A True Account of the Behaviour, Confessions, and last Dying Speeches of the Condemned Criminals, that were Executed at Tyburn on Wednesday the 22d. of this Instant Decem. 1697.
On the Lords-Day, after the Condemnation of the Condemned Criminals, a Sermon was Preached on this Text,
John 9. 4. I must work the works of him that sent me. while it is day: The night cometh that no man can work.
In these words you have three Parts.
1st. THE necessity which lay on Christ, in the deep and serious sense of his duty, to do whatsoever he could, to promote the Glory of his Father, in fulfilling the office of our Redemption, committed to his trust.
2dly. You have the nature of those works, which Christ was so careful to fulfil; they were not works of Curiosity, but of Indispensible worth; Christ considered the eminency of their Nature, and the Weightiness of their Consequence: He was the Agent of his Father, sent to make Reconciliation 'twixt him and Sinners, by his perfect fulfilling the whole Moral Law of God as our surety, and by dying as a Sacrifice of Atonement, to expiate the Guilt of our Sins.
3dly, Christ knew that when his set time was at an end, he must return to his Father, to state or clear his Accounts, how he had fulfilled his Office. In like manner, we must consider our relation to God, and the end or design he hath in sending us into this World, to quicken us in the Prosecution of our Christian Services.
2dly, Our appointed Works must not end till our Life be determined.
3dly, As we must continue at our work, so we must take the fittest Season for it: This makes it beautiful and successful. The Lord of Life hath placed us within the Limits of time, and commanded us to work out our Salvation, with fear and the utmost degree of diligence, otherwise, eternal Darkness shall surprize us, and overwhelm us with horror.
Here I shall instance in what respects Death is compared to the Night.
1st. This is usually the time of Enemies surprizing us, and of laying snares to take the Prey; for Satans chief spight against us is seen in the hour of Death, when we are least upon the watch, and our Spiritual Comforts Clouded, Psalm. 104. 20. Therefore, put on the Armour of Light and Righteousness, before you come to conflict with the King of terrors.
2dly. Men grope in the Night, and wander out of the way like drunken Men, Job 12. 35. Thus the wicked seldom think of God till dying; but then they know nothing distinctly of him, to support their troubled Consciences; their Spirits wander from one false Confidence to another, till they drop into Hell, to convince them of their Security and Self-flattery.
3dly, The Night Season varies our Apprehension of the Formes of things, so that we cannot distinctly and truly percieve them. So in the dismal darkness of Death, our Hearts have no fit leasure to instruct us in the solemn preparation for a blessed Eternity: Then they begin to upbraid us with Folly, because we would not be convinced of the worth of Christ, nor of the vanity of the Creature, which by the false multiplying Glass of Prosperity we so highly magnified.
4y The night binds up all the senses from working: So death puts an end to the improvement or all the means of Grace.
5ly, As Men lay down at Night, just such they rise in the Morning. So no Regenerate state of Sanctification can be wrought in the Heart after death; whatever depravity cleaves to the Soul, in the state of separation from the Body, with the same it rises and comes to Judgment. The doctrine from the scope of our Saviour, is this, That the only time which Men have to provide for the eternal Salvation of their Souls, is the time of this present Life. Many Arguments were given to demonstrate this
But I descend to the Practical Improvement of this Truth, That after the night of Death, there cannot be any working for Salvation: How miserable then is the state and condition of all such, who neglect the main business for which they were sent into this World? What Folly and Madness is this, that Sinners work out their Damnation with greediness, as if they were Covetous of treasuring up divine Wrath against the Day of Wrath? How will such Condemn themselves? I have had but a Dream of Delight, in sensual Pleasures which hath bereav'd me of real Blessedness.
