IN the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily, on Wednesday the 24th of February, and thence adjourned to Monday the 1st, and continued to the 2d, and 3d instant; 6 Persons received Sentence of Death: And of these 6; only 1 is now order'd for Execution; the other 5 being graciously Repriev'd.
When the Sessions were over, I constantly visited them, and us'd all possible Endeavours to make them sensible of their deplorable Condition, by reason of their Sins; and of the necessity of applying themselves to God, through Jesus Christ, for his Converting Grace, by which they might be brought out of their corrupted State, into a State of Purity and Holiness; that so being deliver'd from under the Dominion of Sin and Satan, the Spiritual Slavery of their Souls, they might be admitted into the Glorious Liberty of the Children of God: An Advantage only to be obtain'd by a Lively Faith, and Sincere Repentance, through the Merits of Christ, which the alone Spirit of God was able to work upon them, and apply to them; and therefore, (as I shew'd them) they ought earnestly to call for it by Prayer, and give themselves no rest, till they feeled the gracious Effects of that Divine Spirit, renewing their Minds, purifying their Affections, and transforming them to the Image of God.
On the Lord's-Day before Condemnation, viz. the 28th of February, I preach'd to them, and other Prisoners, both in the Morning and Afternoon, upon these Words, taken out of the Epistle for the Day, viz. Ephes. ch. 5. v. 1, and 2. Be ye therefore Followers of God, as dear Children: And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us, an Offering, and a Sacrifice to God, for a Sweetsmelling Savour. From which Words I shew'd;
1st. That, To be Followers of God, is, To believe in him, and be obedient to him: To be conformable to his Divine Will, and Holy Nature: To fear him as dutiful Children that dearly love him, and are dearly lov'd of him.
2dly. That, To walk in Love is, To order the whole Course of our Life answerable to the Love which God expresses to us, and that which we ought to have for him, and for our Neighbour; and therein exert our selves continually, going on in the constant Practice of this excellent Duty, while we live here, that hereby we may be fitted one Day to dwell in that blessed Place where perfect Love does reign.
3dly. That the Motive, (and a great one indeed) which we have to our careful Discharge of this Duty, is, Christ's transcendent Love to us, for whom he gave himself an Offering and a Sacrifice, that is, He offer'd his Life and laid it down; he shed his most precious Blood, and endur'd a bitter Death for our Sins; God accepting of that Perfect Sacrifice for a Reconciliation: On the Merit of which we may securely repose our Faith and all our Hopes, if so be th we are desirous, and sincerely endeavouring, to fulfill the Royal Law, (as St. James calls it) viz. To walk in love. Which consists of these two; 1st. To devote our selves to God, having nothing nearer our Hearts, than to serve him continually, and please him in all things. 2d. To deal justly with our Neighbour; and wherein we have wrong'd him, to make him all possible satisfaction; and likewise to do him all the acts of Kindness and Good-will that we can; taking care above all things, to promote the Salvation of his Soul, with our own: Which may be done sometimes by Admonition and Reproof, when there is opportunity for it; but always by good Examples, that may convince him, at last, both of the Necessity and Practicableness of Christian Love, and Holiness of Life.
To these I added some particular Exhortations, suitable to the Auditory. And thereby, as I endeavour'd to prepare them for their leading a better Life here, and enjoying a a happy Life hereafter; so I found them, after Condemnation was past upon them, most willing to improve my former Admonitions, and to receive more of them, to the Comfort and Salvation of their Souls. And so accordingly, I embraced the opportunity of satisfying these their good Desires, and by frequent Prayers for them, and Instructions to them, endeavour'd to dispose them for the Reception and Impression of God's Grace on their Souls, so as to advance them to the blessed Happiness of being presented Holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in the Sight of God.
Thus proceeding in my teaching them, and praying with them twice every Week-Day following: When another Lord's-Day came-on, which was that before Execution, viz. the 7th instant, I preach'd to them again in Publick, both in the Forenoon and Afternoon upon this Text, Luke 18. part of the 1st. Verse, and part also of the 2d. Morning-Lesson, the Words being these - Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Which Words I first paraphrastically explain'd, shewing, that by them, and the following Parable, our Saviour does intend to encourage us to constant Prayer, making us sensible of the Necessity of it. Not that his meaning is, that we should always be actually praying on our Knees, and with our Mouths; but we should be always so dispos'd: We should pray frequently, and make that Holy Exercise the constant Business and chief Employment of our Life: We should readily and gladly embrace all the happy opportunities, which the good Providence of God offers to us for it, whether in Publick or in Private; and should therefore be always in a temper and composure of Spirit fit for Prayer; being always free from wilful Sins; having our Consciences void of offence, both towards God and Men: We should be continually praying in the Spirit; have our Minds always lifted-up to God, and by inward pious Ejaculations, (intermixt with our ordinary secular Affairs,) keep a secret Spiritual Commerce and Correspondence between Heaven and our Souls. By which means our Affections might be utterly alienated from this corrupt World, and our Hearts fixt upon, and closely united to God, our Sovereign and perfect Good. And in this Exercise we should not faint, says our Blessed Saviour in the Text; that is, we should not grow slack or remiss, though God should seem to delay the granting us the things, which we ask of him, and stop (as it were) his Ears to our Requests: For this he judges fit some times to do, in order to exert our Patience and our Faith, and our Resignation to his Holy Will; and so making us thereby still more sensible of his great Excellency and Majesty, and of our own Abjectness and Unworthyness, increase our Humility and Devotion.
