Samuel Moodey's ACCOUNT Of the Indian Executed at York, June 29. 1726.
Summary Account of the LIFE and DEATH OF Joseph Quasson, Indian;
Who on the 28.Day of August 1725.at Arundel in the County of York, & Province of Main, in New-England, Shot his Fellow-Soldier and Kinsman, John Peter; So that he died of the Wound in a few Days. For which Murder being Apprehended, Tried, and after Conviction, condemned at York in the Province aforesaid, on the 12th of May following ; he was there Executed on the 29th of June, 1726.
By Samuel Moodey, M.A.
Pastor to the Church in York.
BOSTON, Printed for S. Gerrish, the lower End of Cornhill. 1726.
An Account of the Life and Death of Joseph Quasson, Indian, &c.
We begin with the Account which the Prisoner gave of himself, not many Days before his Execution, which Relation was taken from his Mouth by a faithful and careful Scribe; after the Relator had expressed Reluctancy in such Terms as these--To tell the World, said he, what a stupid hardned Creature I have been! What will they say? There's a wicked Wretch gone to Hell!--But being told God might yet do more for him, to be added to the Account afterwards; and that the Communication of these Things to be published, might be for the Glory of God and good of Souls; he consented, and in Answer to various and suitable Questions propounded to him, as there was found Occasion. He said--
I was born at a Place called Monamoy, March 28. 1698. Lived with my Parents six Years; Then my Father died five Pounds in Debt to Mr. Samuel Sturges of Yarmouth. I was bound out to him by my Mother on that Account; where I was, as soon as possible, instructed in Reading and in my Catechism. My Mistress used to tell me, I must never Sin, for, Hell was a dreadful Place, where the Workers of Iniquity must go. I had then great Fear of Sin, I thought it was a dreadful Thing to tell a wilful Lye, and I don't remember that I then allowed my self in any external Way of Wickedness; such as Lying, Swearing, Stealing, &c, which was from the Restraints of God upon me. When I have heard the Lord's Name taken in vain by Children, I have reproved them for it; and told them it was a Sin. When I was about thirteen Years old, I had the Care of my Master's Warehouse: I was tempted by some young 'Prentices to steal Powder for them; but I refused, yet I remember I suffered some of them to do it, which troubled me afterwards.
I never drank to Excess, till I eighteen Years old, when I was once overtaken, but I had not got an Habit of it, till my Time was out with my Master: I was always under such a strict and regular Government Night and Day, that I had no Opportunity for it.--I used in the Time of my Service, oftentimes to have thought of another World; and used to be concerned about getting ready for Death. I used to Read and think of Praying to God; but thought I could I could not do that, nor did I ever pray by my self, till I came into this Prison. I was obliged constantly to hear the Word preached, whilst with my Master; and was often much affected. I loved to hear the Word, and continued to do so 'till I gave way to Company and Drinking; which was soon after I had my Freedom. I went from my Master very well clothed, and had, among other things, a new Bible given me. I work'd a little, at first; but grew Idle, and took to Spending, and sold my Cloaths and other Things; and even my Bible, to maintain my Lusts. My Drunkenness hurt my Conscience very much at first; but after a while all was quiet: I could sin without remorse; and when I had brought my self into a poor and ragged Condition, I left the English Meeting through Shame, where I always used to appear well clothed: I went to the Indian Meeting (where I understood nothing) only to save my Fine.
Thus I went on in my Wickedness 'till the Spring of the Year 1725. without any serious Reflection; Then I had Thoughts running in my Mind, especially after I had been overtaken with Drink, as if one had spoken to me; if I did not leave off this Practice, it would quickly bring me to Ruin. It was a Warning, I suppose: but it had little Effect. I could not (because I would not) cease from Sin, (This was after I came out to the Eastward, a Soldier) I was more and more settled, hardned and so, quiet in my sinful Courses 'till the Fact was committed, for which I must die. About three Weeks before I killed the Man, I had, one Day, a Thought come into my Mind, That I had been guilty of all manner of Sin, I could then think of none that I was free from, but the Sin against the Holy Ghost, and I did not know but I had committed that too: But then I thought of the Sin of Murder, which I had not, outwardly, committed. Now I have committed that Sin too.
