AT the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the 11th, 12th, and 13th Instant, Two Men and Seven Women were try'd for several Felonies and Burglaries; and being found Guilty, they did all of them receive Sentence of Death accordingly. But Four of the Women, who were found with Quick Child, and the other Three, with one of the Men, through the QUEEN's especial Mercy being Reprieved; One only, viz. Peter Bennet, is now order'd for Execution:
On the LORD's-DAY, being the 15th Instant, I peach'd to them and others then in the Chappel of Newgate, both in the Morning and Afternoon, upon these Words of Elihu in Job, chap. 36. ver. 26: Behold, God is great, and we know him not; neither can the Number of his Years be searched out.
From which Words, shewing to us,
1st, The Greatness of God, infinitely surpassing our Knowledge of Him. Behold God is great, and we know him not. And,
2dly, His Eternity, not to be brought within the Compass of our Numbers. Neither can the Number of his Years be searched out.
I laid down this Proposition, viz.
That all the Knowledge we can have of God in this World, is very short and imperfect; and the very highest Conceptions which we can frame of his Majesty or Eternity, are very scanty and defective: Those Divine Perfections infinitely surpassing all our Measures, either as we are Mortal or Limited Creatures.
Which Proposition having first Illustrated, I then proceeded to draw from the Whole, these useful Inferences.
1st, What an inestimable Treasure the Holy Scriptures ought to be esteem'd by us; and how we should therefore diligently search them, seeing they contain all that is necessary for us, both to know and to do, in order to Salvation.
2dly, How reasonable it is for us to love one another in some Differences of Thought and Opinion; for where these have no Influences to a bad Life, nor disturb the Government, nor lead to a Necessity of throwing off the Authority of the Holy Scriptures, there our mutual Love and Forbearance (whatever else is) is an undoubted Command.
3dly, What an awful Reverence we should bear to that God, who is so highly and so infinitely exalted above us.
4thly, How we should repent of our Sins, and amend whatever we have done amiss; seriously considering how much we have by our wicked Lives affronted the Majesty of God, and trampled upon his Soveraign Authority; How much we have despised and abused his great Goodness and Mercy; And how much therefore we should be concern'd to prevent the Dreadful Effects of his Wrath, by a speedy, sincere and hearty Repentance, and stedfast Faith, working by Love, and flowing from a due sense of the infinite Excellency of the Divine Nature.
5thly, How we ought to depend upon God in all Events, and under all Circumstances, and wholly resign our selves to his Holy-Will and Pleasure.
6thly, How we ought to wean our Affections from this miserable and wicked World, and fix our Hearts upon God and Eternal Life.
7thly and lastly, How we should be earnestly longing after that happy State, where we shall be advanc'd to an unspeakable degree of God's Knowledge, and most ravishing Joy and Comfort: Where all our Troubles, and Fears, and Perplexities; all our Sins, and Punishments, and Miseries, shall be at an end; and our blisful and surpassingly transporting Enjoyments shall begin, encrease, continue and endure to all Eternity.
These Heads of Inferences after I had enlarged upon, I then address'd my self in particular to the Condemned, whom I exhorted to look back upon their Life past; To consider the sad Condition Sin had brought thm into: and to take a Prospect of their approaching future State; which should be a State either of Eternal Happiness, or Eternal Misery, according as they did, or did not, endeavour to improve those few precious Moments, which were remaining them in this World.
ON the Lord's-Day following, being the 22d Instant, I preach'd again to them, both in the Forenoon and Afternoon, upon part of the Epistle for the Day, viz. Eph. 4. 22, and 23. That ye put off concerning the former Conversation, the Old Man, which is corrupt according to the Deceitfulness of Lusts: And be renew'd in the Spirit of your Mind.
From which Words (first Illustrated) I shew'd,
1st, That there is a Corruption in our Nature, which is called the Old Man, because we derive it from our first Parent Adam, who by his Transgression of God's Command, brought this Corruption upon himself, and entail'd it to his Posterity.
