On leaving home

Then at the command of God, on the ninth day of the seventh month 1643, I left my relations and broke off all familiarity or fellowship with young or old.

Now during the time that I was at Barnet, a strong temptation to despair came over me. Then I saw how Christ was tempted, and mighty troubles I was in; sometimes I kept myself retired in my chamber, and often walked solitary in the Chase there, to wait upon the Lord. I wondered whether I had forsaken my relations I had done amiss against them; But temptations grew more and more, and I was tempted almost to despair. I was about twenty years of age when these exercises came upon me. I continued in that condition some years, in great trouble, and fain would have put it from me. I went to many a priest to look for comfort, but found no comfort from them.

From Barnet I went to London, where I took a lodging, and was under great misery and trouble there. I returned homewards into Leicestershire again, having a regard unto my parents and relations lest I should grieve them-who I understood were grieved at my absence.

My relations would have had me marry, but I told them I was but a lad, and I must get wisdom. Others would have had me into the auxiliary band among the soldiery, but I refused; and I was grieved that they proffered such things to me, being a tender youth.

After this I went to another ancient priest at Mancetter, in Warwickshire, and reasoned with him about the ground of despair and temptations; but he was ignorant of my condition, he bade me take tobacco and sing psalms. Tobacco was a thing I did not love, and psalms I was not in a state to sing-I could not sing.

After this I went to another, one Macham, a priest in high account. He would needs give me some physic, and I was to have them let blood; but they could not get one drop from me my body being as it were dried up with sorrows, grief and troubles.

When the time called Christmas came, while others were feasting and sporting themselves, I looked out poor widows from house to house, and gave them some money. When I was invited to marriages (as I sometimes was) I went to none at all, but the next day or soon after I would go and visit them, and if they were poor I gave them some money-for I had wherewith both to keep myself from being chargeable to others, and to administer something to the necessities of [those who were in need].