Van Nest, Abraham

Van Nest, Abraham an eminent Christian merchant and philanthropist of New York, was born near Somerville, N.J., May 8,1777. At twelve years of age he left his father's house and farm to dwell with his brother in New York, where his subsequent long life was spent. Carefully nurtured by his believing parents, and converted at an early age, he united in the communion of the Collegiate Church, of which he was a member nearly sixty years, and for about half a century an active officer. By constant re-election he was almost a permanent member of the Consistory and of the General Synod and other ecclesiastical assemblies of the Reformed Church, in which his commanding influence was always quietly exerted. He was greatly prospered in business, and accumulated a large property, without a stain upon his good name, and he used it as a faithful steward of the, kingdom of God. He was noted for abounding liberality and efficient services in many benevolent institutions. But his chief sphere of usefulness was in the Church, as a wise counselor and willing servant. He was president of the Board of Corporation for many years. As a trustee of Rutgers College, from 1823 until his decease, he did much to revive, sustain, and enlarge that institution; and his name is perpetuated in one of its edifices, Van Nest Hall, erected in 1842 by the efforts of the alumni, and devoted to the Museum of Natural History, Chemistry, Geology, and the Literary Societies. He did more than any other layman of that day to endow the Theological Seminary at New Brunswick by his personal labors with Drs. Ludloaw, Schoonmaker, and Jacob R. Hardenbergh, as well as by his gifts. For thirty years he was honorably identified with the politics and government of New York city-acting with the Democratic party, and always maintaining his Christian integrity amid those testing scenes of public life. Mr. Van Nest was of small stature, with a benevolent and thoughtful countenance and entirely unobtrusive manner. His will was strong; he possessed great executive ability, prudence, knowledge of human nature, and kindness of heart. His piety was intelligent, scriptural, and uniformly earnest and outspoken. He vas a man of prayer, "full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." His home was the abode of a princely hospitality, and up to the time of his death one of the few remaining landmarks of the wealth and liberality of a generation that has passed away. Afflictions and age mellowed his Christian character during the later and quiet years of his once busy life; and. he "came to his grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in its season." He died Sept. 14,1864. See A Memorial for his Family (1864). (W. J. R. T.)

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