What a Mad exchange have I made, to gain the sordid profits of this World? I have utterly ruined my precious Heaven-born Soul; But was not this the choice of mine own wilfulness? Was I in Love with Damnation, that I did so obstinately resist the Beseechings of God's holy Spirit, that I would reform my Life? Oh! the labour which it costs obstinate Sinners to ruin their own Souls to Eternity Oh! think of this, you that forget and forsake the Lord; Who knows the power of his Wrath, but only himself who lives for ever to inflict i on all such who abuse his long suffering, to hardon their Hearts in all Impiety? And yet, the very flames of Hell cannot melt down the Pride and Stoutness of the finally impenitent: Now the Spirit of wickedness more deeply possesses them. All the restraints of God's Spirit are now taken off; the damned are arrived to an obstinate Confirmation, in a consummate state of sinning; this is the very Curse intailed upon the Devils, yea, the very Hell of Hells. How dreadful will death be to all such who despise the offers of Life and Salvation by Christ, upon the equitable and advantageous Terms and Conditions thereof? Surely their damnation slumbers not, tho' themselves be overwhelm'd with deep Atheistical security: To such I may say, the night of Death draws on apace. Therefore redeem your lost mispent working seasons for eternal Life, out of the Hands of Sin and Satan. Thus shall you deceive the destroyer of Souls. Great things depend on every moment of our Lives, yet we bring them to an end, as a tale which is told. Do not persist in provoking God, to cut short your Lives by playing Truants in Wisdom's School of Discipline. At what expence of Mercy and Patience is God, in renewing the Seasons of Nature and Grace? yet you have perversly abused the gracious design of both. As soon as you were Baptized God hired you into his Vineyard, why then do you loiter and still fold your hands, in your Bosom, as if you studied to be be idle; and it were a vertue to neglect your Duty, yet, as the shadows of the Sun are longest, when he is nearest to his setting; so Sinners are Presumptuously confident, that the seasons of Grace will be renewed and continued, altho' they trifle with God in the great concernments of his honour, and their own everlasting Felicity. Consider, that you are not sure of the next Moment; therefore, incessantly watch, pray, and work, as for the eternity of Blessedness. Young and Old, agree quickly with God, that he may not continue your Adversary, by delaying of Repentance. The work of your Salvation is of great Importance; be you very cautious and curious about it, for when once it is taken out of your Hands, there is no amendment of any defect in the Contexture of your Obedience. Repel all Temptations to Sinning by this wise consideration, That the fulfiling a Course in wickedness is not the business for which God sent you into this World: You may dye in the present Moment of Contracting Guilt, and will you draw the wrath of God upon your Souls, while you make a sport of sinning? Seneca speaks of some who were always about to Live, yet they never lived in good earnest, so as to Reform their Conversation. Trust not therefore to slight Transient resolutions of turning to God; Hell is full of faint wishes, yea, of pretended purposes of Amendment: Therefore dread sinful Security, as the borders of Hell, for thereby the the severity of God's Wrath is poured out on impenitent Persons, as Sealing them up to eternal Torments. Strive to Redeem the lost seasons of Grace, by redoubling of your Industry. If you finish the great work given you in charge while it is an accepted time with God, he will not desert you. but will conduct you safely thorow the extremities of Death, if you turn to the Lord with your whole Heart, death shall not be any terror to you, but a time of refreshing when Christ shall come to judge the secure World to Ignominious Torments, without any intermission, or allay of Mercy. That this may not be your intolerable state, Redeem every Moment as precious. This will be a clear evidence that you shall be acquitted at Christs Tribunal, and not be delivered over to the pangs of eternal Death.
I proceed to give an Account of the Behaviour and Confessions of the Condemned Criminals.
I. John Reeve, Condemned for being Accessory, before and after, to a Burglary Committed by Elizabeth Barrenclough. He was an Iron-monger in Felsted in Essex, but was forced by some Debts to desert his House; yet afterwards traded in the Country. He Confest that he had been of an evil Life, and was sometimes drunk, and did Swear in that time; that he went not to the publick Assemblies of God's Worship, for want of decent Cloths, and to decline being Arrested for Debt; and that before, he neglected to pray that God would preserve him from indulging his most beloved Sin; that he kept lewd Women Company: And thus God suffered him to be guilty of many Extravagances, because he lest off to Cohabit with his own Wife.
II. John Norcot, Condemned for being Accessary to the forementioned Burglary. He lived in Westminster, and was a Water-man , and rowed a Boat on the Thames thirty Years. He said, That he kept not the Sabbath, and omitted the recieving the Sacrament of the Lord's-Supper, which would have obliged him to have declined the Commission of many Sins; such as Drunkenness, Swearing and Undutifulness to his Mother.
III. Richard Downs, Condemned for Murdering William Houseman. Aged thirty Years. He was born in Shropshire, and was employed in Husbandry ; but this being unsuitable to his Mind, he listed himself to be a Soldier . He confest the Murther, but said, That he was very much drunk when he did it. I told him. That this was no extenuation, but an aggravation of his Crime, as leading him to it. He said, That he prophaned the Lord's-Day, was guilty of Swearing and had been disobedient to his Mother.
IV. William Wilson, Condemned for Coining false Money. He said, That he had been well Educated; but he Repents that he did not follow his Parents good Counsel and Example. That he was often drunk, and kept lewd Women Company, and that he knew two or three Women by committing unclean Acts on them.
V. Edward Weeks, Condemned for Robbing on the High-way. He said, That his Father had been too indulgent of him, and that he abused his Kindness in betaking himself to evil Courses; that he did not observe the duties of the Christian-Sabbath; that he was Guilty of Swearing, and frequenting the Company of bad Women, which had brought him to this untimely Death. He confest that being used to an ill Life, he robbed on the High-way; but denied that he at any time Wounded any Man.
VI. William Hollyday, Condemned for Robbing on the High-way. He confest it, and said, That he had used it formerly; That he prophaned the Sabbath, and that he was Guilty of all sins, only Murther excepted.
VII. John Hill, Condemned for Coining false Money. Aged twenty seven Years. He was born in Coventry, and was an Iron-monger in Bromingham four Years. He confest that he broke the Sabbath, was guilty of Swearing and Drunkenness; and was undutiful to his Parents.
