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A History Of The Methodist Episcopal Church Volume Iii by Nathan Bangs, D.D.


A History Of The

Methodist Episcopal Church

By Nathan Bangs, D.D.

Volume III, Published in 1841 (From The Year 1816 To The Year 1828)


The favorable manner in which the first and second volumes of this History have been received, induces me to add a third, in the hope that it may increase the stock of useful information in reference to the work which God has wrought in this country by the instrumentality of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

In the conclusion of the second volume it was remarked, that it was my intention, when the History was commenced, to bring it down near to the present time, in two volumes; but, as I proceeded in the work, it was found impracticable to fulfill this intention, without such an abridgment as would either compel me to omit some important transactions and edifying incidents, or so to shorten them as to render them uninstructive and uninteresting. I was therefore compelled, contrary to my first design, to close the second volume in the year 1816.

That this alteration in the plan at first contemplated has been generally approved of, I have evidence from numerous testimonies. Indeed, the greatest fault I have heard, from those who are disposed to judge charitably of my work, has been, that it is not sufficiently particular, or that its details are not as numerous as is desired. This defect, however, if it be one, I am unable to remedy, as I have, with but few exceptions, wrought up all the materials within my reach, unless I were injudiciously to encumber the volume with irrelevant matter.

The present volume, however, I consider rich in matter, particularly in relation to the doings of the General Conference, and to the enlargement of our work by means of our Missionary Society, and other auxiliary appliances. And I have endeavored to give such a detailed account of the origin, character, and progress of this society as will, if the history be continued on the same plan, supersede the necessity of a separate history of that institution. Indeed, this society, together with the tract, Sunday school, and education causes, is so interwoven in our general plan of operations, that a history of our Church would be quite imperfect which did not embrace a narrative of these things.

It being desirable to have the alphabetical list of preachers unbroken, it has been thought advisable to transfer that list from the third to the fourth volume; and the more so as that volume is sufficiently large without it, containing, as it does, upward of four hundred pages.

In adverting to this list I consider it proper to mention the following facts, as furnishing good reasons for an apology for any errors which have been or may be detected, in the spelling of names, dates, or otherwise.
1. In regard to the orthography [ spelling -- DVM] of proper names I have, found insuperable difficulties. The same name I have in frequent instances found differently spelled in the printed Minutes even for the same year -- one way perhaps when admitted on trial, and another in the stations -- and then the next year differently from either of the two. In this confusion who is to decide which is right. It is true that some names, particularly those found in the sacred Scriptures, though these are by no means uniformly alike in their orthography in the Old and New Testaments, owing to the different usages of the Hebrew and Greek languages -- and in the Greek and Latin classics, have a fixed orthography; but in most instances proper names are spelled as whim or fancy would dictate, some families, even of their own accord, either dropping or adding a letter or letters. And this confusion and difficulty exist in a peculiar degree in the United States, made up, as the citizens are, from almost every nation under heaven, and therefore having names, the orthography of which is peculiar to the several nations from which they came, or to the ancestors from whom they have descended. If any one can unravel this tangled skein, and teach us how to spell every proper name correctly, he will perform a task for which I confess myself inadequate. Or if any one will take the Minutes of our conferences and decide which of the varying orthographies of some names is the correct one, he shall receive my thanks, and will merit the thanks of all concerned. But as the secretaries of the annual conferences, editors, and printers were not able to control this perplexing business at the times the Minutes were prepared and printed, I hope to be pardoned if I should fail to make every thing of this sort entirely accurate.
2. But this is by no means the most serious difficulty which I have had to encounter. In several instances I have found preachers returned located, and in three instances expelled, who were never admitted into full connection. Such names I have generally omitted altogether, as I have taken no account of mere probationers in the traveling ministry.
3. In numerous instances I have found that certain preachers were located, readmitted, and then located again, twice, thrice, and even four times. In such cases I have, as far as I could ascertain the fact, fixed the date of their location the last time mentioned, with a view to give them credit for at least all the years they may have traveled. On this account, those who may compare the list in this volume -- which has been thoroughly revised -- with the one appended to the second, will find that several who were recorded as located before, or in the year 1816, are herein returned as having located at a later date, because they re-entered the traveling ministry, continued for a shorter or longer time, and then located again.
4. In a few instances persons have been expelled by an annual conference, and afterward, on an appeal, restored by the General Conference. This may have led to some errors in these returns, though I trust but few.
5. In some instances preachers were continued on trial for more than two years and not adverting to that fact while preparing the list for the former volume, and taking their names as they stand recorded in answer to the question, |Who are admitted into full connection?| such were returned as received a year later than was actually the case. So far as this fact has been ascertained, the correction has been made in the present list.
6. In many cases it has been difficult to ascertain the precise year in which a preacher died. In the body of the History I have, in recording deaths, generally followed the order of the Minutes, and recorded them as having died in the course of the preceding year; but in the alphabetical list I have endeavored to ascertain the year in which each preacher died. As, however, some of the records are indefinite in this particular, I have been guided by the most probable conjecture. There are, however, I believe, but few cases of this character.

When the reader duly considers these perplexing discrepancies and defects, he will be prepared to make some allowance for the unavoidable errors which grow out of them; and the more so, when he considers that this History has been written by a hand equally fallible as those which prepared the authorized records.

Some unintentional omissions of names in the former volume are supplied in this; and if others should be detected, as doubtless they will be, the correction will be made with the more pleasure, because it will add to the perfection of the work. The reader may rest assured, however, that no pains have been spared by either the author or printer to make every thing as accurate as possible; and hence, if errors are detected, he must attribute them to a want of ability, under the circumstances, to avoid them.

To God, -- who alone is absolutely perfect, but whose boundless mercy inclines him to pardon the aberrations of his creatures, for the sake of his Son Jesus Christ, be ascribed the honor and glory for what he has done for this branch of his Church.

N. BANGS. New York, Jan.1, 1840.

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