AT the Sessions held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily (by diverse Adjournments) on several Days, viz. on Wednesday the 1st, Monday the 6th, Tuesday the 7th, Thursday the 9th, and Saturday the 11th of this instant March, Four Women, that were indicted and arraign'd for Capital Crimes, and respectively found Guilty of the same, did accordingly receive Sentence Death. Of these, Three are Repriev'd by HER MESTY's gracious Mercy; and she, that is above-named, i now order'd for Execution.
Both before and after they were under this Condemnation, I visited them, pray'd with them, and gave them the best Instructions and Exhortations I could, suitable to their Cases; and this I did every Day, Morning and Afternoon, when they were brought up to the Chapel of Newgate; in which Place (chiefly) I taught them, and expounded the Word of God that I then read to them, and performed other Parts of Service to their Souls, in order to the reclaiming them from their Evil Ways, and bringing them from under the Dominion and Slavery of Sin and Satan. This was my constant Endeavour and Labour with them, and for them. And to this purpose (besides those Daily familiar Instructions) I preach'd several Sermons before them, viz.
On the Lord's Day the 5th instant, both in the Morning and Afternoon upon Psal. 109, the latter part of the 4th Verse. - But I give my self unto Prayer.
Having first shew'd them the occasion upon which David did thus resolve on his strict performance of this great Duty of Prayer, I then discoursed distinctly upon these Heads;
I. The Necessity of Prayer, or of our Application to a Powerful Being to supply our Wants.
II. The True Object of our Prayers; or, Who that Powerful Being is, whose Assistance we are thus to implore.
III. What Prayer is, and what is the particular Nature and Use of it, as it results from the two foregoing Heads, viz. The Sense, 1st, Of our own Weakness and Unworthiness; And 2dly, Of the Majesty and Omnipotence of God.
IV. The certain Success and Advantages attending our Prayers, when duely offer'd.
V. and lastly, The Requisites, or Conditions necessary for the acceptable and comfortable Performance of this important Duty.
On Wednesday the 8th instant, being the Anniversary Day of the QUEEN's happy Accession to the Throne, I preach'd both in the Forenoon and Afternoon to the Condemned, and others there present (as well Strangers as Prisoners) upon part of the Epistle appointed for the Day, viz. 1 Peter, 2 ch. 13 & 14 v. Submit your selves to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's sake: Whether it be to the King, as Supream; or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him; for the Punishment of Evil-doers, and for the Praise of them that do well.
I first explain'd the Text in general: And then I consider'd in particular these three Things, and the due import of them.
I. The Subjection and Obedience which we owe, and are commanded to pay to our Superiours, viz. To the King (saith the Text) as Supream; or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him.
II. The Obligation (not only Civil, but Religious) which is incumbent on us, thus to submit; thus to obey. 'Tis God Almighty's Appointment; which is meant by this Phrase. For the Lord's sake: And this must be also understood, According and conformable to the Lord's Will.
III. and lastly, The Reasonableness and Usefulness of our exact Performance of the Duty here enjoyn'd, and the excellent Advantages accruing from it, both to the Publick, and to Private Persons; in that, a good Government (which cannot subsist without Obedience to it) tends to the Suppression of Sin and Vice, and the Promotion and Advancement of Religion and Virtue. For this is evident from the Text, viz. That it is for the Correction and Punishment of Wicked Persons, and for the Support, Encouragement, and Reward of the Good, that Kings and Governours are ordained.
On the last Lord's Day, the 12th instant, I preach'd again to them, viz. in the Morning upon Luke 11. 28. (Part of the Gospel for the Day) But he said, Yea, rather Blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.