I was at Work with a Man at Cape Porpus, about a Fort'ni't before I killed John Peter, and in Discourse, he asked me, what I tho't of my self--and if the Indians should kill me, whither I thought I should go. I answered him, That I should go to Hell, besure. He asked me, Why? I reply'd, Because I should have no Time to consider and Repent. And I remember I then thought, if I had but Time, I should find it no hard Matter to Repent. And so after I was apprehended, and began to think I must Die; I tho't and said, I hoped God would give me Time to Repent, but I had no Sense that God must also give me an Heart to Repent. I was about six Days in Prison before I heard of the Death of the Indian. I spent my Time in reading the Bible and other good Books (and indeed I was wont often to read before this) but never Prayed before my Imprisonment, nor after, 'till the dreadful News that John Peter was dead of his Wounds, came to my Ears--. Then I was greatly terrified and amazed with the Apprehensions of Death, which I thought was coming on me, and I did not know how soon. My Thoughts were much disturbed: I then prayed as well as read; but I knew not what I said, I was so confused. These Terrors I thought did me more Hurt than Good; and I strived, when I could, to get them out of my Mind; so that, after a while, I was more easy, yet not unconcerned, besure, --and the more concerned because I thought, being a poor Indian and in a strange Place, especially in a Time of War; People would be little concerned about me. However, I thought there was a Minister in Town, and if he were a good Man he would have Compassion on my Soul: I sent for him; he told me among other Things, That I must aggravate and not extenuate my Sin: I thought if I did so, I should run distracted: But after the Confusion was a little off my Mind, I could read and pray more calmly; and I found many Places of Scripture that encouraged me to be seeking: However, I found my Heart continued so hard, that I could not repent. When I first went to Meeting, which was within a Sabbath or two after my first Confinement, I was mightily affected and my Heart seemed to relent: I tho't I got a great deal of Good: This continued every Sabbath, for more than two Months, Afterwards my Heart seemed hard and senseless; but not always alike; sometimes it seemed as if I got some Good, and sometimes none. However, I was very diligent, reading and praying, not without great Affection at Times,--till the last of February; from which Time I had a Fellow Prisoner for many Weeks together; which was a great Hindrance to me: He was continually, whilest awake, either singing or full of vain or profane Talk. I then left off Prayer, which I had constantly practiced four or five Months before; and commonly seven or eight Times in a Day. At last, I had no Desire to pray, and neglected going to Meeting; though still I read more or less, every Day, the whole Time of my Confinement; and for the most part several Hours in a Day. When I had again the Advantage of being alone, I thought I must betake my self to Prayer, as before, but found my self much at a Loss: it seemed dreadful to come before God again, after I had, for so long a Time, left off Prayer! I went to Meeting, but found my Heart harder, than at the worst, before; I could not think that I got any manner of Good, for the most part: Sometimes I should seem a little affected, but nothing as at first. I should sometimes have hard Thoughts why should God leave me to be guilty of Murder, --but then I thought, he left David to fall into the same Sin.
After I was condemned, I was more concerned: I have continued, ever since, seeking to God and waiting on him in the Use of all Means, publick and private. I find my Heart is very bad: I have no Good in me. Some Time ago, I was thinking, though I had no true Love to Christ, yet I did not hate him: but, on Examination, I discovered plainly that I had Hatred in my Heart against Christ; which was very terrifying to me. I am thoroughly convinced, now, though I thought otherwise at first, that I am so far from having any Power to change my Heart, that I have no Will to any thing that is Good; nor can I raise up one good Desire in my Heart. I am very stupid and unaffected! I have been sometimes almost ready to despair: but I have still some Hope that God may be gracious to me: I am resolved by his Grace to seek to the last; and if I perish, after all, I think I am thoroughly convinced that God is righteous; for he owes me nothing. All the Encouragement I have is from the Death and Righteousness of Christ Jesus, which is sufficient to save me; and form the powerful Grace of God which can change my heart in a Moment,
Thus having quitted his vain Confidence, and conceived an humble, evangelical Hope in the Mercy of God, the Merits of Christ and the al-conquering Power of the Spirit of Grace; his Hope sensibly to himself, and apparently to others, increased more to the last.
He had been, at Times, on the very brink of Despair, and spoken desperate Words: He would sometimes speak with an Air of Disdain, That such a Sinner as he should be saved! And as tho' 'twere unreasonable that he should cherish the least Hope of it. Yet was he constrained to hope in the Divine Al-sufficiency; having a very distinct Understanding of the way of Salvation, by learning the Catechism in his Childhood and early Youth; by his constant Attendance on the Ministry for many Years together; by his natural Love to Reading, from first to last, and by his great Diligence therein whilest a Prisoner; together with personal Instructions by a good number of Visitants; who also furnished him with Variety of the most suitable Books, lesser and larger; all or most of which he deliberately read over; and some of them not once only nor twice; Fox of Time and the End of Time, and Mr. Stoddard's Guide to Christ; with Charnock of Man's Enmity against God; and God's Mercy to the worst of Men, were peculiarly blessed to him for his Awakening, Conviction, Humiliation, Direction and Incouragement.--Examples also, peculiarly that of Esther Rogers, her signally marvelous Conversion and triumphant Death, after repeated Murthers dreadfully aggravated, were of special Use to him. Whilest Thousands of Prayers were going up for him, in hundreds of Families and many scores of Congregations: For there was (in the seven Weeks which his merciful Judges allowed him after his Sentence) Oppurtunity, at the condemned Man's desire, by Word or Writing to bespeak a publick Remembrance for him of more than an hundred Ministers of four Provinces and Colonies. And there seemed to be much of the Spirit of Prayer in a good number, moving them to strive together and apart for his Conversion: And the poor Soul had a sort of unaccountable, but unconquerable Expectation that the Lord might convert him at last; and was for the most part, fixed in his resolved Purpose to be seeking and waiting to the last Day, Hour, and Minute of his Time: But yet very sensible, that unless the Lord gave him an Heart thus to seek and wait, he could do neither, as the following Discourse had betwixt the Prisoner and one that visited him, about ten Days before his Execution, may serve to shew; as also to confirm what was before declared, viz. That though for the most part he was a Prisoner of Hope (and Zech. 9. 11, 12. was one Prop to his Hope) yet was he sometimes almost ready to Despair.
