The Journals & Notebook of
 Nathan Bangs 1805-1806, 1817


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Editorial Annotations

This partial entry recorded on a single detached leaf is, judging from the handwriting and size of the paper, part of Bangs's American notebook. it is numbered 49 on the recto and 50 on the verso. Although a fragment and undated, its content suggests that the events it recounts took place while Bangs was riding the Bay of Quinte circuit between May 1802 and April 1804. Stevens assigns these events, doubtless on the strength of Bangs's ms. autobiography, to October of 1802. 

There are some striking differences between this account, probably written in late 1816 or early 1817, and Stevens's later published account of 1863. In addition to the fact that events are reorganized and tensions passed over in silence, Stevens does not indicate that Bangs actually entered the Quaker meeting house, nor does he describe the prominent role played by the nameless Quaker woman in this scene. See right-hand pane for Stevens's account in his biography of Bangs.


[Retrospective entry: October 1802]

[...] for help, he opened the door, and marched away. None of these things moved me nor turned me aside from my duty. Nothing pained me so much in this place, as the malconduct of some who made high pretension to piety and under its guise practiced abominations, by which the cause of God was wounded, and some, who were serious, were turned out of the way. My youth and inexperience exposed me to many impositions and some importunities. Some expressions which I used, on particular occasions in preaching, I use[d] by no means justly, although I thought at the time I did right. Young preachers need the council [counsel] of the wise, the good, and the aged. But I know God gave me a sincere desire to glorify his Name, and seek the salvation of souls; but my zeal was not always tempered with that knowledge, which is necessary to teach us so to ask that our good many not be evil spoken of. My soul, nevertheless, was kept from sinning against God & from any other desire than to do his sacred will.

After I ended my sermon one day, a plain man arose and spoke afterwards in substance as follows That since he had been hearing he had had a great travel of soul to speak of the mystery of the Angel mentioned in the revelations, flying through the midst of heaven having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth; which Gospel, he said he had heard, and exhorted the people to take heed of it [cf. 2 Cor 12.2]. In conversation with him afterwards, he acknowledged the Quakers were a fallen people. I found, however, that he was not an approved member among them; although I have no doubt he had experienced the love of God.

There being a large settlement of these people on Young-street I had frequent appointments of conversing with them and read many of their books. One day, passing the house in which they convened for worship, and understanding it was their appointed day, I stopped and went in. I sat down and one of the women (There being only two females present) said, "Friend, if thou has any to say we are willing to hear thee." I replyed "I have something at present." The people being collected, and having sat in silence some time, this woman rose and said, "There is a woe[?] gone forth against false ministers," and then sat down. After a while she rose again and said, "I judge no one, and if there be none here let this preacher a watch [ink blot]." As there were none in the house, who bore the characteristic of a minister but myself, I concluded she was pointing at me. When they commenced shaking hands, which is a token of closing their worship, I rose, and said "Whence the spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty and if there be no objections, I have a desire to speak." After a few minutes passed they sat down again, as I supposed giving me thereby Liberty to proceed. I mentioned those words The spirit itself bearest witness with our spirits that we are the children of God [Rom 8.6]; and spoke on them perhaps about 15 minutes. Ceasing to speak, one by the name of Timothy Magers rose and said, "As thou has spoken to us, I am [...]

January 1802

Autumn 1800

Primary Sources

Abel Stevens Life and Times of Nathan Bangs Encounter with the Quakers of Yonge-street

Nathan Bangs Letters to Young Ministers of the Gospel Bangs's advice "in regards to preaching"

David Smyth "Map of the Province of Upper Canada 1813" Detail showing region around Yonge Street in the Home district.



Quakers: Also known as "The Society of Friends," Quakerism began as a dissenting sect in 17th century England. It has no official hierarchy and no formal creeds. In contrast to Methodist beliefs, the Bible is secondary to an "Inner Light" that is believed to illuminate truth for each believer.

exhortation: A short sermon not based directly on a biblical text that usually followed a more traditional sermon. Among the earliest Methodists women were as likely to function as "exhorters" as men.


Edited by Scott McLaren
Book History Practicum
University of Toronto