These Words, and their Context, I open'd and illustrated; and then laid down this Proposition, arising from them, viz. That God has been graciously pleas'd to make the Terms of Man's Salvation such, as that all may receive them and acquiesce in them: And, That though every one cannot have the Honour to be the Mother of Christ; yet every one that will not only and barely Hear, but also religiously Keep, the Word of God, and obey it, shall be Blessed. Such, and such only, He will accept, and account them as near and dear to Him, as his own Mother was: For this He tells us Himself, Mat. 12. 45. and Mark 3. 35. Whosoever shall do the Will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my Brother, and Sister, and Mother. And Luke 8. 21. My Mother and my Brethren are these (pointing to his Disciples) which Hear the Word of God, and Do it.
In speaking to this Proposition, I shew'd;
1st. That Men should be diligent to hear God's Word For, saith the Apostle, Rom. 10. 17. Faith comes by Hearing, and Hearing by the Word of God.
2dly. That they should take heed how they hear; as our Saviour advises, Luke 8. 18.
3dly, and lastly, That they should Believe, and Obey the Word, which they hear; and repent of their former Disobedience to it; and according to the Apostle's Admonition, Receive with Meekness the ingrafted Word, which is able to save their Souls. And be Doers of the Word, and not Hearers only, deceiving their own selves, Jam. 1. 21, 22.
Having gone through these Particulars, I then proceeded to treat of Faith, and Repentance; which Subject I prosecuted and inlarg'd upon, in the Afternoon.
At which time I preach'd upon these Words of the Apostle, Eph. 5. 14. Part of the Epistle for the Day, Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that Sleepest, and arise from the Dead, and Christ shall give thee Light.
For an Explanation of which Words, I first gave an Account of these three Things.
1st. Who is meant by this Pronoun He, and what is to be understood by this first, Clause of the Text, Wherefore He saith. And that is, 1st, God the Father, who (in the old time) preach'd to the World by his Servants the Patriarchs and Prophets; and by that Preaching convey'd Light into the Souls of them that would receive it and walk by it. And, 2dly, Christ, the Everlasting Son of the Father, who do's by his Apostles and their Successors (the Ministers of his Gospel) daily preach to, and call upon Sinners, to arise (by Faith and Repentance) from the Death of Sin, unto the Life of Righteousness; and encourages them thereto with the Promise of Eternal Light and Life.
2dly. What this Precept imports, which is thus doubled, Awake thou that Sleepest; Arise from the Dead. By this we are to understand, That Sinners in some respects may be said to be Asleep; and in other respects to be Dead: For they are full of Dreams and vain Imaginations, and as unfit for any good Action as they that are fast Asleep are unfit for any Thing that is Natural and Rational. And they are also as full of Stench, and Putrefaction, and Loathsomness, as they that are Dead. Therefore they are bid to awake from Sin, as a Sleep; and to arise from it, as a Death.
3dly. The last Thing mention'd here in the Text, is the Promise of a joyful and pleasant Light; which Christ will give us: And that is, 1st, The Light of Grace, Peace, and Comfort here: And 2dly, The Light of Eternal Glory and Felicity hereafter.
Having spoke distinctly and succinctly to each of these Particulars; I proceeded to the other General Head, upon which I discoursed more largely, shewing,
II. That by this Awaking from Sleep, and Arising from the Dead, and Receiving the Light of Christ, are principally meant those two great Things that are the Terms upon which the Promise of Mercy, Pardon, and Salvation is made to us in the Gospel, viz. Faith and Repentance. A Subject which Christ and his Apostles
insisted so much upon. Repent ye, and Believe the Gospel, are (as we may gather from Mark 1. 15) the very first Words of the first Sermon that was preach'd by Him, who came to reveal to us the Will of his (and our) Heavenly Father; and to teach us a New Spiritual Doctrine, by which we might be brought out of Darkness into his marvellous Light; and of the Devil's Slaves, and Children of Wrath, might be made the Sons and Daughters of God, and admitted into the glorious Liberty of his Children, &c.