Visitant. How is it with you now Joseph?
Prisoner. In a miserable Condition! Hastning out of the World, and I fear going to Hell--But 'tis no matter how soon I die; for then I shall commit no more Sin.
Vis. If you go to Hell you'll blaspheme God.
Pris. The longer I live, the greater measure of Sin and Wrath is filling up--I'm weary of living to sin so--.
Vis. I'm afraid Joseph, you don't know or consider what it is to go to Hell.
Pris. Yes, I have a Sense of it now, and am willing to receive my Deserts.
Vis. god does not require it of his Creatures that they should be willing to be miserable for ever.
Pris. What shall I do? Christ has said, Except ye repent, ye shall perish. I find I can't repent, I can do nothing but sin: And I had better die--. Ministers say, There's great Hope of me: I can't imagine what Grounds they have to hope for me.
Vis. As long as there is Life, there, is Hope; and you must be found in the Use of Means: The Lord indeed is at his Liberty whether he will save you or not: He is not bound to give you Grace: But remember what Christ said to the Woman of Samaria; If thou knewest the Gift of God, --thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living Water. You can't expect to receive without Asking.
Pris. I have had many Books, and have read much, --but I don't see that I'm a lot the better.
Vis. O, you must not leave off by all Means: The Life of your Soul depends on it. -- I hope you have not left off Prayer.
Pris. No, I hav'n't left off -- but what will such Prayers avail? -- 'Tis said, They shall loath themselves in their own sight for all their Abominations: I don't loath my self for my Sins. The Promise is to them that hunger and thirst after Righteousness: but 'tis not so with me --.
Vis. But God can work all this in you when he pleaseth, -- you must wait on him.
Pris. I am not willing to be saved in God's way.
Vis. God can make you willing in the Day of his Power: --Christ is exalted to give Repentance and Remission of Sins, both. Don't you desire that he would do it for you?
Pris. I have no right Desires.
Vis. Christ that raised Lazarus from the Grave; and God that raised Christ from the Dead, can raise your Dead Soul. -- But the Kingdom of Heaven Suffereth Violence, and the Violent take it by Force. You must stir up yourself to do all that possibly may or can be done -- You read and pray, --- Can't you pray and cry more earnestly for Mercy, for your perishing Soul? And do it as sincerely as you can.
Pris. I have no such Thing as Sincerity in me.
Vis. -- Whilst you are waiting on God in the Ways of his Appointment, he can make you sincere.
---- Then the Prisoner took his Bible, that he had from the beginning of his Imprisonment read much in, and wherein he had scores of Leaves turned down. He opened it and shewed the Woman that was now talking with him, several places in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, &c. that he had been trying to take Incouragement from. One of them was, Psal. 119. 18, 19. Open thou mine Eyes, that I may see the wondrous things out of thy Law. I am a stranger in the Earth, hide not thy Commandments from me.
This Talk was before he gave his Relation, although that was first inserted, because it begins with his Birth and Education, His talk had been much in this Strain to others that had visited him. Some few Days before his Death, One that had himself been much exercised with Atheistical Thoughts, asked the Prisoner, Whether he believed that there is a God? He answered. Yes, but I don't know him, have no Acquaintance with him, am an utter Stranger to him. The same Person asked him at another Time, Whether he repented. He said he could not repent. You will not repent said the good Man. He consented and owned that he had no Will to repent.
He was asked by another, How he knew that he was in an unconverted Estate: His Answer was, That he had no Faith in Christ. Query, How do you know that? Answ. Because Faith works by Love, and I have no Love to that which is good. Q. What do you think would convert you? A. Besure not all the means in the World: It must be God alone. Q But what will God do, or what must be done by him in order to your Conversion? A. I never had the gloriousness of Christ discovered to me, yet: If ever I be converted I shall have Christ revealed to my Soul, and that will convert me at once.
