Pedicord Preaches at a Hanging

During the American Revolution, Joe Molliner and a group of gangsters preyed upon the people living along the New Jersey coast, chiefly in Monmouth and Atlantic Counties, robbing wherever they could and often burning what they could not carry to the swamp where they camped. Finally a posse of citizens was organized, and in 1781 captured Molliner, taking him to Burlington. There he remained imprisoned six weeks, during which he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. During his imprisonment a Methodist minister, Caleb B. Pedicord, and his associates visited Molliner, prayed and pled with him to yield his soul to Christ. At first the condemned man was alarmed; then repented and gave proof “that God for Christ’s sake had pardoned all his sins.” He became happy and his cell was radiant with his new-found joy.

On his last day a great throng gathered to witness his execution. A company of soldiers escorted the wagon containing Molliner and his coffin and three Methodist ministers-Pedicord, Cromwell, and Budd-as it passed over Ewling’s Bridge toward Gallows Hill, halting under the tree where he was to be hanged. Molliner addressed the crowds, confessed his sins and asked the prayers of the people. As Molliner knelt in silent prayer, Pedicord preached a sermon to the people who wept and sobbed while they listened. Another preacher offered prayer. As they rose, Molliner gave out a hymn. After singing, he shouted: “I’ve found Him I’ve found Him! Now I am ready.” He adjusted the rope to his neck, bade all farewell and said, “I am ready; drive off ” The wagon was driven from beneath his feet, he struggled a moment, and then death released his soul.

This article was taken from the book entitled “One Hundred and One Methodist Stories” by Carl F. Price and published by the Methodist Book Concern.

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