He was 17th-century England's most visible pastor, a prolific, popular, and controversial author, a powerful preacher, married to his parish, passionate for the conversion of souls and for the reformation of England's church. He was a man in a hurry, his days crammed with writing projects, sermon preparation, systematically scheduled meetings with the 800 families from the parish, and whatever other surprises a minister's day might hold.

She was, when she first met him, a superficial and self-centered teenager nearly half his age, from a family of means, who grudgingly accompanied her mother to hear him preach and ended up soundly converted to Christ. Not long after her conversion, she was stricken by "consumption," most likely tuberculosis, and lay for a month close to death. He gathered his inner circle of praying friends. Their prayers for her recovery resulted in a sudden cure that was widely noted as God's gracious intervention in her life.

But for all of his pastoral, preaching, and intellectual gifts, he was a difficult man: irritable and prone to speaking or writing his mind when prudence might respond otherwise. He also suffered constantly from a debilitating array of illnesses, made even worse when we remember that existing medical "treatments" often did more harm than good.

Under his ministry, she deepened into an articulate and sensitive soul, troubled by both the needs of others and her own frustratingly slow progress as a Christian. Childhood traumas resulted in lifelong struggles with irrational fear. She suffered from migraines and was periodically obsessed with worries over her health. Overly fragile with regards to the attitudes and responses of those closest to her, she struggled with forgiveness and "letting ...

Subscriber Access OnlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Already a CT subscriber? for full digital access.