The ORDINARY of NEWGATE his Account of the Behaviour, Confessions; and Dying-Words, of those Condemned Criminals, who were Executed at Tyburn, on Wednesday the 3d of November, 1703.
AT the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily, on Wednesday and Thursday, the 13th and 14th of October last, two Persons were found Guilty, and accordingly receiv'd Sentence of Death, and five more were called to their former Judgments.
From the time of this their Condemnation, to the Day of Execution, I constantly attended them, and had them up in the Chappel twice every day; earnestly and pressingly admonishing them, both in publick and private, to an ingenuous and sincere Confession of their Sins; and to a hearty forsaking of them, and imploring God's Mercy and Grace duly to lament for them, and effectually to repent of them, if ever they intended to avoid the Eternal Horror and Misery and Torments of the Damned in Hell; and were at all (as they should greatly be) concern'd for the Joys and Glory and Happiness of the Blessed in Heaven.
On the three intervening Lord's-Days, I preach'd publickly to them and others then in the Chappel; viz.
The first Lord's-Day, the 17th of Oct. both in the Forenoon and Afternoon upon Eph. 6. 18. being part of the Epistle for the Day, and the Words these: Praying always with all prayer and supplication, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, and supplication for all Saints.
From which Words I shew'd,
1st. That by this Expression, Praying always, is to be understood, not the being continually on our knees in the act of Prayer (for the necessities of Human Life will not permit it;) but the keeping our selves at all times void of offence, and in such a Holy Frame of Spirit, as to be always fit for Prayer; taking all opportunities for it, and doing it as often as our own and others occasions call us to it, and we can possibly perform it. In which sense are to be taken also this of the Apostle's, 1. Thess. 5. 17. Pray without ceasing, and such like Precepts, which we find in other Places of Scripture.
2dly. That we ought to do this (as the Text directs) with all Prayer and supplication; using all proper Forms in our publick, and all liberty of Words in our private Prayers, that may both express our wants, and excite our affections; so as to omit nothing which we should pray for; distinctly petitioning for good things, and deprecating evil ones.
3dly. That this is to be perform'd in the Spirit, that is, 1. With our own Spirit, with full attention and application of Mind; so as not to draw nigh to God with our Mouths only; but to make our Addresses and Approaches to him with all the Fervor and Zeal and Affections of our Souls: And 2. We must do this with the Spirit of God, by whose only assistance we can make acceptable Prayers to him, according to what the Apostle says, Rom. 8. 26. and 27. The Spirit helps our Infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: But the Spirit it self makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be utter'd. &c.
4thly. That we ought to be vigorous and constant in this excellent Exercise of Prayer, joyning all the Faculties of our Souls to the Divine Spirit, which (upon our fervent application to God for it) we shall surely receive, according to our Saviour's Promise, Luk. 11. 9. Ask, and it shall be given you: Seek, and ye shall find: Knock, and it shall be open'd unto you Which he speaks of the Spirits; as it is most evident from what follows V. 13. Your Heavenly Father will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. And both in our asking for, and co-operating with the Divine Spirit, we must use all diligence, vigilancy, and watchfulness, in obedience to Christ's Precept and his Apostles, Matt. 26. 41. and Mar. 13. 33. Watch and pray. Col. 4 2. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same; and I Pet. 4. 7. The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. Which Duty is to be done and perform'd, not only for once, but always, with all perseverance, i. e. with perfect constancy, indefatigableness, and unweary'd continuance in it; under every circumstance and condition of Life whatsoever, whether adverse or prosperous, tho' our Petitions may not be presently granted: For they shall be heard and answered at last, to our full joy and satisfastion, if so be that we faint not. This is what our Blessed Saviour himself so sensibly teaches us in the Parable of the poor Widow and the unjust Judge, Luk. 18. 1. &c.
5thly and lastly, That we are to pray not only for our selves, but for others also: For all Saints, says the Text, that is, for all the true Members of Christ's Church. And indeed we ought to pray for all Men in general, according to the Apostle's Exhortation, 1. Tim. 2. 1. I exhort therefore that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. Which having said, he goes on to shew what Persons we should pray for in an especial manner; For Kings (saith he, v. 2.) and for all that are in authority, that under them we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.
In my further inlarging upon those Particulars, I took occasion to shew them the Necessity, Object, Excellency, Use, and Benefits of PRAYER, and gave them Directions for it; concluding with a particular Application to the Condemn'd Persons, whom I earnestly press'd the Practice of this great Duty upon.
On the second Lord's-Day, being the 24th of Oct. I preach'd again to them both in the Forenoon and Afternoon, upon part of the second Lesson appointed for that Morning-Service, viz. Lu. 10. 25, 26, 27, and 28. And behold a certain Lawyer stood-up and tempted him, saying, Master, What shall I do to inherit Eternal Life? He said unto him, What is written in the Law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy Neighbour as thy self. And he said unto him, Thou hast answer'd right: This do, and thou shalt live. Having open'd the Text, and descanted upon these four Particulars in it,
1st. The Lawyer's great and important Question to Christ, Master, What shall I do to inhet Eternal Life?
