THE Ordinary visited the Condemn'd Prisoners on Saturday, and after Praying with them, endeavoured to make them sensible not only of such Crimes which had expos'd them to the Sentence of Death, but advis'd them to look back to the most remarkable Sins of their Lives, which justly provok'd God to leave them to themselves, to fall under their present Condemnation.
After much conference with them to awaken them from a secure impenitent State, and to fit them for a thorough Converversion unto God, he dismiss'd them with Prayer, exhorting them to prepare their hearts in a due frame for the solemn Duties of the ensing Lord's Day.
In the Forenoon of which, the Text was Matth. 5. 4. Blessed are those that Mourn, for they shall be Comforted.
In the Afternoon was Preached a Sermon on 2 Tim. 1, 10. endeavouring to convince wicked Persons, who live as if they believed no future State, of the evidence and certainty thereof: after the Rational Proof of this Doctrinal Point of the Life Everlasting. There was a Practical Application made, suitable to the Subject, and the Condition of the Condemned Prisoners.
On Tuesday in the Forenoon he repeated his Visit to them, and after the Prayers of the Church read, was Preached to 'em a Sermon on Ephes. 5. 15. See that ye walk circumspectly, not as Fools, but as Wise, Redeeming the time, because the Days are evil.
The Sermon concluded with an Exhortation proper to the Text, and to the Condemn'd Persons Circumstances; which was this, You the Condemn'd Prisoners of this place, have been press'd to the Duty of Redeeming your time; and doubtless whatever need others have of putting it in practice, you have a more especial necessity of doing it immediately: Death indeed may not be far off from any of us here present, but to you who have receiv'd a Sentence of Death, 'tis more certainly near than to any besides: O prepare then against its coming, that the Night of Death may be a Season of sweet Rest and Repose unto you in Abraham's Bosome; that you may be said to Die in the Lord, and that thus resting from your Labours, the Reward of Good Works may follow you.
Too much of your precious Opportunities for Salvation have you lost already, I beseech you lose no more of them: Redeem the time past by a double diligence in the space yet remaining: Your Day of Grace certainly ends together with the Day of your Lives, and therefore take care that you end not your Lives without a due preparation for your Deaths.
The way to prepare for them, is the exercising a thorough Repentance of all your past Evil Deeds; to Repent of them not so much because they have expos'd you to Suffering, as because by your Iniquities you have offended the pure Eyes of your Heavenly Father, have Violoted his Holy, Just, and Good Precepts, have despis'd his Goodness and Forbearance, contemn'd his Justice, and defied his Almighty Power.
Work then now as for your Lives, as for your future Everlasting Lives; Read, and Meditate, and Pray; commune with your own hearts, and be still; search the Gospel Promises for your Support and Consolation; search the Gospel Threats for your Awakening and Determent from Sin: plead before God the infinite Merits of his Son's most Holy Life, and Cruel Ignominious Death, for your Forgiveness and Acquitment at the Bar of his Tribunal: Intermit no time from Religious Duties of all sorts; be not so sollicitous for your Earthly, as for your Heavenly Pardons; fear not Death so much, as Sin the Occasion of it; Hate Vice now, as much as ever formerly you delighted in it: Prepare so for your Departures, that they may prove to you an Introduction into Life Everlasting.
O lose no one Minute of time from the working out your Salvations with fear and trembling; you have certainly no time to spare, spare none of it from this one thing necessary, the minding the things of your Eternal Peace, before they be hid from your Eyes. Venture not to go out of this World, with Souls unmeet and unprepared for your entrance upon another; use your utmost Diligence in Conjunction with God's Grace, that the work of your Conversion be not left imperfect and uncompleat; for after Death there is no Amending the Work, no Retrieving past Defects; in the Grave, whither you are going, there is no Device nor Knowledg, no Returning again on Earth, to Act better our parts than we did before we went hence.
I proceed to give an Account of the Confessions of the Condemned Criminals unto me.
Charles Baker, alias Beckworth, Condemned for Robbing John Shepherd Esq; on the High way, on the 9th of June last, he declared unto me, that he is a Roman Catholick, born and bred up in that Religion, and was resolved to adhere to it in Dying. I did for a considerable space of time, endeavor to Convince him, that it is a false Religion, both by Scripture and Reason, and that many who profess it while Living, for Worldly Interest, yet dare not venture to Die in it, as I have known some. It is no Argument to adhere to it because any was born and bred in it. For so we were in Sin, and yet no Man counts it Rational, or Safe, to Live and Die in it. An Erronious Conscience cannot be an Allowed Plea at God's Tribunal, when sufficient means are offered for Conviction of the contrary. Yet he resolved to Die in the Popish Belief, and desired me not to trouble him any further.
William Bew Condemned for the same Robbery, denied not the Fact, he was very attentive to Good Advice and Prayers. Acknowledging that he had been a great Sinner, yet very reserved as to the expressing of any particulars wherein. Yet afterwards he made an Ingenious Confession of his evil Course of Life. I hope he was Penitent.
Andrew Ellingburgh, and Martin Tashter, both Dutch Men, and Condemned for Robbery. They told me, that they could not speak any English, nor Lattin. So I advised them to send for a Minister of their own Nation. They did so, and he was with them several times in the Prison, and in the Cart at their Execution, where the Minister was their Interpreter to the People: They warned them, to take heed of all Sin, and were very Penitent, Praying for themselves. And their Minister assured me, that they had a deep sense of their Sins, and he hoped they were real in their Conversion to God.