Lastly; On Wednesday last, the 15th instant, being a Day appointed for the Publick Fast, to implore God's Mercy, Assistance, Protection and Favour, towards our Selves and Others, I preach'd both in the Morning and Afternoon, upon 1 Chron. 15. 1 & 2, the Words being these: And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the Son of Obed. And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin, The Lord is with You, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of You: But if ye forsake Him, He will forsake You.
Which Words I first explain'd, with their Context; giving an Account of the Occasion of them; and then I shew'd, That the Text is partly Promissory, and partly Minatory, that is Threat'ning.
I. In the Promissory Part, we have these Particulars, viz. 1st. The Matter of the Promise, which is, That God will be with us.
2dly. The Condition of this Promise, viz. That if we will be with God, He will be with us.
II. In the Minatory Part, we have these, viz.
1st. The Thing which God threatens, and that is, That when we forsake Him, He will forsake us, and depart from us.
2dly, The Thing suppos'd, which is this: If we forsake Him, i. e. if we desert, and abandon, and depart from Him, and his Service, it will make Him leave us to our selves; than which, a more deplorable and wretched state cannot be imagin'd.
III. and lastly, What is fit for us to do, that we may have, and keep with us continually, GOD's gracious Presence, by which we shall enjoy his desirable Favour, Blessing, Protection, and Comfort, under the various Circumstances of Life here in this World; and then at last, obtain in the other, that Fulness of Joy, and those ravishing, glorious, and unspeakable Pleasures, which are in his Presence, and at his right Hand for evermore, as Holy David expresses it, Psal. 16. 12.
All these Eight Sermons I concluded with proper Exhortations to my Auditory. And of them I have here given so much the larger Account, because I now intend to say nothing here of the Persons that are Reprieved, but only, That I heartily wish (for their own, as well as others Good) That they would henceforth take effectual care to lead a new Life. And for her who is now order'd for Execution, what I have to say as to her Confession, is, That she was very sparing in the opening of her Heart to me in the Matter of the Murther she was found guilty of, and condemn'd for. I press'd her very much to be free, true, and sincere. And so did likewise other Divines, and several other serious Christians, (among whom there were some of her Friends and Acquaintance) that came to see her. But she would not be perswaded to make a full Confession, neither by Them, nor by my Self. Sometimes indeed she own'd, That she was present when (on the 26th of February last, at night) James Peters, who was her Sweetheart, and by her let into the House that Night, committed that barbarous Murther upon Mrs. Elizabeth Blundel, House-keeper in the Earl of Torrington's Family, in which herself was also a Servant ; and, That this James Peters would have had her held the Candle to him, while he did the Fact; but instead of helping him therein, she took the Candle, and threw it upon the ground, and went towards the Window of the Room (where that Bloody Action was done) with an intent to cry out Murther; but she durst not, for fear of being also murthered herself. At other times she was quite in another Tale: For she would positively deny her being then in that Room; but said, she was in the Kitchin below Stairs, when this happen'd; and, That she knew nothing of the Murther, till James Peters told her of it, which was after they had packt up my Lord's Plate, and carry'd it away; in which Robbery she acknowledg'd she was concerned, both with another Woman, and the said Peters, who was that Woman's Acquaintance, as well as her own. She said, that Woman had given her so much Wine and strong Drink, that Night, that she was very much fuddled, so that she did not know what she then did. Yet she now pretended, that she could very-well remember, That after they had carry'd away the Goods thus stoln by them three, Peters charg'd her (if she was taken) not to discover that the said Woman knew any thing of the Murther, but take it upon herself; saying, that she was the only Person present at it, and assisting him in it. Which she told me was the reason of her owning (as she did several times) That she was aiding and assisting in that Murther. But now she deny'd it. Wherein I find she greatly prevaricated, and spoke against the Truth.
