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


Contents    Introduction    Maps    Images    Chronology    Bibliography    Archival Resources

Editorial Annotations

Cornwall was part of the Oswegatchie circuit from 1792 until 1808, when it was formed into a separate circuit by William Snow (Cornish 195).

The assurance of salvation Bangs discusses here is different than the doctrine of assured salvation among Calvinists. Members of the elect, according to Calvinism, were unable to lose their salvation because they had been predestined by the inexorable will of God to eternal life. Arminian Methodists, on the other hand, held that salvation was open to all and that, after a saving knowledge of Christ was attained, individual believers were obliged to strive toward God in holiness or else risk the loss of their salvation. What Bangs is discussing here is not his inability to backslide and lose favour with God, but rather the ability of a Methodist believer to know, at any particular point in time, the status of his or her soul in the eyes of God.


Thursday Nov. 6 [Thursday 7 November 1805]

I preached at Cornwall and joined 6 in Society all of whom professed to have found Justifying Grace. May God defend and support them for Christ's sake. Have taken some cold, I feel somewhat unwell in body but my soul enjoys peace through Jesus Christ. But tho I have peace yet I have powerful besetments from the Enemy. I find my mind often led to meditate upon the immortality of the soul and am sometimes exceedingly harisd [harassed] with the uncertainty of it. (I mean Satan tempts me with it). The being of a God is closely connected with the immortality of the soul, the truth of scripture, and of course the whole of Christianity. I sometimes try to combat the Enemy with reason, and find the inherent testimony of Scripture['s] sacred & profane history doth mightily confirm my faith herein. The Scripture informs me of the miracles wrought by our Lord and his Apostles and other histories corroborates their testimony. Josephus relates that there appeared such a person as Jesus who was much famed for his miracles, and seems to doubt the propriety of calling him a mere man on that account. This I take to be a collateral evidence at least of the Divinity of our Lord and if that truth is established upon undeniable premises, all the rest must of necessity be true likewise. With such like reasonings I am greatly strengthened in my faith. But this would be insufficient were it not for the internal evidence of the Spirit of God which tears down all opposition. This spirit opens and applies the scripture to my soul, and makes me feel the necessity of the merits of Jesus to wash away my pollution. However harsh it may seem I conceive all unconverted sinners to be Athiests, not professedly, but practically. They deny in practice (and most of them in principal) the very essence of Christianity by rejecting the most convincing evidence which can be adduced in favour of the authenticity of the points of Revelation. If there is no such thing as our being assured of the favour of God, then scripture is false and our Lord and his Apostles are found false witnesses before God.

Now my experience teaches me that we may obtain and retain the assurance of God's favour. Scriptures teaches the same. Reason teaches the same. For it would be unreasonable for God to threaten us with Eternal Vengeance for not obtaining his favour, and yet never let us know when we had that favour. Hence then those who deny such knowledge to be attainable on Earth deny the truth of scripture, and of consequence the authority of our Lord and his Apostles, and all who preach the truth as it is [since the time of] Jesus are found false witnesses before God until this day. I believe there is a possibility of deceiving ourselves herein, but if the above arguments be fast there is such a thing as coming to a certainty. If so we know when we obtain that certainty, and such cannot be deceived. So then those who always doubt of their acceptance with God cannot be right. I say always for the best may doubt at sometimes, but if they are faithful they shall not be held in suspense long, for he that shall come, will come and will not tarry and will bring his perfect reward with him, with a divine conviction or evidence of his perfume to the soul. Faith is the medium through which this blessing is conveyed. Now a man cannot believe a thing which he knows nothing of. He might inform his Judgement then of what is contained in the sacred cannon [canon] according to the best evidence he can collect. Then secondly he must examine his heart to see if he has an experience of those things contained in God's book. If he finds himself wanting he must set himself carefully to seeking to the author of all good things. If he is a rational being he will force his reason (I mean contrary to his corrupt inclination) to submit to evidence, and, as the Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, he also must do violence to his evil passions, and according to the evidence forced upon his Judgement place his faith and force his passions to submit. If any man take this method and, I think, he will not long remain in doubt concerning the right way to happiness.

24 October 1805


28 November 1805

Primary Sources

David Smyth "Map of the Province of Upper Canada 1813" Detail showing Cornwall in the extreme eastern portion of the  Oswegatchie circuit

Josephus (c.37-100) Jewish Antiquities Josephus on Jesus (Testimonium Flavianum) (UNC Charlotte)



sacred canon: A phrase indicating the Christian Scriptures with apparent emphasis on their holiness and fixity.


Edited by Scott McLaren
Book History Practicum
University of Toronto