Once he thus expressed his Sense of the Greatness and Difficulty of the work of Conversion, or a thorough turning from the Evil of their way that Sinners have been accustomed to, says he, such an one (naming one of his own Nation) came to me t'other Day, and desired me to give him Warning, I did warn him from my Example to beware of the Sin of Drunkenness. He went away, seemingly, resolved to take Warning: But 'twas not long before he came again to the Jayle, and was in Drink when he came. So that (says Joseph) when I am hanged, and if twenty more should, by their Drunkenness, bring themselves to the same woful End, yet the rest will not take Warning. He was asked what Advantage, then it would have been to him, might he have been acquitted and set at Liberty on his Trial, or to have a Pardon, if that were attainable. He acknowledged 'twould most probably, have been his Ruine, yea, he express'd his Fears lest, after all, Iniquity would be his Ruine. But said, he had much more Hope of being brought to Repentance by his Confinement and certain Expectation of Death, than he could otherwise have. Nay, he spake as if he could have no Hope at all that he should have any Heart to improve his Liberty unto a Reformation of his former Life, though his Life might be given him on that Condition. And therefore would often be ready to say, in Answer to Questionings and Expostulations about these things, -- That it was better for him to die, than to live. The Death of the Body, said he, is nothing, were it not for the second Death.
He was, both before, and after his Condemnation, full of his Complaints about his Darkness, Deadness and hardness of Heart: He would say he had an Heart like a Devil; and was free to acknowledge that having hardened his own Heart, by neglecting the means of Grace for so many Years together, after his Time was out with his Master, and going on wilfully in Sin, particularly the Sin of Drunkenness, for more than seven Years together. God might justly, now, give him up to blindness of Mind; and hardness of Heart, to his eternal Ruine. And thus by a full Discovery of his utter Inability to help himself, and extream Unworthiness to obtain help from the LORD, he was brought by a mighty work of the Spirit, discovering also to him the Sovereign Right of Dominion God had over him, as to Body and Soul, for Time and Eternity, he was constrained to surrenderhimself up into the LORD's Hands, to be disposed of according to his Will and Pleasure: Justifying God however he should please to deal with him.
He had justifyed God and Man in the Verdict and Sentence: had acknowledged and admired the Mercy, as well as Equity of his Judges, in the fair Trial he had. He said to one of the Ministers, that if one of the Judges, himself, should have been Tried for his Life, he could not have had a fairer Trial. And how express and ready was he in his Answer to the usual Question before the pronouncing of Sentence, Have you any thing to Say why Sentence of Death should not be pronounced upon you, I have nothing against it, were the Words of his Answer, and he continued to acquiesce in the Righteousness of his Sentence, even to the last. To One that talked with him, upon this Head, he said, I prayed just before my Trial came on, that Justice might take place; and I am satisfied that I am Guilty, and have Justice done.
And now, as was said, he was brought to justify God, though He should Sentence him to suffer the Pains of the Second Death. And to a good Woman that visited him some considerable Time before his Execution, he exprest it as his Wish, that he might never have hard Thoughts of God, though he should throw him into Hell.
He had, in the mean time, as hath been once and again before observed, a secret Hope rooted in him (though the actings of it, in Times of extraordinary Temptation, were suspended) that there might be Mercy in Reserve for him at last, and Forgiveness with God, so that his Purpose of Seeking and Waiting to the End, was never quite broken off. That Word in 1 Pet. 1.13. was a singular Support to him, Wherefore gird up the loyns of your Mind; be sober and hope to the End, for the Grace that is to be brought unto you at the Revelation of Jesus Christ. There was no Text of Scripture that did more sensibly relieve him, the last Week of his Time, than this: He would be speaking of it, over and over; so that one of the Ministers, that, in the absence of the Minister belonging to the Place, was most conversant with him, prepared a Discourse upon it; and not having Opportunity before the Prisoners Death to preach it in publick, he read or preached it to him, privately in the Prison, for his further Incouragement.
When his last Sabbath came, his Spirit, through the Violence of Temptation (the Adversary having but a short Time) seemed to be under very extraordinary Agitations. One thing that discovered it, was an Expression of this Import, that dropt from him; If I have not Comfort or Relief this Sabbath, I fear I shall be utterly discouraged. The Subject of the publick Discourses, that Day, was Isaiah 55.6. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous Man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, for he will have Mercy upon him, and to our God for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. But it pleased sovereign Grace to maintain his Hope, and renew his Incouragement, to wait unto the End.