2d. Christ's Answer by way of another Question, which he puts double to this Lawyer. What is written in the Law? How readest thou?
3d. The Lawyer's Reply thereto, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c.
4th. Christ's Assent and Advice to him, Thou hast answered right: This do, and thou shalt live.
Then I laid down this Proposition, as the Doctrine of the Text; viz. That Eternal Life is attainable by Obedience to the Law of God: Which Law plainly requires of us these two Things, which are comprekensive of all its Precepts.
1st. Love to God in the highest degree, to be shew'd in all the Actions of our Lives, especially by our ready submission, and thorough-resignation to his Will. And 2dly. Love to our Neighbour, (that is, every Man) in the same degree of sincerity with that we have for our selves; doing as much for him (so far as in us lies) as we would have him to do for us; and doing no more against him, than we would willingly he should do against us.
After I had largely discours'd upon this, I proceeded further to shew, 1st. That a due Preparation for Eternal Life, was the chief Business of this, which is the only time we have for it. Because 2dly. When Death has given the final Stroke, our Day of Grace is at an end and it is impossible for us to repent and do any thing whatever in such a manner as it may be acceptable to God. And therefore, as a further Motive to this Preparation, 3dly. We ought to consider, that our Life here is but very short, and when once ended, there immediately follows an irreversible and Eternal State, either of Misery or Happiness.
These I inlarg'd upon, and apply'd in particular to the condemned Prisoners; whom I exhorted from the Consideration of its Shortness, to husband their time so well in Prayers, and Meditations, Self-Examination, and Stirring up of themselves to true Humility, Contrition and Repentance, that
by the Grace of God, establishing them, in Faith, they might work out their Eternal Salvation.
On the third Lord's-Day, the 31th of Oct. I preach'd to them again, viz. in the Forenoon upon Prov. 11. 31. being part of the First Morning Lesson, and the Words these, Behold the Righteous shall be recompens'd in the Earth: Much more the Wicked and the Sinner. From which I shew'd,
1st. That even Good-men (because they are not exempt from Sin) may expest to be punish'd: But their great Happiness is, that all their Punishments and Miseries will end in this World. Whereas,
2dly. The Wicked and incorrigible Sinners, that do obstinately continue in, and will never be perswaded to leave off their Sins, must expect to be punish'd, not as the former, in Mercy, but in Judgment; most severely, and without the least mixture of Spiritual Comfort with their Afflictions; which, by the just Providence of God, often begin in this Life, and are never to end in the next: For as they carry the guilt of their Sins along with them into the other World, so they shall there receive the Eternal Punishment due to them.
3dly and lastly, That this dreadful Punishment might be avoided by Repentance.
Towards which I gave them some Directions, and referr'd the rest to the Afternoon. When I did (for the sixth and last time) preach in publick to them; choosing for my Text part of the Second Evening-Lesson, viz. Col. 1. 10. That ye might walk worthy of God unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good Work, and encreasing in the knowledge of God.
After some cursory Observations in general upon these Words, and their Context, I then proceeded more particularly to shew,
1st. That Walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing is, to devote our selves wholly to the Service of God: And that both Negatively and Positively, i. e. By avoiding all manner of Evil, and exercising our selves in all manner of Good (so far as possibly we can) in Thoughts, Words, and Deeds.
2dly. That Being fruitful in every good Work, and encreasing in the knowledge of God, imply our Progress and Advancement in all the Duties of Religion, and our constant striving after an attainment to that Perfection which is in Christ.
3dly and lastly, That upon our faithful discharge of this Duty of Walking worthy of the Lord - &c. these blessed Advantages will ensue, viz. Pardon of our Sins, which we stand in so great need of; Favour with God, which of all things is the most desirable; and Heaven at last, which implys all that is perfectly good, and is to be the End of all our Desires.
Upon which Heads, after I had amply discours'd, I shut up all in a suitable Application to the Persons Condemn'd; putting them in mind again of the Duty of Repentance, and of the Shortness of their Time, which yet was all they now had to do this great Work in, and to prepare for Eternity.
Thus I was (in my weak capacity) laying Precept upon Precept, and Line upon Line, while these poor Wretches were under Condemnation: Who seemed to be very attentive to my Admonitions, and sensible of their deplorable Condition; desiring my Prayers, and the Prayers of the Church for them, which they had.
When the Dead-Warrant was come, then we understood, that three of them were Reprieved, and four to die. The Confessions of which Four, I shall here give you.
But in regard that (for the satisfaction of some) I have been very large in the Account of my several Sermons preached before these Condemned Persons; I will (for the satisfaction of others) be so much the shorter in what I shall here further say concerning them. And therefore you will have in this Paper, the Substance only of what they said to me; which is as follows.
