On the Day following, viz. the Lord's Day, being the 4th, I preach'd to them and other the Prisoners, that were brought up to the Chappel, both Morning and Afternoon; and my Text was Deut. 32. 29. O that they were wise, that they understood this; That they would consider their latter end.
From which Words I shewed my Auditory, on the one Hand, the madness and folly of those who did not, and on the other Hand, their great wisdom and prudence, who did seriously consider their last end, namely the Judgment to which they must all of them be brought, that will determine their future State, either of Endless Miseries or Eternal Bliss. Which having represented to them, and enlarged thereupon, I then proceeded to lay before them these three Considerations, viz.
1st - That though Men should live to the utmost Extent of their Days, and should not be cut off by any accidental stroke; yet they could not reasonably reckon upon their living here in this World, above the Term generally allotted them, to wit, Three or Four Score Years; which is but a very short time, if compar'd with that Eternity that is next to follow.
2dly - That they should frequently number their Days, and take notice how they run a-pace. How their Lives waste, and their precious Moments hasten away, and themselves draw nearer and nearer their latter End; their Eternal and unalterable State.
3dly and lastly, - That when Men's Days are near an end; when the Glass of their Lives is e'en run-out, and Death is within Sight; making its close approaches to them: Then indeed it more especially concerns them to apply themselves to a most serious Consideration and Contemplation of Death, and to a due and happy Preparation for it.
Upon the first Two of these Heads, I discoursed in the Morning, and on the Third in the Afternoon; concluding (at both times) with such Exhortations to Repentance, as I thought most proper for the Condemn'd Persons: Whom I continued to see and admonish twice every Day following; except Thursday and Friday the 8th and 9th instant, when the Officers of Newgate (as well as my self) were attending the High Court of Admiralty, at their Sessions then held at Justice-hall in the Old Baily. But,
On Saturday the 10th I did again give my usual attendance upon the Condemn'd Prisoners. And
On the Lord's Day the 11th, preach'd to them again; and took for my Text these Words of our Blessed Saviour, Mat. 25. 46. And these shall go away into Everlasting Punishment; but the Righteous into Life Eternal.
From which Words I shew'd them the two vastly different States of the other World: Whereof one is Everlasting Punishment: The other, Life Eternal. And I shew'd them also, who they were that should respectively partake of them; namely, the Wicked of the former, to wit, Everlasting Punishment; and the Righteous, of the latter, viz. Eternal Life. And of this I treated under these three following Heads.
1st, - I shew'd the Nature of the Punishment spoken of in the Text, which obstinate and impenitent Sinners shall receive after this Life.
2dly, - What is meant by that Eternal Life, which is here promised to the Righteous, that is, such as love and fear God, and are from their Hearts displeased with their Sins; with their having, at any time, transgressed the Divine Laws.
Thus far I proceeded in the Morning; when the time not permitting me to enter upon the Third and last Thing propos'd; I referred it to the Afternoon; which was to shew;
3dly and lastly, The certainty and Eternal Duration of what shall be the respective Portion of both these; namely the Wicked, that is, the impenitent and harden'd Sinners: And the Righteous, viz. such as by true Repentance and Amendment, are (through Mercy) in titled to the Righteousness of Christ.
To this I spoke under these two distinct Particulars; shewing, the Certainty and Eternal Duration of that State;
1st. Of Misery;
2dly, Of Happiness;
which shall be allotted to Men, as they shall be found to have lived in this World; that is, as they shall have done, viz.
Thus having Discoursed to them, I closed both my Morning and Evening Exercises with practical Observations and Admonitions; and particularly directed my self to those Persons (being then 11 in Number) under Sentence of Death, and shewed them the necessity of, and gave them some Rules and Directions for Self-Examination, in order to their having an abhorernce of themselves, and of their sinful Lives past, and being (through the Divine Grace) wrought into a true and sincere Repentance.