2dly, That this Corruption, though inveterate and deeply rooted in our Nature, yet may be overcome and removed from us, so far as that it shall not prejudice the Interest of our Souls; if so be that we are renew'd in the Spirit of our Mind; that is, if we have the Spirit of Christ; which we shall certainly receive (accorcording to his Promise) upon our earnest asking for it: and by the Power of it we shall have our corrupt Nature chang'd into a State of Purity and Holiness, and consequently of Spiritual Joy and Comfort.
Upon these two Heads, I inlarged both my Morning and Evening Discourses, which I concluded with a particular Application and Exhortation to the Condemned Persons; pressing them to Repentance, and shewing them what Repentance was, and what were the blessed Fruits of it.
While they were under this Condemnation, I visited them twice every Day, and laid before them those Considerations I thought most proper and most conducive to their Reformation and Salvation. And indeed, I must say this of them, that they all did (while with me) behave themselves in outward Appearance, as Persons that were really sorry for what they had done; and I hope that those of them who are Repriev'd will make good the repeated Promises that they have made to God and me, of forsaking their Sins utterly, and amending their Lives effectually; which the Lord grant they may faithfully perform, to their Temporal and Eternal Comfort.
Now as the World will be able to judge of them by their future Life; so it may judge of him who is the principal Subject of this Paper, by the Confession and End he made; which, in Substance, is as follows.
Peter Bennet, alias French Peter, alias Peter Flower, the only Person now order'd for Execution, said that he was about 25 Years of Age, born of honest Parents at Niort in the Province of Poictou in France, and brought up in England, whereinto he came very young; and that his first Employment was the Silk-Weavers Trade , of which he work'd about two Years in Spittlefields, and then went into the late King William's Service ; in which, and in Her present Majesty's, he had been (both at Sea and Land) for these several Years past, and was actually in the Second Regiment of Foot-Guards , under the Command of Lieutenant Colonel Bradocke, when he was apprehended. He own'd himself to have been a very ill Liver, and formerly one of Moll Raby's Gang; and he did (with bitter Reflection upon his vicious Conversation, almost through the whole Course of his past Life) freely declare, that he had committed all manner of Sins that cou'd be nam'd or thought on, Murther only excepted; and said that though he earnestly desired to live, that he might lead a new Life, and give sensible Tokens of his Change and Reformation to the World; yet he was willing to submit to the Will of God, and the Stroke of Justice, by which he was appointed to be cut off from the Land of the Living: wherein he had done so little Good, but so much Harm. He confess'd, that he was justly brought to this Condemnation, who had no better improved the Mercy he receiv'd before, when under such another; and that he was guilty not only of the two Facts lately proved, but of all the Seven Indictments then preferr'd against him in the Old-Baily: And 1st, That he, together with Thomas Hunter, (who not long since was executed at Tyburn) and another, whom I shall forbear to name here (because I desire not his Confusion, but his Conversion) broke open, and robb'd the House of Mr. Annis, on the 19th of April last, taking thence 60 Yards of Crape, 90 Yards of Serge, 66 Yards of Holland, and 12 pair of Stockings; which Holland and Stockings they divided among them three; and as to the Crape and Serge, his Companions dispos'd
