In his autobiography, Thomas Shepard (1605–1649), pastor in Newtown, Massachusetts, described the anxieties leading to his conversion. Brief excerpts:

The first two years I spent in Cambridge was in studying and in much neglect of God and private prayer I fell from God to loose and lewd company to lust and pride and gaming and bowling and drinking.

I drank so much one day that I was dead drunk. And when I awakened I went out into the fields and there spent that Sabbath lying hid in the cornfields where the Lord who might justly have cut me off in the midst of my sin did meet me with much sadness of heart and trou bled my soul for this and other my sins.

Three main wounds

I did see my atheism, I questioned whether there were a God, and my unbelief, whether Christ was the Messiah, whether the Scriptures were God's word or no I felt all manner of temptations to all kind of religions, not knowing which I should choose, whether if I had been educated up among the Papists I should not have been as verily persuaded that Popery is the truth.

After many prayers, meditations, duties, the Lord let me see three main wounds in my soul:(1) I could not feel sin as my greatest evil; (2)I could do nothing but I did seek myself in it and was imprisoned there, and though I desired to be a preacher, yet it was honor I did look to like a vile wretch; (3)I felt a depth of atheism and unbelief.

Because I did question whether Christ did cast out devils from Beelzebub, etc., I did think and fear I had [committed the unpardonable sin), and now the terrors of God began to break in like floods of fire into my soul. For three quarters of a year this temptation did last, and I had some strong temptations to run my head against walls and brain and kill ...

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