After this, a very remarkable Alteration was observed in him ; he as carried above the amazing Fear of Death. He expressed much more of a Spirit of Thankfulness for what was done for the promoting of his Conversion and Preparation for what was, now, just before him. Repeated and reiterated Prayers were made with him, as well as for him, and he seemed much more affected, and even melted. He had clearer Discoveries of the Fulness and suitableness of Christ; expressing his humble Desires of believing on him. As for any thing in him, or done by him, in the least, to recommend him to the Divine Acceptance, -- he utterly disclaimed any such thing. The Knowledge he had acquired (though marvellous to others,) the Duties he had performed, the Pains he had taken, the Abstinence he had exercised, &c. was all nothing, and less than nothing, in his own Account, yea worse than nothing, in point of Justification. He could look back and remember with Grief and Shame, how much he had, aforetime, and after his Confinement, been under the power of a self-righteous Spirit. Particularly, he observed, how that when one told him, as at his first coming into Prison, that he had eight or nine Months time to repent in. His secret thoughts were that he should accomplish the Work in a quarter of that time: But now he expressed, to a certain Visitant, his Wonder that any graceless Soul should hope to do any thing, before Conversion, that might, in the least, recommend such an one to the Favour of God: So that (we trust) he was thoroughly humbled out of himself, and brought unreservedly to justify God, and submit unto his uncontroulable and righteous sovereign Dominion, which preparatory Work, as Mr. Stoddard observes, if it be clear, the Souls closing with Christ is unquestionable. Indeed, It is not known that he expressed himself as having a sense of the Love of Christ to any, but one gracious Woman; who was very inquisitive into his Experiences;& among other things she asked him whether he had not found, at some times, a sensible Love to Christ : He said he had; but said he, I found by reading one of the little Books I have by me, I was mistaken; and reached the Book and shewed her the Place that had, as he called it, shewn him how he was mistaken; and that his Love to Christ was not such as true Believers or converted Persons have. The good Woman can't remember the Title of the Book, nor distinctly relate what she read or heard him read out of it; but only a Passage to this Purpose, There's no Grace of the Spirit, or true Grace, which we would have, or think we have, -- but the false Spirit can fit us, to an Hair, with a Counterfeit. He spake of it, with great Concern, that the Devil should have such Power in counterfeiting, &c. then Times expressing his distressing Fear that his Faith and Love and all was but counterfeit Grace. To another good Woman, that visited him, the Night before his Death, he expressed great Concern, and some Fear. Here I am to Night, said he, but where shall I be to morrow Night: Yet being asked whether he was willing to die, he readily answered that he was; and said he had rather die than live; and mentioned again that of Peter, 1 Epistle 1 Chap. 13. Ver. -- Hope to the End, for the Grace that is to be brought unto you, &c.
On the last Morning of his Life, his Faith and Hope was found to continue,&still to be increasing more and more. The Minister that preached the Lecture, prayed with him in the Prison, -- God was wonderfully present, the Prisoner much affected and melted.
The Text from which he heard a most seasonable Discourse, and therein heard his last, was Luke 23. 42, 43. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me Paradise. After the Lecture poor Joseph was asked which of the Ministers he desired might, pray at the Place of Execution: He readily signified his Desire, that the Minister that preached (and had prayed with him in the Morning) might pray with and for him at his Death.
At the Time appointed for the Man of Death to take his last steps, most of the Ministers of the County, and several others, accompanied him on his way, -- The Mile's Walk was improved in directing, incouraging & cautioning the Prisoner of Hope; who, again & again expressed his Hope, but very modestly: As for Instance; He was asked, Do you believe that the Lord is willing as well as able to save you? He answered, Yes, I desire to believe. On the first sight of the Sea, on the shore of which was the Place of Execution, He was asked, whether he could venture upon the Ocean of Eternity in the Ark of Christ? He said, Yes. He was told, that was Faith: He returned, I am not sure I have Faith, whereas he had all along, 'till a little before this Day, confidently denied that he had any saving Faith. At first sight of the Gallows, he was asked, whether the Sight were not terrifying to him? He answered, No; not at all. And indeed, his Countenance, his Words; for Matter & Manner; and his whole Behavior in the Way to and at the Place of Execution, shewed plain eno' that he was very much above the Prevelancy of any such thing as slavish Fear.
The Gallows was fixed in a Valley, with Hills on the one side, and on the other, so that the numerous Spectators (they were by Conjecture about three Thousand: there having been no such Example in the County for more than seventy Years) had an advantageous Prospect. After one of the Ministers had prayed, &c. the humble Penitent chearfully ascended the Ladder, and gave Warning to the People, in the following Words, I would have you all take Warning by me, I am come here to die a shameful Death; and I acknowledge the Justice of God in it, 'tis Drunkenness that has brought me to it. I would have you all leave off your Drunkenness; for if you don't leave it off, it will certainly bring you to some dreadful End. Then he prayed so freely, so distinctly,& so pertinently, that it was to the Admiration of the Wisest and Best; the most impartial and judicious that heard him: But for want of the seasonable Penning it down, the Reader can't have so full & exact an Account of the Prayer, as of the shorter Warning.