thereof, he does not well know to whom; but he remembers, they had Nine pound for them, and he Three pounds for his Share out of that Nine pound. 2dly, That he, with the other two beforemention'd, and one Sebastian Reis, a German, that was hang'd with Hunter in June last, did likewise in the said month of April, break the House of Thomas Abbot, a Quaker, and took from thence 25 Dozen of Handkerchiefs, and an old Scarf, which they sold for Four Pounds to a Woman that keeps a Brokers Shop at the Golden Ball in High Holbourn: but as for the Guinea mention'd in that Indictment, to have been at the same time with the other Goods, taken out of the forenamed Abbot's House, he said, he knew nothing of it. 3dly, That they did, in May last, break the House of Mrs. Margaret Christian, and take thence a Cheshire-Cheese, about two or three Quarts of Brandy, and some Sugar Cakes; which Cakes and Brandy, they did eat and drink among them; and for the Cheese, himself, who was carrying it away, when pursu'd, threw it down, and left it to whomsoever would take it. 4thly, That they in April last, broke another House, which he supposes might be Mr. Sapford's, mention'd in the fourth Indictment, but had not an Opportunity of carrying any thing out of it, being prevented therein by the Watchman that was then going the Rounds, 5thly, That in the same Month of April, they broke the House of Mr. Palmer, and took from thence four Silver-Spoons, a Napkin, an Old-Sword, and a Spice-Box, with a small Silver-Spoon in it, & some other things, of little or no Value. The 4 Silver-Spoons, he said, Mr. Palmer had again; the Napkin he took to himself, and the Box they left in the Fields; but what was in it, and the Sword with the small spoon, he can't well tell what his two Companions did therewith. 6thly, That towards the end of the said Month of April, he, and the other two first mention'd, broke the House of Mr. Gibbs, and took from thence 8 India-Curtains, 4 Vallance, a Squob, and a pair of Sheets; which Sheets he kept for himself, and one of them took the Curtains, Vallance, and Squob to his own Use, and gave him three half Crowns in Consideration thereof, and their other Companion had also some Money given him upon that account, by him that kept those Curtains, Vallance, and Squob. 7thly, and lastly, That they three went and broke open the House of Mr. Bird, and took thence a Ham of Bacon, (which the Owner had again) and 5 Bottles of Cyder, and two Papers of Tobacco, which they spent among themselves. He added, that he (as he does in general remember, but has forgot the Particulars) had committed several other Robberies and Burglaries, in company with the forenamed Tho. Hunter, and Sebastian Reis, and the other Person whose Name (as I said before) I will now spare; and that this last, in particular, did with him one Night (he can't well tell how long since) break and enter by the Backside, into a certain House in a pav'd Court in Fetter-Lane, and robb'd it, taking thence 24 or 25 Guinea's, about 5l- in Money, a Silver-hilted Sword, a Long-Perriwig, a Silver-Salt Seller, with some Silver-Spoons and Forks, and a Hat; which Hat, he said, he wore now, and was not worth restoring. As for the Sword, they flung it into a Cellar, in Fee-Lane, and for the Plate and Perriwig, his Companion sold them to one William Buxton (an Harbourer of ill People, and a Buyer of stoln Goods) living in Church-Lane between White-Chappel and Gravel-lane. This is the ample Confession he made to me, and declared, that (to his Grief) he was not able to make any Restitution or other Reparation to the Persons he had thus wrong'd; but heartily pray'd that God would bless them, and they would forgive him. He freely acknowledg'd himself a grievous Offender, and repeated again, that he had committed all manner of Wickedness, but Murther; that he was the vilest and the worst of Sinners, and had exceeded in Sin, even those that had first brought him into it: some whereof, he said, had deservedly suffer'd a shameful Death, and others are still living; and these he earnestly intreats to be wiser than himself had been, and take due Warning by him, who now finds his Folly in not having done so by others, that is, by the Punishment of those that went this way out of the World before him. He seem'd to be very sensible that his Neglect of God's Service, prophaning the Lord's Day and Name, Swearing, Drinking, Gaming, Whoring, &c. were the great Causes of his Ruine; and therefore out of that Charity which he owes, and now has for all Mankind, he (in the Words of a Dying Man, that has done with the World, and now speaks without Disguise, by his own woful Experience) admonishes all to avoid those, and all other Vices; that they may prevent their own Destruction both of Body and Soul. Thus he appear'd as one who had great Reason to abhor Sin, and who wou'd fain perswade others to abhor it too.
