Nine Days in Heaven
The Vision of Marietta Davis
Just over 150 years ago, in Berlin, New York State, USA, twenty-five year old Marietta Davis suddenly fell into an unconscious state, from which neither family nor physician could arouse her.
She awoke nine days later, to describe in graphic detail her remarkable visit to heaven and hell. Her testimony was supported by Marietta’s mother, physician, publisher and ministers of religion. Her pastor recorded her words, which were then published. The book remains in print today and has inspired thousands over the years. Unfortunately the original complex and verbose language makes the story extremely difficult to understand. (Read some examples.)
That problem has now been resolved with this plain English rewrite by Dennis and Nolene Prince. (Read a few endorsements.)
One feature of the story is the delightful depiction of the angelic care of infants in heaven – a huge comfort to parents who have lost little ones.
Watch video clips created by the book readers:
Marietta Davis was born in 1823, in Berlin, New York, where she lived with her mother and two sisters. At twenty-five years of age she experienced a vision that made her the talking point of her community and a legend for generations to come.
Her story was put into print and the original publisher observed cautiously, “Edition after edition has been published and passed silently into the hands of the reading public.” And so the remarkable story became widely known.
A hundred years later the book was still in print, but the difficult language led to a decline in its popularity. It was wordy, complex, and flowery—far more so than the language of the time. Modern readers baulked at words like fain, preponderating, effulgence, habiliments, dissever, behooves, and vouchsafed; and phrases such as “a sable veil of nether night,” “indulgence of propensities and reversion of the movement of destructive tendency.” Only the most tenacious readers made it to the end and most of them missed many gems that were hidden in the difficult words and phrases.
This book is an attempt to capture the original story in the language of today. In making this rewrite, every effort has been made to preserve the original intent of the story. The reader will find some sections a little formal, a hangover from the original language that was difficult to erase completely without compromising the integrity of the original. In spite of this, the story retains its interest and fascination.
The following background has been summarized from the supporting testimonials of the original publisher, family, attending physician, Marietta’s pastor, and other ministers of the day. These original testimonials appear in close to their original form at the end of the book.
Background to the Story
A religious revival in their hometown had impacted the lives of Marietta’s mother and sisters but had left Marietta unaffected. Although she had thought about the issues involved, she was not a religious person and was not interested in discussing these things.
Seven months after the revival Marietta suddenly and unexpectedly fell into a trance, which, remarkably, lasted nine days. During this time her family and their doctors were unable to rouse her. When she finally regained consciousness she had full control of her faculties and described with almost supernatural perception how angels had conducted her spirit to heaven and hell. She described extraordinary scenes from these places in graphic detail.
Marietta made it plain that her vision was given for a specific reason. She had been instructed to tell the world so that men and women could prepare for the next life.
Marietta died seven months after the vision—at the time and in the manner she predicted.
Infants in Heaven
Download extract from Nine Days in Heaven.
Original Endorsements from 1850's
The following testimonials are presented here in their original form, except for a few slight changes where words have altered significantly in meaning or were particularly difficult to understand. Although obviously different in style to our language of today they are quite easy to follow—unlike the language of the main text of the original book.
Statement of Original Publisher
The increasing demand for this work, with so little effort to call public attention to it, confirms our first impressions, that it is the Book for the age; one greatly needed to supply the deficiency intuitively sensed by the mind of the present generation.
Edition after edition has been published and passed silently into the hands of the reading public. Reports of an encouraging nature reach us from all sections where it has found its way; and the united testimony of those who avail themselves of the work is, that, to read is to be benefited.
Its sound theology, purely religious sentiment, and thrilling descriptions of scenes enacted beyond the grave, as seen by the spirit of the young girl, while her body lay entranced, cannot, it seems to me, fail to strengthen the faith of the Christian in the truths of Revelation. More particularly is it adapted to the youthful mind of this age, to awaken in it a love of the Christian Religion as it unfolds so graphically the great plan of man’s Redemption—“which things the angels desire to look into.”
I have witnessed its effect upon the youthful mind. They, while listening to the thrilling story of Marietta, seem borne along with her enraptured spirit, and with it to witness the unfolding of visions, by which the Infants are being taught to know their Redeemer, that they too, might be able to realize and love Him, who was once a babe in a manger; then a man of sorrows acquainted with grief; then suffering death and triumphing over the grave, for the redemption of a ruined and forlorn race.
