingdom.
Aspire to this state, wherein there is not any possibility of Guiltiness, Guiles, nor Pollution in the Heart, but Sincerity and purity, reigning in their highest perfection to Eternity.
I proceed to give an Account of the Behaviour and Confessions of the Condemned Criminals.
I. HEnry Allen, Condemned for robbing on the Highway. I do acknowledge, (said he) That for my many and great Sins, (by which I provok'd the Lord) he urly hath brought the Sentence of Death upon Me. He said, That by his acquiring the skilful use or his Pen, he was fit for to be a Clerk to a Counceller at Law; and had Religious Education, but did not improve it in his walking suitably thereunto (yet his carriage was not given to the heighth of Wickedness.) He confest. That he had Sinned against the Convictions and Remorse of his Conscience, which made his Sins to be the greater; That he had mispent much precious time in Vanity. But now, (said he) I hope it is the sincere desire of my Heart to please God; and were I to live, I would not willingly depart from him, but would watch against all Temptations of sinning, that I might serve the Lord, and employ my self in an honest way to get a livelihood.
II. William Betts, Condemned for robbing on the Highway. He said, That he had been a Clerk to a Counceller ; but leaving his Service, he was exposed to an idle Life; that he is much troubled now, That he spent his Time amiss in bad Company, and that he did not strictly observe the Duties of the Christian Sabbath, which would have kept an awe upon his Heart, not to adventure on such sinful Courses, for which, he said, That he now justly suffers.
III. Thomas Cotterel, Condemned for Coining false Money. He did not deny the Crime. He formerly kept a Tavern ; and said, That the entertainment of Persons in his house on the Lord's Day, made him sometimes join with them in drinking Intemperately. He said, That he had known his Duty to God, but did not obey his Will; which now as much afflicts him, as that he must dye.
IV. Joseph Forster, Condemned for robbing on the Highway. He said, That his Friends left him a good Estate, but he squandred it away in vain Expences; That he observed not the worship of God on his holy Day; that he had been too much given to Swearing, and excess in Drinking with bad Company.
V. Thomas Houghton, Condemned for Counterfeiting Stampt Paper. He was a Person of knowledg in the matters of Religion, and said, That this hath aggravated his Sins; that he committed them against the clear and strong Convictions of his Conscience to the contrary; that he kept Company with bad Women before he married; and acknowledged, That for his evil Life, God suffered the Sentence of Death to fall upon him He was very attentive to the Instructions and Prayers, which were used to prepare him for a fit going out of the World, and to obtain the future estate of Blessedness.
VI. Francis Cook, Condemned for Counterfeiting Stampt Paper. He was a broad Silk-Weaver , and said, That he had drove a great Trade for some thousands of Pounds per annum; but he had contracted great Debts, by trusting insolvent Persons and was brought to extream Poverty, which inclined him to join with Thomas Houghton in Counterfeiting stampt Paper. He said, That he had been a Change Broker and got Money by it; but Drunkenness and bad Company caused him not to mind the Duties of the Lord's Day, which exposed him to commit many other Sins. He was very Penitent, and yet, said, That he distrusted his Heart as to the Sincerity of it; but he Prayed to God to work in him an hatred of all Sin, chiefly for offending him and grieving his holy Spirit.
VII. Francis Salisbury, Condemned for stampt Paper. He was born in Worcester City; had Religious Education, and was a student in Divinity ; a Person of excellent acquired Knowledge, as well as Natural quick Understanding. He was very Penitent, and said, That he had sinned against the Convictions of his Conscience, and that he had brought a reproach on his Function, which, he said, That he could not expiate but by special Degrees of a more than ordinary Repentance; that if he must dye, he submitted to the Will of God, hoping that he would Sanctify his fatal Stroke to the saving of his Soul.
VIII. Francis Exon, alias Gains, Condemned for Stealing a Gelding. He was an Husband-man in Surry. He said, That he was tempted to commit this Crime, but did not express by whom; yet he acknowledged that for half a Year past, he had followed a vain course of Living. He seemed Penitent.
IX. Richard Talent, Condemned for picking a Pocket. He denied not the Crime, neither was he so sensible of it as he ought to have been. He said, That he was not bred up to any employment, because he had been very disobedient to his Parents. I told him that this heinous Sin is sadly Reflected on, as exposing Persons to a shameful untimely Death, which many acknowledge who suffer Publickly.
On Wednesday the third of Novevber 1697. Francis Cook, Henry Allen, and Thomas Houghton, were convey'd to Tyburn in a Cart, where they were ty'd up, Houghton owned his fact, and exprest his sorrow for the Guilt of his Crime, and desired all the People to take warning by him; to follow good Courses, and be obedient to the Commandments of God, and not to commit the lest Sin, whereby to enrich themselves, for thereby it would put them under Repentance, but to have a due regard of the lest breach thereof. He seemed to be penitent, and acknowledged the Justice of the Law. Francis Cook owned his ct, saying very little, and desired the Prayers of all good People. Henry Allen owned his Crime, saying, That he was sorry for the Fact which he had committed, and begged of God to have Mercy upon his Soul. Sometime after they were ty'd up, Mr. Saisbury the Minister came in a Mourning Coach, attended with two Ministers; and being brought into the Cart, he fell upon his Knees and prayed for a considerable Time by himself, and afterwards he willingly join'd in Prayer with the Church prayer: He did not say much, declaring that it was not his purpose to speak when he came there. He acknowledged his Crime, and the justness of the Law. And being ty'd up, They were turned off. About an Hour after, the Sherriff of Middlesex and his Officers, brought the Bodies of Thomas Cotterel, alias Cockeril, and John Ripley, alias Rapley on a Sledge; and being tied up, each of them owned their Facts, but Rapley said little. And Cotterel begged of God to forgive him his Sins; and owned likewise, That he had been in Newgate formerly. After Prayers and a Penitental Psalm, They were turn'd off.
This is all the Account that I can give of this Sessions.
Dated Novem. 3.
LONDON, Printed for E. Mallet, in Nevil's-Court in Fetter-lane, 1697