Thus having open'd the Text, and shew'd the import of it, I proceeded to discourse more largely from it, upon these following Heads. 1st. I shew'd, the Necessity of Prayer, or of our Application to some more powerful Being to supply our Wants. 2dly. The true Object of our Prayer, or who that powerful Being is, whose Assistance we are thus to implore, viz. God alone, exclusive of all created Beings, even the greatest of Saints or Angels. 3dly. The particular Nature and use of Prayer, as they result from the two foregoing Heads, viz. the Sense, 1. Of our own Weakness and Impotency; And 2. Of the Majesty and Omnipotence of God. 4thly. The certain Success and Advantages attending our Prayers, when duly offer'd. 5thly. and lastly. The Requisites, or Conditions necessary for the due Performance thereof.
Having discoursed upon the first Three of these Heads in the Morning, and on the two last in the Afternoon, I concluded the Whole with particular Exhortations to the condemned Persons, that they would examine and search out their own Hearts, and listen to their own Consciences, that must of necessity tell them, how much they stand in need of Divine Help and pardoning Mercy, and how they ought by Humility, and Godly Sincerity, to prepare themselves to ask it in Prayer; applying themselves to God, as our Church directs in this her excellent Collect for the Day. Grant, we beseech thee Almighty God, that we, who for our evil Deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the Comfort of thy Grace may mercifully be relieved, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. This only necessary Thing of imploring and obtaining God's Favour in the forgiveness of all their Sins, that they might through the Gates of Death
y Resurrection, I continually set before them. And this I did still more pressingly, as Death drew nearer to them. When the DEAD-WARRANT was brought in, which appointed John Estrick only for Execution, he then quickned his Endeavours of Preparation for his approaching Change, and made his Confession to me, as followeth.
John Estrick, alias Howard, alias Thomas Walker, alias Bennet, alias Morris, Condemned for Felony and Burglary, for breaking the House of Dr. Bourne in Moorfields. He said, he was about 26 Years of Age, born in London; and had for some time been employ'd in the Trade of Leather-Dresser , at his Father's House, when he liv'd in Horsleydown in Southwark; there he began, very young, to addict himself to Whoring and Pilfering, and did rob his own Father; and about 5 Years since, going to live at Hackney, in the Service of Thomas Glover, Esq ; he did (by the instigation of a certain Person, who disposed of it to another, both whose Names I shall spare here, in hopes they may now be better Men, than they then were) steal from him at several times, Plate to the value of 80 l. and falsely charged Susan Barnwel, then a Servant-Maid of his Master's, with it: And he carry'd himself so cunningly, that he was not so much as mistrusted of any thing by his Master; with whom, he said, he believed he might, if he would, have lived to this Day: But he had a mind to leave him, and so he did, and went to set-up a Glover's-shop near Cock-Ally, in the Parish of St. Giles Cripplegate, right over against that Church; having before his setting up, marry'd a most vertuous Woman, who knew nothing of his former Life. He had not been long set up, when the Party who had prompted him to wrong Mr. Glover, came to him with another (who shall also be nameless here, because I desire Men's Reformation rather than their Shame) who told him that they would turn Evidences against him in that Robbery, if he did not give them a Sum of Money. Upon which he gave them his Bond to pay them, within one Month, the Sum of 15 l. a piece, which he did, after he had been arrested by one of them for it. Then he could no longer keep his Shop, but broke; and being arrested, he was carried to the Rose, a Spunging-house, in Wood-street; from whence he removed himself to the Fleet-Prison: But some time after that, he came out, upon his paying 7 Guineas to the Warden, with some other Fees, amounting in all to about 12 l. but paid not a Farthing to his Creditors. Being at liberty, he went to his old Neighbour, Mr. King, a Clock-maker in Cock-Ally, and took a Room at his House: In which finding a Box, left by a Woman, who had formerly lodged in that Room, he made shift to open it with a Key that he had, and took out of it 90 Guin. 25 l. in Silver, several golden Rings, and a Gold-Chain. After he had continued about a Fortnight a Lodger in Mr. King's, who did not suspect him, he went away with what he had got, and took a House in Long-Ally, near Moorfields; which he furnished, and there intended to have carried on his Trade of Glover , not in an open Shop, as before, but within doors. But he was not long there, but a certain Lodger of Mr. King's, who knew how poor he was when he came out of the Fleet, told him, that he greatly suspected him of having done some ill thing or other, and he should soon find it out, and would discover it, if he did not give him something to engage him to hold his Peace. Upon this, he sold his Goods, in haste and with loss, left his House, and went into Holland; and soon after returning hither, he fell again upon his old Practices