I unhesitatingly state it as my firm and unwavering belief, that the spirit of Marietta Davis, like John, the Revelator, while his body was in the Isle of Patmos, visited scenes beyond the grave, and there saw and heard what she relates. However this may be, if the truth can be brought to reach the mind, and win the affections to the Christian Religion, all is gained that should be desired.
September 1, 1856
Testimonies Authenticating the Vision
The following testimonials from the mother and sisters of Marietta Davis; and from Emerson Hull, M.D., who has been a resident of Berlin for many years, and is a physician of eminence, are but a part of those in possession of the editor, but are considered sufficient to authenticate the narrative.
1. Testimony of the family, Berlin, NY, Nov. 15, 1855
Rev. J. L. Scott:
Since you have been publishing the trance of Marietta Davis, in the Mountain Cove Journal, some of the readers have written to us to ascertain its authenticity. Upon this account, and to relieve you from embarrassment, we submit the following for your disposal:
Marietta Davis was a member of our family; she was born in this town, where she lived until called by death from us.
She was not of open religious habits; being disinclined to religious conversation. During the revival in the winter of 1847–1848, her mind, as you well know, was religiously exercised; but she could not obtain the reality of the faith others had found, so as to enable her to join her young friends in the truths of the Gospel. In August following she fell into a sleep, or trance, from which she could not be awakened. In that state she remained nine days; and when she awoke, she said she had been in heaven; that she had seen there many of her old friends and relations who were dead; and Jesus the Redeemer.
From that time her hope in heaven, through Jesus, was strong; and she rejoiced in the prospect of a final admission into the Paradise of Peace.
During her short stay with us, after she came out of the trance, she related what she said she had seen, heard, and learned during her sleep; but much of what she told us, she said she wished should not be mentioned then, for the world was not prepared to hear it. The trance, as you published it, as far as we can recollect, is correct; only you have omitted much. Marietta fell asleep in August, 1848, and died the following March, and at the time and in the manner predicted by herself.
Nancy Davis, Mother
Susan Davis, Sister
Sarah Ann Davis, Sister
2. Testimony of the attending physician, Berlin, NY, Nov. 15, 1853
Rev. J. L. Scott:
In the Summer of 1848, with yourself, I visited the widow Nancy Davis, of this town, in the capacity of medical attendant upon her daughter Marietta, who had fallen into a state of catalepsy, or trance, in which she remained nine days, and from which to awaken her human skill seemed unavailing. When she returned to her normal state, she related much of a remarkable character, which she said she had learned while in the trance.
Having read portions of what you have published in the Mountain Cove Journal, I am prepared to give my testimony as to its strict correspondence to what I heard her relate before her death.
Your Obedient Servant,
Emerson Hull, MD
3. Testimonies of prominent ministers living at the time of the vision
Lest some who have not read this Trance, and are therefore unacquainted with its character, should class it with books “got up” by the “spirit media” of the day, and to assure the reader that its correct sentiment and pure spirit commend it to the confidence of the Religious Public, we insert the following statements of the Rev. Mr. Waller, of Kentucky, and the Rev. Mr. Miller, of Springfield, Ohio.
Rev. G. Walker, one of the first ministers of the Baptist order, in Kentucky, whose sound Theology and good sense won him, for twenty-five consecutive years, the highest office in his denomination, and whose name is sufficient commendation for any Work through the wide field of his usefulness, and wherever his name is known, writes as follows:
“I have carefully examined a book bearing the title: ‘Scenes Beyond the Grave,’ purporting to be a simple narrative of scenes enacted beyond the grave, and witnessed by the spirit of a young girl while she lay entranced, as the testimony shows. Of this I express no opinion; but fully approve of its pure and deep-tone spirit of Christianity, and sound Theology.
“The Scenes are so truly depicted, and so beautifully and thrillingly told, that it cannot fail to secure the judgment, and win the confidence and affections of all who read it.
“I am constrained to say, that in purity of style, and richness of composition, it is not excelled by any work I have read. I should be pleased if it could be placed upon the table of every family, and read in every common and Sunday school in the land. Disbelief in Christianity can have little influence where it is read. It is particularly adapted to the use of families and schools, to form in the young mind the first impressions. I therefore, very cheerfully recommend it to the public, and particularly to all who love the Bible and the Christian religion.”
June 15, 1855
* * *
Rev. Mr. Miller, of Springfield, Ohio, Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a man of deep devotion and marked piety who has not only the confidence of his Church, but for some twenty years has held a responsible office—the gift of the people of his city and county—in a letter speaks thus:
Rev. J. L. Scott:
“I have before me the first part of the Trance of Marietta Davis, entitled ‘Scenes Beyond the Grave,’ which I have read with inexpressible delight; and it so far exceeds any work I have previously read, which treats upon the lost state of man, and his redemption through our Lord Jesus Christ, that I am constrained to urge upon you the necessity of placing it in the hands of every family in the land.