On Monday the 12th, and the following Days, to this Friday, I pressing this Work of Repentance upon all those Persons so nearly concern'd to make their Peace with God; found them (as far as I could judg) to be, all of 'em, very sensible of their Condition, and desirous of God's Mercy, and particularly John Shears; who made this free and ingenuous Confession, as follows.
This John Shears told me he was about 23 Years of Age; and indeed he did not seem to be much older. He said he was a Seaman by his Profession; and had served his present Majesty (whom God ever preserve) in several of his Ships of War; namely the Monmouth, under the Command, first of Captain Robinson, and afterwards of Capt. Piggot: In which Ship he said he served about two Years in the Channel and Bay of Biscay. And this was about Nine Years ago. Then he served in the Devonshire, Capt. Houghton Commander, 3 or 4 Months in the same Station, namely, the Channel and Bay of Biscay; and here he was taken by the French, and by them kept Prisoner for a certain space of time (which I have now forgot) at a place called Donnom in Britany. From whence returning into England, he was taken again into the King's Service for 27 Months, on Board the Lancaster, under the Command of the said Capt. Robinson, in the Streights. Whence he returned home, about 15 Months since, in the Squadron Commanded by Admiral Rook; and when arrived here in England, he was turned into another Ship of his Majesty's, out of which not long after he run away; and then became (as he freely confess'd) very disorderly. He acknowledged he had been a very grievous Sinner; that he had broken and profaned the Lord's Sabbaths; That he had wholly neglected the Service of God, and never before now considered either of his Mercies or Judgments; and had never taken notice of his great and marvellous Works. He with tears confessed that he had been guilty of most Sins; the thoughts of which were now
bitter to him; And Oh! (says he) that God would but lend a merciful Ear to my sad Moans, and grant me the pardon of all my Sins! He said he flung himself upon God's infinite Mercies, and though he sometimes despair'd of ever finding Favour with God, because his Transgressions were so great, and of such heinous a Nature; yet at other times he felt some refreshing hopes of being delivered from the heavy Load of his Sins, through the Merits of Christ; saying that he was grieved at his very Heart, that he had ever offended his heavenly Father, and hoped that this grief that he felt, and his abhorrence of his past Life, and earnest desires of returning to God with true purposes of Amendment, would find acceptance, and prevent his falling under the Eternal Wrath of God. Thus he appeared to have a just sense of his Spiritual Miseries, and most bitterly lamented the sad Condition which Sin had brought him into. Not that he carr'd for this Life, or was afraid of losing it; for he was not (as he said) unwilling to lay it down, being he had forfeited it to Justice: But his fear, yea the great terrour that was now upon him (and returned ever and anon, notwithstanding his hopes in Christ's Merits) was this, that if God would not accept of his late and forced Repentance; O what should become of him! And hereupon he advised all other Sinners, now to leave off their Evil Courses, before it be too late, that they may avoid the Miseries that otherwise will certainly ensue. Besides the Crime for which he was Condemn'd, (which was Felony and Burglary) he ingenuously confessed he was Guilty of another Robbery by him before committed; but said he had not long followed this Trade, neither did he know above two or three Persons ingaged in this Course, whom he earnestly pray'd to desist from it, and to lead a better Life. He added, that he heartily wished he could make full amends and satisfaction to whomsoever he had any ways wrong'd or injur'd. He humbly begg'd their Pardon, and prayed to God for them. He declared he dy'd in Charity with all the World.
