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


Contents    Introduction    Maps    Images    Chronology    Bibliography    Archival Resources

Editorial Annotations

"Solemn warnings" describing unrepentant sinners being punished through loss of reason, wealth, or life, are common throughout the literature of early Methodism. Occasionally the sinners at the centre of such tales do repent and find their fortunes restored. At the very least, they enter the next world with assurance concerning their final reward. Bangs records the events of the "laughing woman" in his autobiography adding that "When I heard of her death I was shocked" (186).

Playter's narrative on divine retribution to the right is an abridged version of the same story described by Stevens in Bangs's biography as the tale of W.

Saturday [September] 14 [1805] 

My soul has been much blessed of the Lord of late [with] which I have been endeavouring to water the Souls of the Disciples. I am certain that my soul increases in spiritual might and I have but one choice, that is to render all my words and actions subservient to the advancement of the work of Religion in my soul. This I know is the will of God towards me. In striving to do this my minutes flows [sic] sweetly away, and time seems to be on the wing. Not a dull hour now hangs upon me. Once time seemed to run to slow, but for these 12 Months past I have sometimes found it difficult to keep pace with. having had a tolerable state of bodily health and enjoying much of the peace of God upon my soul and by devoting myself to God, I have found continual employment for body and mind. And O how sweet it is to employ every moment for God, and to feel his precious love in my soul. This is heaven begun on Earth. Our heaven must begin here in order to have a heaven hereafter.

A very solemn circumstance happened not long since which, when I heard made me shudder. Two weeks ago last Sabbath [25 August 1805] I preached at a place where the preachers have laboured for some years off and on, without any apparent fruit. The text which came to my mind was  "And in hell he lift up his eyes being in torment" [Lk 16.20-31]. The Lord enabled me to preach strong words. Among others there was a giddy young woman who employed herself in laughing. I reproved her more than once to no effect. I then said I did not know who, or what she was but I thought if the Neighbours were permitted to speak, I expected they would tell me some bad story, that she was be [a] fornicator or something, and that it was a wonder if she was not in hell soon if she did not repent. It seems she went home in a rage[,] received a hurt by a fall, caught-cold, weakened and died in about a week: An awful warning to those who make a sport of the worship of God. Lord have mercy upon all souls who know not what they do, through Jesus Christ [cf. Lk 23.34].

9 September 1805


5 October 1805

Primary Sources

G.F. Playter History of Methodism in Canada Playter on Divine Retribution

Abel Stevens Life and Times of Nathan Bangs The destruction of W. for "rejecting the offer of salvation"

Abel Stevens Life and Times of Nathan Bangs Bangs on the "thoughtless young man"





Edited by Scott McLaren
Book History Practicum
University of Toronto