The Day of his Execution being come, he was carry'd in a Cart to Tyburn, where I assisted him to the last; earnestly exhorting him to clear his Conscience by a further Confession, if he had any thing more to say, and stir up his Heart and all the Affections of his Soul to God. Upon which he said, he had nothing more to discover, but heartily pray'd God to forgive him his Sins, and be merciful to him for Christ's sake. Then I pray'd and sung a penetential Psalm with him; and afterwards he spoke to the People to this Effect, I suppose there are some here that have been engag'd in ill things. I know there are. I beseech them to amend their Lives, and I beg that all that see me here, would take Warning by me. I am a very young Man, but a Lad, not above 24 or 25 Years of Age, but a grievous Sinner, and I am now to die for my wicked Life. Pray Gentlemen, take Warning by me, and pray for me, that God would have Mercy upon my poor Soul. And the Lord bless you all and prosper you. Then he lifted up his Eyes to Heaven, and said, Lord have Mercy upon a miserable Sinner. O call me not to mine account. I am not capable of answering thee. Sweet Jesus have Mercy upon me! Lord, open me thy Gates, and let me enter in! When he had done speaking, I discours'd him again, and made him rehearse the Articles of our Christian Faith, and I pray'd again, and sung another Psalm; and having commended his Soul to God, I left him to his private Devotions, for which he had some time allotted him. Then the Cart drew away, and he was turn'd off, whilst he was calling upon God in these and the like Ejaculations, Lord forgive me all my Sins! O God, I come, I come: Reject me not. O do not abhor my Soul! Lord, save me, Lord Jesus receive my Spirit.
THE Exemplary Life and Character of James Bonneld, Esq; late Accomptant General of Ireland. To which is added the Sermon preach'd at his Funeral by Edward Lord Bishop of Killmore and Ardagh The Life by William Hamilton, A. M. Archdeacon of Armagh. Attested by Six of the most eminent Bishops in the Kingdom of Ireland.
THE Necessary Duty of Family-Prayer, and the deplorable Condition of Prayerless Families consider'd. In a Letter from a Minister to his Parishioners. With Prayers for their Use.
THE Manifesto of the Cevennois. Shewing the true Reasons which have constrained the Inhabitants of the Cevennes to take up Arms. Dedicated to the Dauphine. Price 2d.
A Discourse concerning Sins of Infirmity and wilful Sins, with another of Restitution. By the Right Reverend Richard, late Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells. Price 3 d.
DIrections for Communicants how to Celebrate the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's-Supper, according to the Prescription of the Church of England, laid down in a plain and familiar way, for the Use of all, but designed especially for the meanest Capacities. With Considerations and Exhortations to encourage our frequent Coming to that Table, &c.
THE Christian Education of Children. In a Letter to a Friend. In which are contain'd the Fundamental Truths of Religion, and the Duties of a Christian Life. Profitable for all sorts of Persons; but especially recommended to Schools of Charity. Printed for R. Sympson at the Harp in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1704.
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WHEREAS some Persons take the Liberty of putting out Sham-Papers, pretending to give an Account of the Malefactors that are Executed; in which Papers they are so defective & unjust, as sometimes to mistake even their Names and Crimes, and often quite misrepresent the State they plainly appear to be in under their Condemnation, and at the time of their Death: To prevent which great Abuses, These are to give Notice, That the only true Account of the Dying Criminals, is that which comes out the next Day after their Execution, about 8 in the Morning, the Title whereof constantly begins with these Words, The ORDINARY of NEWGATE his Account of the Behaviour, &c. In which Paper (the better to distinguish it from Counterfeits) are set down the Heads of the several Sermons preach'd before the Condemned; and after their Confessions and Prayers, an Attestation thereto under the Ordinary's Hand, that is, his Name at length; and at the bottom the Printer's Name,
J. Downing in Bartholomew-Close near West-Smithfield, 1704.