Henry Smith, Condemned for Felony and Burglary. He was born in Lancashire, and bred up to the Imployment of a Carpenter , but affecting to live Idly, It brought on Licentious Courses by Joyning with bad Company. He said that he had been a very great Sinner. I ask'd him wherein, he said that his Offences against God were so many, that he could not call them to Remembrance as he ought, He Instanced in some, saying they were Now a burden on his Concience. I told him, that they ought to be such, because they had been so long his effected Bondage to Satan. Therefore they should Now Cause greater Birterness of Sorrow, and a greater hatred of them, and a Viler account of himself than he had yet express'd.
James Kerby, Condemned for Felony and Burglary: Being ask'd an account of his Life and Conversation, gave only this that he Lived in some Secret Sins, known to God and himself, but he needed not to Confess to a Minister, who Cannot Pardon him. I replyed, That a Free Confession of Sin brings Glory to God, in the Recognizing of His Infinite Knowledg and Justice, It unburdens the Conscience of a Sinner, and renders him a fit Person how to attain solid Comfort, and that also a Minister Cannot Pardon him absolutely by any Inherent Authority, as God himself doth, yet He hath appointed his Lawful Ministers to pronounce a Pardon upon a Sinners repentance, this being only a Rational Declarative Act, Grounded on a Divine Promise for the Ratification of it.
Robert Foster, Condemned for Felony and Burglary. He said that he hoped God would Pardon him, because his Parents Neglected to Instruct him in matters of Religion; I replyed, such neglect in Them, could not excuse his Voluntary Sinning, and that he might have known his Duty and the danger of Sin, by the very Light of Nature, and the check of his own Conscience Besides he confess'd that he seldom Prayed, that he might be kept from Evil Company, which is, (as I assured him) the ready Road to Destruction.
As for Thomas Read, and John Carter, Both being Condemned, for stealing a Mare, they are Repreived by the Queens Mercy and Clemency, therefore I forbeare to give any account of their Evil Course of Life.
On Wednsday the 23d. Instant, Henry Smith, James Kirby, Robert Foster, William Bew, Andrew Ellingburgh, and Martin Tashter, were all six Conveyed in two Carts to Tyburn! as also Charles Baker! alias Beckworth, who made the seventh, for Robbing Esq; Shepheard with Bew on the Highway, Rode to the aforesaid place in a Coach, with a couple of the Sheriffs Officers to attend his passage: he being a Roman Catholick, declared That he had been well Educated, but was Disobedient to his Parents, telling the People that let Parents take what care they can of their Children, yet some would pass on in a Wicked Course, from a small Sin to a greater, untill they provoked God to leave them to themselves, after which they Run into all manner of Debaucheries, and so are brought to Publick shame and Punishment, he said further, that he had led a very Evil Life, and deserved Punishment: For that he was Guilty of the Fact for which he came there to Dye, and therefore desired no further trouble, for he had Begg'd of God to forgive him all wrongs done to others, and was willing to Dye, after which he Prayed to himself, till he was turned off.
Henry Smith, For Breaking John Hodges's house was very Penitent, owning the fault for which he came to Dye, desireing all Men to forgive him all wrongs he had done, hoping God would have Mercy upon his Soul. He was very weak and cold not (in all outward appearance) Express himself.
James Kerby, who was one of the Gang of Thieves that Robbed Mr. Baker of St. Mary le Bone, being very Faint desired Mr. Ordinary to acquaint the Spectators, that he would have all Youth to take warning by his Untimely End, (he being very Young) And that they would take Care to Pray to God every Morning and Evening, that he would keep them from all Evil Company; because Evil Company was the greatest occasion of the Breach of the Sabboth, and an Inlet to the Commissions of all Sins, which at last brought Men to Punishment, he owned his Crime, begging Pardon of God and of all the World.
William Bew, who was Joyned with Baker in the same Robbery on the High-way, was also very Penitent, desireing that all Persons would so far take warning by him, that he might be the last Man that might be Executed there. He freely acknowledged himself to be Guilty of the Crime, begging Pardon of God and Man for all the Wrong he had done to any Person. Also that the breach of the Sabboth day, was the first step that led him into the commission of all other evils, and Transgressions whatsoever which had proved his Ruin.
Robert Foster, (For Breaking the House of one Carter, on Midsummer day last) acknowledged himself to be a Notorious Offender, and that he deserved the Sentence of Death. But more particularly he had been Disobedient to his Parents. He warned the Spectators against Drunkenness and Uncleanness, Saying he had Committed most Sins, excepting that of Murder, &c.
After which Mr. Ordinary Pray'd for them, And Sung a Penitential Psalm, to all which Smith, Kerby, Foster, and Bew, gave dilligent attention. The Dutch Minister takeing care of the other two, viz. Ellingburgh, and Tashter, Baker alias Beckworth all the while turning himself from the Rest, dyed in Popish Opinions, &c. The Ordinary Again recomending them to the Mercy of God, they were all Seven Turn'd Off.
This is the whole Account which I can give of this Session, tho' I visited them every day till their Execution.
Dated this 23d of July, 1690.
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