This is the Substance of what she then declared concerning these two heinous Facts, viz. The Murther of her Lord's House-keeper, and the Robbery of his Lordship's Plate; for both which she was condemned to this sad and untimely Death, in the very Bloom of her Age; she telling me, she was not yet 19 years old. To all this she added, That she was born of honest Parents at Barton in Lincolnshire; That they had given her a good Education; but she could not say, she had lived up to it; That above 2 years since she came up to London, and had (during that time) been in Service, in 4 or 5 Families in the said City, and in that of Westminster, and had till this time wrong'd none of her Masters or Mistresses, but her late Mistress, with whom she lived before she came to the Earl of Torrington's Family, in which she had been but 3 days when those notorious Facts of Murther and Robbery were committed there: And that for the wrong she had done to that Mistress it was not great; she having stolen from her, only an old Shift, an Handkerchief, some pieces of Holland, and a pair of old Sleeves. Here she confess'd also (tho' with much difficulty and reluctance) That she had stolen several Pieces of Gold, about 31 Guineas, one Half-Guinea, a double Guinea-piece, and a Broad-piece or two of Gold, which were in a green Silk Purse in Mr. Bourn's Closet, who was her Master. She had been ask'd several Questions, and she told as many formal Lies, about this Matter; but at last she confess'd it. And when she had so done, I endeavour'd to make her (but she did not then seem to be) sensible of her wretched and deprav'd Nature, which had carry'd her up to that high degree of Wickedness, as to dwell so long in her Obstinate Denial of a Fact, which her very Conscience (if she had any) could not but reproach her continually with the Commission of. Thus much for this particular Crime, which prepar'd her for a greater; as some smaller Thefts she had us'd herself to, when in the Country, had prepar'd her for these.
But further she confess'd, That she had been highly Guilty of that which is the Devil's Sin in 'special manner; and that is, Pride, which had led her into that of Coveteousness, another odious Sin, that often proves (as it did in this Case) the Parent of Theft and Murther, and is likewise many times attended with several other Crimes. Peters had fed her up with Fancies, that when they had got a good Booty, he would make her live very high, and would keep her like a Lady: So that (it seems) she did not stick at any thing to be advanced to that exalted State: Which, when I put the Question to her, Whether it was not really so, she did not deny.
Now what more to say of her I cannot tell, but only this, That at last she was so far wrought upon, as to be brought to confess, That she stood in the Passage near Mrs. Blundel's Chamber, when Peters murther'd her. And when she was thereupon ask'd these Questions severally, viz. 1st, Whether she did not see him give the Blow or Blows? 2dly, Whether she did not hear any Blows given, or any Noise made in the Room? 3dly, Whether indeed she did not shew Peters the way to that Room? 4thly, Whether she did not go in her self with him? 5thly, Whether she held not the Candle to him while he was committing or going about to commit that most barbarous Fact? 6thly, Whether she had not given him the Wooden Pestle with which he did it? And Lastly, Whether she did not help him to search that poor murther'd Gentlewoman's Pockets, and rob her, as (by her own Confession) she had assisted him in the robbing the House, and carrying the Goods away?
All these Questions being put to her, and she being closely press'd to give her positive Answers thereto, either Yea, or No; She then would say nothing at all.
At the Place of her Execution, to which she was this day carry'd from Newgate in a Cart, I attended her for the last time. I exhorted her again and again to consider well whither she was a going; and to see, that she did not carry the Guilt of any Sin unrepented of into the other World, which would make her miserable and burn in Hell-fire for ever. I press'd her therefore to clear her Conscience, and make a more free and open Confession than she had yet done, of the Murther she was now to die for. To which she reply'd, That She was present at it, and consenting to it.
After some proper Exhortations, I pray'd, and sung some Penitential Psalms with her, making her rehearse the Apostle's Creed. I pray'd again, and desired in her behalf (which she herself afterwards also desir'd) the Prayers of the Standers by. Then I committed her to God, and so withdrew. When I was retired, she had some farther time allow'd her for her private Devotions. And while she was calling upon God for Mercy the Cart drew away, and she was turned off.
This is all the Account here to be given of this dying Person, by me
Friday, Mar. 17. 1709/1710.