of Whoring and Thieving; being thereto, that is, to the latter of these, (as he averr'd) very much incited by John Prossor, his Bro-in-Law, saying, that tho' this Bro-in-Law of his generally took care not to commit the thing himself, yet he had put him upon robbing several Houses, as namely, that of the Reverend Mr. Richardson, near London-wall; out of which he took (by Night) several Goods. And not long after that, viz. about 15 Months since, his Bro-in-Law and himself went to Richmond, where he broke and robb'd some Houses; and particularly, Sir John Buckworth's: And here he cleared the Beadle of that Parish, who (as he heard) was suspected of those Robberies telling me, that his Bro-in-Law and himself, were the only Persons concerned in them. Then coming to Town again, he robb'd the Reverend Dr. Thompson's House, near Tyburn-Road: And some time after this, being (by the contrivance of his said Brother-in-Law) recommended for a Servant to Dr. Bourne, he was no sooner with him, but he robb'd him of several things, he thinks, to the value of 150 l. and of that, had about 40 l. to his Share, which he presently spent. After this, he robb'd Mr. Hurn. And last of all, (to name no more) he stole all the Cloaths and Wearing Apparel of One Mrs. Stevenson, and left her almost quite naked. Thus he freely confess'd his manifold Crimes, and express'd a very great grief for them; saying, that it repented him that he had been such an ill Liver; and was afraid God would never forgive him; being some times in despair of Salvation: But at last he declar'd, that he now felt in his heart a perfect hatred against Sin; and the assurance of Eternal Life, through the Merits of Jesus Christ. Finding him in this State of Penitence; of which, this his free Confession was a great Sign; I thought fit (at his desire) to administer the Holy Communion to him; and so I did this Morning; some pious Persons, out of Christian Charity, joyning with him in the Receiving. This being over, he was carry'd in a Cart to Tyburn: Where I met him; and after Prayer, and singing of a Psalm, he spoke to the Spectators to this effect.
- Good People, take Warning by my Fall. I am, you see, a Young man, who by my Sins have shortned my Days, and brought my self to this shameful (but deserved) Death. Take heed to your selves, and how you lead your Life. Live not as I have done, lest you come to the like sad and untimely End, I am now come to. Break not the Sabbath-day, and keep not company with Wicked Men, and Lewd Women, as I have done. Those are the great Evils, which have brought this sorrow upon me. Avoid all manner of Sin, even the smallest, for from one little Sin, Men easily fall to the commission of greater ones. I pray heartily to God to keep you from all Evil: And I beseech you, to pray for me, that God would have Mercy upon my poor Soul. To this purpose he spoke much to the People; and particularly he desird his Sister, To tell her Husband, that he ought to remember this Judgment now inflicted upon him, and lay it to heart, and learn from it to amend his Ways, and become a better Man, and endeavour for the future to live by an honest Industry, which he might very well do, and prosper more with it, (tho' he got but 2 d. a Day) in such a Way, than in getting Goods by unlawful means; which cannot profit; but prove at last hurtful both to Body and Soul. He pray'd God would please to reform and pardon him. He express'd all along, a mighty grief for his having wrong'd, as he had unworthily done, his poor Wife; a most innocent and vertuous Person, whose Bed he had defiled, and whose Company he had forsaken to cleave to Lewd Women. He said, he most heartily begg'd her Pardon, and the Pardon of all he had offended and injur'd; and, above all, God's Pardon; which he said he was now assured would be sealed in Heaven, before he should depart from hence: And therefore gave hearty thanks and praise to the Divine Goodness, that thus retrieved his Soul from perishing Eternally; for tho' he died here, yet he had stedfast hopes that he was now going to live for ever in Heaven, and be received in Glory, through the Merits and Intercession of Jesus Christ - . After this, I pray'd again, and sung another Psalm with him; who spoke a 2d time to the People, to the same purpose as before. Then I recommended him to the tender Mercy of God, and left him to his private Devotions; for which he having had some time allow'd him, the Cart drew away, and he was turned off; calling upon God in these, and other like Ejaculations, Lord pardon! Lord forgive me my Sins! O Lord do not abhor my Soul! I come unto thee. Lord Jesus receive my Spirit. Before I left him, he gave me some Letters, written with his own Hand the Day before; which, as they may prove of publick use; so they shall be published to morrow, in a Paper by it self, (attested by me) there being no room for them in this.
Thus he ended his Life, who for so long had made such an ill use of it: God grant this may be a happy Warning to other Offenders. And as for the Persons that were Condemned at the same time with him, and are Reprieved, I hope they are now inclined to good; and will (by the Divine Grace) so improve this Mercy, that they may receive more.
This is all the Account here to be given of this Sessions, by
Dated the 10th of March.