Thomas Shepard, minister of the Cambridge church, stands out among the first generation of settlers in Massachusetts Bay as a rigorous-minded Puritan driven by his piety. Shepard's Autobiography and Journal are extremely valuable sources for an understanding of the perennially fascinating Puritan mind. The Autobiography reveals the arduous physical and mental life of the Puritans--the persecutions in England, the tempestuous Atlantic crossing and, always, the inner turmoil of a lifelong search for the meaning of God's ways. The Journal, written between 1640 and 1644, toward the end of Shepard's life, takes the reader who is willing to grapple with issues of faith and doctrine deeply into the psychology of the Puritan. The publication of these two works constitutes a significant contribution to Puritan scholarship from both a literary and an historical point of view.
Newly transcribed from the original manuscripts, the volume has been edited by a leading specialist in Puritan studies, Professor Michael McGiffert of the University of Denver. He has also written a perceptive introduction, guiding the reader with a sure hand through the labyrinth of Puritan spirituality. The last edition of the Autobiography appeared more than forty years ago. The Journal, published in an incomplete version by Thomas Prince in 1747, is now printed for the first time in its entirety.
Professor Edmund S. Morgan of Yale University has commented about the Journal, "I know of no other unpublished manuscript of comparable importance by a first-generation New England minister."
God's Plot is the first volume in The Commonwealth Series of the University of Massachusetts Press. Under the general editorship of Professor Winfred E.A. Bernhard, the series will present new scholarly editions of classic works revealing the cultural development of New England.