In his Prayer he addressed God as most holy & glorious; He acknowledged that himself was a great Sinner, & that his Sins were attended with very extraordinary Aggravations, for he confessed that he had sinned against great Light & Knowledge, that he had sinned away blessed seasons of Grace; in crying to God for Mercy notwithstanding his many & great Sins, he pleaded the discovery God had made of his merciful Nature, That he delighted not in the Death of a Sinner, &c. He pleaded the Merit and Virtue of the Blood of Christ (which he called the Blood of Sprinkling) as sufficient to cleanse from all Sin, how heinous forever! begging Pardon and Cleansing, alone, for Christ's sake. He acknowledged his Inability to do any thing, and unworthiness to receive any thing. Begging that God would make him such as He would have him to be; & that he might be sprinkled with the Blood of Christ. And expressly committing his Spirit into the Hands of his Saviour, he concluded with a proper Doxology: and having once more, in answer to a proper Question put to him by one of the Ministers, very modestly expressed his Hope, as often before; he shewed (some thought even unto Excess) a readiness to die.
It was observed that the great Assembly of Spectators, were generally much affected, perhaps almost beyond Example.
Several Things in the All-disposing, very mysterious and super-abundantly gracious Providence of God our Saviour, relating to the Subject of the preceding Account, seem worthy of Observation and special Remark.
1. That being left Fatherless, he should be cast into a Family where he was made acquainted with the holy Scriptures, and the first Principles of the Oracles of God from his Childhood; so that by the Blessing of God upon the publick, together with these more than ordinary private Means and Pains that were, by his good Master and Mistress, used and taken with and for him, he attained to more than a barely sufficient measure of Doctrinal Knowledge, to lay the Foundation of his after Conversion.
2. That the bloody Fact for which he was to die should be so timed in the Commission of it, as that he had almost three quarters of a Year's space of Repentance, before his Trial could come on, according to the fixed Course and Circuit of publick Justice.
3. That his Judges, after they had shewed a wise Zeal, becoming the Robe and Diadem of Righteousness and Judgment, with which they are always cloathed and adorned; should, at the humble and earnest suit of this Man of Death, mercifully grant him seven Weeks farther space, after his Condemnation, before this Execution! -- Yet was the Matter so ordered in the good Providence of God, for the more effectual engaging of him to improve every Inch of his Time, that for a Month together, he never knew that he had two Days to live!
4. That there had been stirred up for him a Spirit of fervent and effectual Prayer, solitary and social, in a Course of Family Meetings and in smaller Numbers, more reservedly meeting together -- so, That there should be Opportunity, at the Anniversary Convention of Ministers, and otherwise by Word and Writing, to impart the condemned Man's Desires of Prayer to more than an hundred -- the Ministers of four Colonies -- and great many Thousands had opportunity to joyn with their Ministers in praying down the Spirit of Grace on a Soul that desired it more than Life! -- Thus when the Lord has a singular and signal Work of marvellous Grace in Hand, -- He delights to oblige many -- by interesting them in it. And if a Soul be, thus, saved from Death, and a multitude of Sins covered; the abundant Grace, though the Thanksgiving of many, will redound to the Glory of God.
5. That one of the greatest Hindrances that he met with; or that, indeed, could have fell in his Way to obstruct him in his great Work, should be over-ruled to forward it! For his being, after almost half a Year's Abstinence from strong Drink, intangled again by a Drunken Companion; and diverted, for whole Weeks, from his daily Course of Meditation, Reading and Prayer, was made wonderfully subservient to a more thorough Conviction; as to the Power of Sin in him, his Impotency to deliver himself, and wretched Unworthiness to obtain Help from the Lord: So that the Work of Humiliation seemed to be much advanced in him by this irresistable Temptation!
Two Things might something confirm this Supposition.
1. That he plainly and with Indignation, told one of us, after his Delivery from the Society, naturally so pleasing to him; That he had as lieve have the Devil with him, as such a drunken and ranting Companion.
2. After this Trial and Relapse, he once and again declared (yea seemd to be fixed in the same Mind to the last) that he had rather die than be set at Liberty, as despairing of ever conquering, but by being out of the Way of Temptation!
And now what are the Lessons of Instruction, Admonition, &c. that we are taught by such an Example as this?