I. Elizabeth Witherley, who was Condemned Dec. 14. 1702, for 5 Burglaries. She said, she was about 22 years of Age, born at Newcastle upon Tyne, of honest Parents, who gave her good Christian Education. But she coming-up to London about 5 years ago, after she had lived in a Service a Twelve month, fell into bad Company and ill Practices; turning a Whore and a Thief, &c. She acknowledg'd, that her neglect of the Service of God was the first occasion of her abandoning her self to all manner of Wickedness. She confess'd in particular the several Facts for which she was to die, and asked Pardon of God for all her Sins, and of the Persons she had wrong'd; wishing, she could have made them satisfaction, but it was out of her power.
II. Mary Bunch, condemned also Dec. 14. 1702, for a Burglary by her committed jointly with the aforesaid Eliz. Witherley. She did not deny the Fact, nor her having been, in many other respects, a very lewd and wicked Person. She declar'd her self a Roman Catholick, and desired to die in that Communion. She told me she was about 26 years old, born at York, and corrupted since her coming-up to London, where she had lived some few years. She said she repented of all her Sins, and begg'd and hop'd for Pardon of them thro' the alone Merits of Christ.
III Elizabeth Stanton, alias Deacon condemned on the said 14th Day of Dec. 1702. for breaking the House of Mrs. Ann Beak; of which Fact she now confess'd her self guilty, and likewise of two other Burglaries, with Elizabeth Witherley before mention'd. She said, she was but 21 years old, born in the Parish of St. Clement's Dane; That she had been a very lewd Woman, and a great Thief; for which she begg'd pardon of God and Man.
IV. Mary Raby, alias Rogers, alias Jackson, alias Brown, who was condemned March 3. 1702, for a Burglary committed in the House of a Noble Lady living in Soho-Square. She said, she was 30 years of Age, born in the Parish of St. Martins in the Fields: That she was well-brought-up at first, and knew good things, but did not practise them; having given up her self to all manner of Wickedness and Vice, namely, Whoredom, Adultery, and unjust Dealings. But as for the Fact she stood condemned for, she only own'd so much, and no more of it than this, That some part of the Goods stoln out of that Lady's House, being brought to hers in the Spring-Garden, where she then lived, she understood the next day after the Robbery was committed, (and not before) whose Goods they were. She acknowledg'd, that having been so great and notorious an Ill-liver, God had justly brought her to this her shameful End; and she earnestly pray'd, that he would please to forgive her all her Sins for Christ's sake; saying that now she had taken-up a Resolution, that if she were to live longer in this World, she would (by the Grace of God) never commit any such things again. She said, she had a Husband, (she thought in Ireland) if still alive; but she was not certain of it, because it was now 6 years since he left her. However she was sorry she had defiled his Bed, and desired him to forgive her that injury. She begg'd also pardon of all the World in general, for the scandalous, impious, and wicked Life she had led. And she pray'd, as the other three also did, That all wicked Persons (especially those they had been concern'd with) would take Warning by them, and might have Grace so to reform and amend their Lives betimes, that they might not be overtaken in their Sins.
Having (all of them) made these their Confessions to me, they stood to the truth of them; and being ask'd at the Tree, whether they had any thing else to declare for the disburthening and clearing of their Consciences, they answer'd me, No. And here Mary Raby, whom I particularly press'd again to speak the whole truth, in relation to the Fact she was now to die for, persisted in what she had said before about it: But owned that she had been a very great Sinner indeed, One that was guilty of Sabbath-breaking, Swearing, Drinking, Lewdness, Buying, Receiving, and Disposing of Stoln Goods, Harbouring of ill People. But she still deny'd her being in the Robbery committed in the Lady's House before mention'd.
This being over, I exhorted them all to implore the Divine Assistance in this their time of need. Then I pray'd and sung a Penitential Psalm with them: And so recommending them to the unbounded Mercy of God, I left them to their private Devotions, for which they had time allow'd them. At my leaving them, Mary Raby said, That she heartily thank'd me for the great pains I had all along taken with her and the others; and she pray'd to God to bless me, and my Family. Then she spoke to the People to this purpose, That she had been a very Lewd Woman, a Receiver of Stoln Goods, &c, and that her frequenting Musick-houses, and such like Places, was the beginning of her ruin: But she said withall, that often she had been abused, by being accus'd, and thought guilty of Facts which she had not done, because she had the Name (and that not undeservedly) of being an Ill-liver. After this she call'd aloud to me, and desired me to warn Arthur Chambers from her, to leave off his sinful Course of Life. Then she declared over and over again (as the others had done before) that she forgave all the World, and dy'd in Charity with all Mankind. Which having said, both she and the rest call'd upon God in these and the like Words. Lord have mercy upon me! Sweet Saviour, receive me! Lord Jesus, open thy gates to me; Let me come in, let me enter into thy Paradise. Lord, I come to thee, I come, I come. O Lord, forgive me my Sins! Lord have mercy upon my sinful Soul! I hope thou hast forgiven me, and wilt make me happy with thee. Lord Jesus receive my Spirit! AMEN. While they were utteting these and such like Ejaculations, the Cart drew away, and they were turn'd off.
This is the impartial Account given of this Sessions, by Wednes. Nov. 3d. 1703.