By Michael McGiffert
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Extra info for God's Plot: Puritan Spirituality in Thomas Shepard's Cambridge
2 A year or so later his mother died, and the little boy, 1 My interpretation of Shepard's character, and of the character of English Puritanism in Shepard's generation, is indebted to Michael Walzer's brilliant book, The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965). 2 Except as otherwise noted, quotations are from Shepard's Autobiography. Page 4 who had been shuffled from relative to relative, suffered the distempered administrations of stepmother and schoolmaster.
But if anxiety could not be abolishedinfused as it was throughout the very structures of thought and feeling by which Puritans sought to master their unsettlednessperhaps it could be so managed as to prevent weak souls from being driven to distraction. Perhaps it could even be made to tell positively on behalf of assurance itself. It became the great problem of Puritan piety to maintain anxiety while simultaneously converting it into assurance. Shepard's Journal, read in conjunction with his sermons, shows how the problem could be solved.
111. 48Ten Virgins, II, 245. 49Church Membership of Children, III, 517. "50 The evangelical hypocrite would be a zealous churchman and good citizen, have a choice character, display the insignia of grace, bear the name of Christian and sincerely believe himself to be "wrapped up" in the Covenant; he would, in short, go the whole way to the Celestial Gates, trusting and humbleonly to find the Gates shut against him. "51 Yet in consideration of the Journal, through which Shepard's suspicions of his own evangelical hypocrisy run like threads of fire, the reader will not be surprised at the remark of Shepard's older colleague Nathaniel Ward that "when Mr.
God's Plot: Puritan Spirituality in Thomas Shepard's Cambridge by Michael McGiffert