1. O the mighty Power of Sin and Custom therein! No Cords, no Chains so strong! How easily did Sampson snap in sunder the seven green Withs and new Ropes, setting himself at Liberty from such kind of Bonds, -- yet was held with the Cords of Sin, Judges 16. Much more the wicked, Prov. 5. 22. The Devil, in the Man among the Tombs, could pluck Chains asunder, and break Fetters of Iron in pieces; but the Chains of Sin and Guilt, they can never break -- Our guilty Joseph in Irons, after so many Months Abstinence from his beloved Lust of Drunkenness, is again, taken in the Expectation of a speedy and violent Death, overtaken and carried Captive, in Time of Temptation; and could not be recovered 'till the Occasion was removed. Nor may we expect to conquer our own Iniquity, but by avoiding the Temptations leading to it, as much as possible. Particularly, the Sin of Drunkenness is seldom if ever subdued, unless it be famished by a total Abstinence; at least for a considerable number of Months, if not Years, --'till the inordinacy of this unnatural Thirst, expire for want of Oyl to maintain the Flame. --
2. We see, in this Example, the extream Hazard of present Delays, in Hope of a more convenient Season, Acts 25. 24. Deluded Souls venture on a little further in Sin, not doubting but they shall be able and willing to set about the Work of Repentance, and go thorough with it, at their Leisure. Poor Joseph, once, tho't so too --. But hear what, being Dead, he now speaketh, -- I was convinced by three quarters of a Year's Experience how utterly impossible it was for me, even under great Advantages, all Means and Helps, publick and private, and in the amazing Prospect of Eternity, even at the very brink of it, to raise up in my self so much as one good Desire. O therefore take Warning by me, and improve your present Seasons of Grace: For Delays are dangerous; exceeding dangerous!
3. Awakened Sinners may learn two Things farther from this Example: First, Not to be discouraged; not to sink under Discouragement in the Use of Means, though the LORD may, for their Trial and greater Humiliation, seem long to defer, -- 'Twas the last Week of poor Joseph's Life, before he had any comfortable Discovery to his inward Man, the hidden Part, Psalm 51.6. (Though he knew it Doctrinally from his Childhood, and that with much distinctness, especially after his Confinement) how that Jesus was willing as well as able to save from Sin and Wrath. Matth. 1. 21. 1 Thess. 1. 10. With John 6. 37. Yet (excepting the Diversion and Pullback for too long a Time) he held on in the Use of Means, publick and private -- He read many Hours in a Day; especially in his Bible -- He prayed seven Times in a Day, -- And was glad to have all Occasions of, and Temptations to his beloved Sin removed. -- Nor did he thus wait for nothing, or seek in Vain. This -- for the Incouragement of awakened Sinners! But then for our Caution and Direction, -- O the inexpressible Difficulty, and yet absolute Necessity of renouncing all our Painstaking in the Use of Means, or Performance of Duty, -- Self-denial, &c. together with whatsoever may be attained by the most sollicitous, diligent and patient waiting, were it even unto the Understanding of all Mysteries and all Knowledge, &c. (1 Cor. 13. 2. ) Yet must all, in our Esteem, be no better than Dung and Dross in Point of Justification before God, and Acceptance with him. Herein Christ and the Knowledge of him, -- Union to him, and Access to the Father through him, is all in all. And here this believing Penitent found Rest to his Soul, when he could find it no where else: Rest and Peace he found, though sovereign Wisdom did not see it good and safe, either for himself or others, that he should have the superior Joy of Faith; which all, but the Ignorant, know is not essential to it.
4. Learn hence a Lesson of Thankfulness to the God of Love for the Restraints of his Grace and Providence. It's possible, Reader, thou hast been held back from the grosser out-breaking of Sin, even from thy Childhood up, -- A few Names were found in Sardis, that had not defiled their Garments. -- Yet know, if thou wouldest not have thy Offering rejected as the proud Pharisee's was, thy Soul must be humbled within thee, for the Murder and Blasphemy of thy Heart. Mark 7. 21. And thou wouldest have been as bad as the worst, in Life and Practice, -- but for restraining Grace. ---- In particular, Hast thou been kept from, or recovered out of the Sin of Drunkenness; that worse than brutish, I was going to say, worse than devilish Sin; for though the Devil tempts others to it, he cannot himself commit it, ---- A Sin leading to the worst of Sins, and almost to all Kinds and Degrees of Sin. -- A Sin that has, already, drowned so many Millions in Eternal Perdition, and is still (let Magistrates and Ministers do what they will or can to prevent it) sweeping away like a mighty Torrent, hundreds of Thousands in the Kingdom, -- and no small Part of the Country, as to Name and Estate; Body and Soul. ---- A Sin, by which many shorten their Days not only meritoriously, but efficiently; and if they escape Punishment from Men, yet the Lord may, possibly find them guilty of their own Blood, with respect to Soul and Body, both, before his impartial Tribunal. As there's Poyson that will lie in a Man's Body many Years -- wasting him 'till it kill him at last, as surely as the strongest and largest Potion of what will have the quickest and most deadly Operation. Now, if I take the flow and sure-killing Poyson after I am informed of it's Nature and Tendency to destroy me, and after I have observed it's deadly Effect on others, ---- I am as truly a Self-Murderer, as if I should take a Dose of Rats-Bane that would kill me the same Day or Hour. The Application is easy, ---- but 'tis not easy to bring the Guilty to make Application to themselves. God alone can do it. And he can make such thankful, as have been the happy Subjects of Restraining Grace; without which they, also, would long enough ago have brought themselves to publick Shame -- to the Gallows, to Hell! -- That the worst Outrages and bloody Murders ---- yea and worse Facts than these; even such as it is a Shame to speak of, are not commonly committed ---- to bring about Sodom's Day again, is owing to Variety of Restraints, that God lays upon Man: And not to us, not to us; but to his Name be Glory!