When he was carried to the Tree, he behaved himself both on the way, and there, as a dying Man ought to do, and as one that was truly sensible of his Condition; shewing a great Dejection and Sorrow for his Crimes, and earnestly imploring God's Pardon for them, and for all and every thing wherein he had done amiss. He again with Grief confessed, that he had committed the greatest lewdness and folly, and all manner of Sins; Murther only excepted. For he had many and many ways dishonour'd God, and his holy Religion; had been disobedient to his Parents, and often trespassed against his Neighbour; that he had refused to receive Correction, and would not take warning by former Chastisements, and be reclaimed from his Evil ways. So that he acknowledg'd, that unless God was infinitely merciful to him, he was undone and damn'd to all Eternity; and that if he were punished as he deserv'd, there was no Mercy for him to hope for. Yet he trusted in the Merits of his Saviour, and hoped that all his heinous Sins would be washed away in that most precious Blood which was shed for penitent Sinners. And herein he now expressed a greater and more uninterrupted Confidence than before: Greater indeed (I fear) thn other Offenders may justly have, who will not take Warning by this fresh Judgment of God upon bold and rash Sinners; which Judgment they have now set before their Eyes, for the awakening of them from Sin unto Righteousness. He wish'd that all Transgressors would timely repent, and so prevent their own Ruin in this World, and eternal Punishment in the next. He desired all good People to pray for him, that God would be merciful to his poor Soul; and admonished all about him, and all others, far and near, especially Young-men, that they would take due Warning by his Fall, and carefully avoid the grievous Sins of Drunkenness and Debauchery, going after strange Women, Cursing, Swearing, Sabbath-breaking, and the like; all which himself (to his unspeakable trouble) had been Guilty of, and which had now deservedly brought him (a young Man that he was) to this his sad and shameful (and withal frightful) Untimely End. He joyn'd with me in Prayer, and that (in all outward appearance) with great affection and Devotion: And as he had before declared to me, that he would dye in the Protestant Religion, into which he was Baptiz'd; so having now repeated the Apostles Creed he said, that was his Faith; and he hop'd for that Forgivness of Sins, and Life Everlasting, which he professed to believe. He sung after me a penitential Psalm: And when this was done, I did again pray with him and for him. Then I gave him my Blessing, and heartily recommended him to the boundless Mercy of our God. After this I left him to his own private Devotions (for which he had time allowed him) and just before the Cart drew away, and he was turn'd off, he mightily called upon God for Mercy, in these and the like Ejaculations. Lord have Marcy upon me a great Sinner! Lord forgive all my Sins! Lord take pity of my poor Soul! I am undone, undone, without thy Mercy! Lord open thy Gate unto me! I come, Lord, I come, I come. Oh! let me enter in. Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit!
Robert Johnson having unhappily fallen into bad Company, that had brought him into the Commission of an heinous-Fact; received also Sentence of Death with John Shears. But in regard that it was his first Offence, and he was drawn into it against his Will, he has obtained his Majesty's most gracious Reprieve. He seems to be a poor innocent Person, and shews great Signs of Repentance: God grant that it may be sincere, and that both he, and all other Sinners, may resolve upon a new Life, and have Grace to shun the Paths of Wickedness, that tend to Shame and Destruction; and walk in the ways of God's Commandments, which will afford them present Comfort, and bring them at last into unspeakable Pleasures, and Life for evermore.
This is all the Account, which can be given of this Sessions, by
WHereas a certain Book, now lately publish'd, (said to be Printed for E. Hawkins near Fleet-bridge) under the Title of A Sermon preach'd last Sunday by the Ordinary of Newgate before Capt. Kidd and other Prisoners there; These are to give notice, that the said pretended Sermon is a Sham-Paper, having little or nothing on it (besides the Text) of what was there deliver'd in the Pulpit.
ADvice to the Sceptick, (and Comfort to the Christian.) With a Request that he look not on it as Visionary. Of the Immortality of the Soul, and the Life to come; the Existence of the One, and the certainty of the Other; Is here Asserted, Vindicated, and Prov'd, in opposition to Atheistical Principles. Sold by G. H. next the Golden-Still in Church-street, near St. Anns Church, where they may be had in Quires, and by Benj. Barker, at the White-Hart in Westminster-Hall, and A. Baldwin, at the Oxford-Arms in Warwick-lane.
LONDON: Printed for E. Mallet at the Hat and and Hawk in Bride-lane. 1701.