VIII. Charles Harding, Condemned for Picking the Pocket of Richard Hucer. Aged nineteen Years. He was born in Liecestershire. He confest, that joining himself to evil Company, he had committed many heinous Sins against God.
X. James Frimly, Condemned for Robbery. Aged twenty seven Years. He was bound Apprentice to a Cooper in Worcestershire. He confest that he spent the Sabbath very ill; that he had robbed on the High-way, and been very lewd with Women, and had been guilty of all Sins; but not of Murther.
XI. John Shorter, Condemned for robbery. Aged seventeen Years. He was born in West-Chester, and was pren to a Butcher : he dying, Shorter went to Sea , but continued not in that employment, so he grew idle and fell into this robbery, being also guilty of Sabbath-breaking, Swearing and Drunkenness.
XII. Elizabeth Barnclouf, Condemned for Burglary. Mary Seager, and Mary Potter, Condemned for Burglary and Robbery, pleaded that they were quick with Children, and the Jury of Women giving in their Verdict that it was so, they thereupon are Respited, till they are delivered from their Child bed condition; but they are so secure, that they came to the Chappel only on the Lord's-day, and made no confession of their evil Lives.
On Wednesday the 22d of December, 1697. William Wilson, John Hill, Richard Downs, William Hollyday, James Freemly, John Reeves, Thomas Smith, and John Shorter, were convey'd to Tyburn, The two first on a Sledge, and the rest in three Carts. The Persons being brought to the Tree, were ty'd up. William Wilson owned his Crime, and said, He had been a great Sinner, did not regard the Sabbath, and was intemperate; and desired all Christian People to pray for him. John Hill owned his Crime; seemed very Penitent, and desired all good People to take warning by his untimely Death. Richard Downs did not deny the Crime for which he was to die; and said, he was in drink, to which he was much addicted; was guilty of breaking the Sabbath Day, and of too frequent Cursing and Swearing; seemed very Penitent. William Hollyday owned the Crime for which he was to die; and said, That he and one Baillam now in Newgate, and another person, were all three together at a Robbery lately, when they killed a Carrier; he said, he had been a great Sinner, and did not regard the Sabbath: He desired the Prayers of all Christian People; and seemed very Penitent. James Freemly owned his Crime, and said, he had been a great Sinner, but hoped God would pardon him: He seemed very Penitent. John Reeves did not deny his Crime, and said, he had kept bad Company, was guilty of Adultery, Sabbath breaking, Cursing and Swearing. He desired all good People to pray for him; not to be prevailed upon by ill Company, and to take warning hy his untimely Death. He seemed extraordinary Penitent. Thomas Smith owned his Crime; said, he had been a great Sinner; had neglected to go to Church, was much addicted to Intemperance, Cursing and Swearing; and desired all good People to pray for him, and to take warning by his untimely Death. John Shorter owned his Crime; said, that he knew of the Murther of one Lorimer in Newgate, about two years and a half ago, but was prevailed upon by one Tokefield and Jo. Hart not to discover it, and said, that the latter carried the bloody Knife three Days together in his Pocket. He said, that on Tuesday last he verily believed he saw Lorimers Ghost as he was at Prayers in the Chappel at Newgate, which put him into a great Consternation; which being observ'd by the Minister who assisted him, and asking him the reason of his trouble, occasioned this Confession. The Ordinary and another Minister Pray'd with them for some considerable time, and sung a Penitental Psalm; and afterwards they were turn'd off.
This is all the Account that I can give of this Sessions, tho' my self and my eldest Son visited the Condemned Criminals every Day,
Dated Decem. 22.
Physick truly Practiced.
BY Dr. Kirleus, Sworn Physician in ordinary to K. Charles the II. many Years, until his Death, but first a Collegiate Physician of London: Who, with a Drink and Pill, hindring no business, undertakes to Cure all Ulcers, Sores, Scabs, Itch, Scurff, Leporsies, and Ueneral Diseases at all times of the Year, in all Bodies, expecting nothing if he Cures not; of rhe lest he hath Cured many hundreds in this City, many of 'em after Fluxing, which raiseth the Evil from the lower Parts, and fixing it in the Head, and so destroys many. The Drink is 3s, the Quart, the Pills 1s. a Box, with Directions; a better Purger than which was never given, for they cleanse the Body of all Impurities, which are the cause of Dropsies, Gouts, Scurvies, Stone or Gravel, pains in the Head and other Parts. Take heed whom you trust in Physick, for it's be come a Common Cheat to profess it. He gives his Opinion to all that Write or come for Nothing; and if they truly write their Distemper and Age, he fits hem with a Medicine as well as if present. He lives in Grays-InnLane in Plough-Yard. at the Glass Lanthorn.
LONDON, Printed for E. Mallet, in Nevil's-Court in Fetter-lane, 1697.