5. Let us all be cautioned against rash Anger, furious Passions, malicious and revengeful Thoughts, Words and Actions, ---- fixed Hatred of our Neighbour, and the like Tendencies unto, and the Beginnings of the crying Sin of Murder. Matth. 5. 21, 22. 1 John 3. 15. ----And if he that hateth his Brother, be a Murderer, how many Murderers be there that go about our Streets, and joyn in the publick Worship, ---- Soul-Murderers too -- such as Imprecate Damnation on themselves and others ---- horrid Impiety! Monstrous Iniquity! The very Devils are not so hardy as to pray for the hastening of their compleat Damnation -- They rather make suit that it may be deferred, Matth. 8. 29.
6. But since it was Drinking to excess that betrayed poor Joseph into the bloody Fact, rather than any rooted Malice ---- Let his Example be for our Admonition. Therefore, he says in his Warning on the Gallows, -- It is Drunkenness that has brought me to this shameful End, -- I would have you all take Warning by me, -- Nor was he the first, by scores, that have been brought to the same End in this Land, by Drunkenness; besides Thousands and Thousands in other parts of the World, --- Yet as this poor Man had lamented in the Prison and said (we wish to God it may not prove too true, as a Prediction) when I am hanged -- and if twenty more should by their Drunkenness, be brought to the like woful End, the rest will not take Warning. ---- Remember, 'tis God that warns us by Man, by dying Malefactors; by living Ministers, and by his lively Oracles. How awful and pungent, ---- how amazingly dreadful is that Commination in Deut. 29. 19, 20, -- If Men were not more unbelieving than Devils, they could not but tremble at it, And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this Curse, that he bless himself in his Heart, saying, I shall have Peace; though I walk in the Imagination of my Heart, to add Drunkenness to Thirst: The Lord will not spare him; but then the Anger of the Lord and his Jealousy shall smoke against that Man; and all the Curses that are written in this Book shall lie upon him; and the Lord shall blot out his Name from under Heaven.
7. Yet let not the worst of Sinners despair of Mercy, -- seeking it in Season, and in Earnest; -- This poor Soul, before he committed Murder, (in the sight of Man) had (by his own Acknowledgement) been guilty of all manner of Sin, ---- sinned against great Light and Knowledge, -- abused singular and very distinguishing Mercies and Favours: And in all, had done Violence to his better informed, awakened Conscience. ---- Yet (it's hopeful) found Mercy at last, -- after much Pains-taking and long Waiting, -- after sore Conflicts and deep Humiliations, -- Mark 3. 28. Verily I say unto you, all Sins shall be forgiven unto the Sons of Men, and Blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme. Isai. 1. 18. Though your Sins be as Scarlet, they shall be as white as Snow; though they be red like Crimson, they shall be as Wool. For the Blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God cleanseth from all Sin, 1 John 1. 7. And the Word of God is quick and powerful -- 'tis as a Sword, an Hammer, a Fire, in the Hand of the Almighty Spirit of Grace, to pierce, and melt, and break the hardest Heart! Christ has Eye-Salve also, that will clear your sight, and shew you both your Misery, and your Remedy if you will but hearken to his Counsel, Rev. 3. latter end of the Chapter. And when you complain that you have neither Power, nor Will to follow good Advice when it is given you, 'tis very relieving to remember, that the Lord works to will and to do of his own good Pleasure; And his People shall be Willing in the Day of his Power, --- that where Sin has abounded, Grace may much more abound, ---- But it is the blackest Brand on any to abuse such Grace, ---- For there are certain Men ---- who were before of old ordained unto this Condemnation, ungodly Men turning the Grace of God into Lasciviousness, Jude ver. 4.
Finally; If thou, good Reader, art one of the many that remembred the Afflictions of our Joseph, and poured out their Souls for the Conversion of his. A Soul! (though of a poor Indian and Malefactor) more worth than a World; and in his Book, who for our sakes was hanged on a Tree, rates as high as the Soul of a King or Prophet ----. Then will that Spirit of Grace and Supplication which, before, moved thee to pray, and helped thee in Prayer, now excite they Praises. But let us all joyn in further and renewed fervent, effectual Prayers, that this Example may serve to the Glory of God, and good of Souls.
[From Early American Imprints, Microfiche 1077 No. 2782]