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

 

Contents    Introduction    Maps    Images    Chronology    Bibliography    Archival Resources

Editorial Annotations


Bangs's deep familiarity with the Bible is displayed in this entry where he weaves, probably from memory, ten identifiable Old and New Testament texts (or allusions to texts) into a single heartfelt and highly introspective narrative.

Given that Bangs had been ordained an elder by this time and was about to organize the first Methodist camp meeting in Upper Canada, his spiritual insecurities may strike some readers as bizarre or even feigned. One must recall, however, that Wesleyan theology not only put the onus of choosing salvation on the individual, but also required its followers to to strive for a life of perfect holiness each day. Indeed, insecurities like Bangs's were not uncommon among Methodists of the period and were even used as evidence that Methodist conversions were not wholly genuine. In 1791, for example, James Lackington, writing as a lapsed Methodist, published a memoir that condemned Methodism for its excessive enthusiasm and the ongoing spiritual fear it seemed to foster among its converts. When Bangs himself encountered Lackington's book circulating in Upper Canada in 1801 it  seriously shook his faith (Steven 86). 

 

Wednesday 17 [July 1805]

I am yet striving to move in the circle of duty, and the Lord meets me at every turn. The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich and he addeth no sorrow with it [Pr 10.22]. When the pure unmixt love of God reigns in the soul we have perfect enjoyment. But I fear sometimes my wine is mixed with water [Is 1.22] that some earthly good shares in my affections. Death seems often a great terror to me, which makes me fear that all is not as it should be. My only refuge in this respect is to fix my faith in this manner. I believe that now I have peace with God through Jesus Christ [Rm 5.1], and I am endeavouring to be conformable to the image of God [cf. Rm 8.29], both inwardly and outwardly and in this I find peace and Joy. I believe if I am faithful in improving my talent [cf. Mt 25.14-28] God will perfect the work in my Soul and when I am ripe God will cast me down, and give me Grace to stand the shock. That he who now supplies my wants will also supply them in the hour of death. This is the antidote which I find to ease the pains of death, and then by grace I am striving to die dayly [1 Cor 15.31], and am praying that as my outward man decayeth, the inward man may be renewed day by day [cf. 2 Cor 5.17]. If I miss my mark I am gone forever, but I cannot doubt upon those principals for I have God's word, that he will give Grace and Glory and no good thing will He withhold from those that walk uprightly [Ps 84.11]. Yea as an Eagle stirreth up her might, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, and beareth them [Dt 32.11], so doth the Lord shelter those that trust in him. O my soul trust thou in the Lord for he is thy shield and thy exceeding great reward [Gn 15.1].

God gives me to see some little fruit of my labours which more than compensates for all my toil. I esteem it the greatest of all blessings to be instrumental in saving souls from death, but O if after I have preached to others I myself should become a castaway, How intolerable my misery; How deep my hell; How endless my torments. Great God be merciful unto me a Sinner. Let my own soul be fed with those truths which I administer to others through Jesus Christ my Lord.
 

15 July 1805

Manuscript

29 July 1805

Edited by Scott McLaren
Book History Practicum
University of Toronto