This letter was written by David Demarest (1806-1884), the son of Albert David Demarest (1777-1856). David was married to Sarah Darling (1808-1861).
David wrote the letter to his cousin, Isaac Sherwood (1799-1886). Isaac was married to Hannah Adams (1802-1877) in 1823.
The cousins appear to have hailed from the vicinity of Wantage Township, Essex, New Jersey.
Addressed to Isaac Sherwood, Haverstraw, Rockland County [New York]
New York [New York]
February 16th 1841
Dear Brother in the Lord, I acknowledge the receipt of 2 letters from you this year and my indebtedness to you for the same. I had purposed and strongly desired to answer your first one but many unavoidable circumstances seemed to hinder. I am happy, however, to say that your last communication does not entirely [demand] the necessity of any argumentative reply to some things contained in your first. Nevertheless, I will here state the reason of my not coming up to the dedication which I had determined to do even up to the Monday of the same week. That day a friend offered to set me immediately to work and give me a job through the winter, which I gladly accepted and consequently could not come up. This was quite a disappointment, yet no doubt a Providential one. I was glad in my heart to hear from you, so favorable and interesting account of matters and things — especially Br. Pittman’s very feeling sermon and the consequent revival of religion among saints and sinners. And though you then seemed to make light of it, I began to think the good Lord had touched your heart. I see as you say that you got along very well without me, not only in the dedication of the church, but also in the dedication of yourselves to God. To him be the glory and praise forever.
We were agreeably surprised and struck with astonishment to hear the glorious news of your conversion and salvation and the very extensive and general revival with which Haverstraw has been graciously favored. We were ready to exclaim is it possible that Isaac and Hannah have experienced religion? Your testimony of the fact, and the certainty of the fact we could not doubt, so that we inwardly rejoiced with joy unspeakable, while from our eyes gushed a fountain of tears. But while we thus rejoiced on your behalf, it was with trembling, for sorrow had already filled our hearts, and trouble like a gloomy cloud had gathered thick and thundered loud. Before us lay little Phebe Maria in the cold embrace of death. While at the same time we were all in fearful suspense in regard to the life of our darling boy. We were all at Eliza’s when your letter came and after I had read it through or when I came to that part where you request[ed] us to lay aside the work we might be at and get upon our knees to pray for your faithful continuance of well doing, Mother exclaimed, “Ah, how would Hannah and Isaac feel if they knew our situation and affliction? Little do they think that Sissy is dead and Babley so poor.” Phebe was taken on the 28th of January with the Remitting Fever and died on the 1st of February with the inflammation on the brain. Mother went there on Saturday and staid with her all night, and on Sunday they sent us word that they thought her dying, so we took the Babe and went there. She did not die, however, until the next day about 11 o’clock in the morning. In the afternoon of the same day, little Myers was taken very sick with some fever which was accompanied or followed with the inflammation on the lungs. On Wednesday or Thursday, he was leached on the chest, which have him a temporary relief, but he soon was as bad as ever. On Friday evening, a blister was applied, and now his situation was such that we were between hope and despair, but rather forced to incline to the latter. Saturday morning he appeared considerable better until in the afternoon about three o’clock we discovered a serious change for the worse. The dropsy of the chest had set in and had extended its influence through the whole system. We now began to feel for a certainty that the time was fast approaching when this darling of our affections would be torn from our embrace and released from its sufferings to enjoy a happier state in a better clime. At 2 o’clock on Sunday morning, our anticipations were realized. Early on that day of rest, the cherub’s spirit of our sweet babe entered the Eternal Sabbath of Rest. “For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
On the following day, being Monday the 8th of February, we had to part with his lifeless (but still beautiful) form and convey him to the dark and cheerless vault where but the previous Tuesday little Phebe Maria was laid. There may they rest undisturbed until the resurrection morn. On Monday evening, we for the first returned home and you may be sure it was with sad and heavy hearts. For though we had often felt the force and sweetness of that sentiment as expressed in these words, “There’s no place like home” — especially when that home was not only endeared to us by the mutual affection and tender sympathy which should inspire the bosoms of pledged partners and companions for life, but by the additional comfort of an innocent and interesting offspring who was the idol of our hearts. We now almost felt as though we had no home on earth and truly we have not, for this world is not our home. This world is a wilderness of woe. This world is not our home. Our home is over Jordan where the wicked ceased from trembling and the weary are at rest.
At present we are tolerable well. Sarah has been sick several days since the child’s death but has recovered again. Mother is as smart as usual. Eliza and Abram and little Sarah are well, but we all feel more or less the effects of our late fiery trial through which we have passed.
You say you wish I was there to assist in the meeting and that you should like to see me, and that Hannah would like to see us all to rejoice a little with us. I’ll assure you, it would afford me the greatest pleasure imaginable to enjoy your society a few days and to unite with the young converts in prayer and praise. O, it would be the delight of my soul. But I shall not be able to come before summer. Meanwhile we can pray for each other. O my dear brother and sister, I rejoice with you with exceeding great joy and as the poor Indian said, I shake hands with you in my heart, and say in the name of the Lord, go on, go on ye heaven-born souls. Bear the Cross, shrink not from it. Confess Jesus before men for ye are his witnesses that Christ has power on Earth to forgive sins. As you have felt it, so declare it. Dear not, saith God, for I am with you. Open your mouth and I will fill it. Let your light shine among men, the light of your experience, and example to testimony, for in this way you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of God, and prove a blessing to others by turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, and in this way we may all be preachers and extend a mighty influence in the world. You and each young convert may say to others, come and go along with us. Come to Jesus. Come to the Gospel feast for all things are now ready. You may say come for it is written let him that hearest say come?
For your encouragement I will here say that very many have been converted recently in our church in 18th Street — about 100 — and the revival continues. And also in the 16th Street Baptist Church upwards of 100 have professed religion and joined there within a few weeks. And I have heard them get up in the large and crowded church and tell their experience — some with smiling countenances, other with tears streaming from their eyes and crying to their comrades, come. Some of these were the most hardened and outrageously blasphemous infidels, generally denominated Soup Locks and Rowdies. But they now sit at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in their right mind. Ride on King Jesus, thy kingdom is glorious. Let us then, my dear brother, pray on that God’s Kingdom may come with power and great glory and His will be done in earth as it is done in Heaven.
Let us hear from you soon. Tell me all about it. Give my love to Brother Day and all the Brethren. Sarah and Mother unite with me in sending their warmest love to you and Hannah and the boys. My love to all. Adieu.
Yours as ever, — David Demarest