“Its richness, and purity of style, its poetic grandeur and figurative excellence, so possess the mind of the reader, that he seems himself ‘entranced,’ and borne far beyond the darkness and imperfections of earth, to be an observer with the spirit of Marietta, of the lovely scenes that occupy the inhabitants of heaven; and also as was revealed to her, the reader realizes most deeply the depth of iniquity into which man is fallen by reason of sin, and becomes lost in the contemplation of the boundless goodness bestowed in his redemption.
“Her description, as revealed to her, of the display of Justice, and Mercy, the meekness, love and suffering of the Saviour, in the purpose and completion of the plan of Salvation, is unequalled; and the narrative of what she saw in Paradise, where the infants from earth are received, agreeing so perfectly as it does with our highest hopes of the blessedness of our little ones, who have departed this life, fills the reader with ecstasy.
No language of mine is in any way capable of explaining the feelings that awaken in the soul, while reading the narrative, and whatever may have been the inspiring cause (and I believe she saw what she relates), I feel that whoever reads the Trance with any degree of care will receive from it, lasting benefit.
“I am therefore eager that it should be spread abroad through the land, and the more especially, since it is so well calculated to counteract the destructive influence of the disbelief in Christianity, now so abundantly proclaimed by the advocates of modern Infidel Spiritualism.
In the bonds of Christian affection, I am yours,
Springfield, Clark Co., Ohio
June 9, 1855
4. Testimony of Marietta’s pastor
The work now presented to the public as depicting Scenes Beyond the Grave, does not come without authority for its somewhat startling title. In the summer of 1848, a young woman named Marietta Davis, aged twenty-five years, residing with her mother Mrs. Nancy Davis, at Berlin, New York, fell into a sleep or trance, in which she remained for nine days. All endeavours on the part of her friends and of her physicians failed to arouse her from this unnatural state. When at last she awoke to a consciousness of external things, she was in the full possession of all her natural faculties, with an almost supernatural acuteness of perception superadded.
Before she fell into the trance, her mind had been considerably exercised in regard to her future state; but there was yet a lingering doubt which greatly disturbed her. Her mother and sisters were exemplary members of a Baptist Church, in Berlin, then under my pastoral charge, but Marietta’s doubt seemed to have kept her from the enjoyment of the hope in which her family so confidently rested. But when she came out of the trance, in which she had lain for so many days, it was with joy and rejoicing over the unspeakable things which she had seen and heard. Her mouth was filled with praises to God, and her heart swelled with gratitude to him for his loving kindness. She averred that while her body lay as it were in death, her spirit had visited the eternal world. She informed her friends that she was not to remain long with them: but should soon go hence to enjoy a mansion prepared for her in her heavenly Father’s Kingdom. After this she lived seven months and died at the time predicted by herself; and so perfectly did she know the hour of her departure, that when it arrived she selected a hymn and commenced singing it with the family; and while they sang, her spirit took its flight so gently as not to attract attention. Thus the hymn commenced with her friends on earth, and doubtless concluded with the angels in heaven.
The style of Marietta’s narrative is peculiar. She regretted her inability to express her conceptions of what she had seen and heard, so as to give a definite idea of the glories of the heavenly world. I have not felt at liberty to change the style of her narrative, and as far as possible have employed her own language. Having received the story from her own lips, I have so preserved it, as to make it in truth the relation of her own experience.
The tone of the trance is exalted and Christlike; and therefore its influence cannot fail to be of a useful and sacred character. Confident of this, I offer it to the public. If read in the spirit in which it was given, it cannot fail to gladden and encourage the Christian, and to lead the thoughts of the man of the world beyond his material existence. For while following her in her wide range of spiritual thoughts and visions, forgetting the outer world, we fancy that the heavens are opened to our view, revealing their glory and magnificence. We seem to see the moving multitudes, who with golden harps and angelic voices are chanting praises to God. With ecstasy we behold, as mirrored before us, the Infant Paradise; and appear ourselves to be observing the order and harmony of the inhabitants of that divine sphere. Then borne onward and upward by her entrancing story, in the spirit we seem to arise with saints and angels and become familiar with the inhabitants of the Celestial heavens, and are led to exclaim, “Marietta! You favoured of heaven, we bless that Providence which unfolded your vision, while we read with delight of soul, the revelations of your entranced spirit!”
Endorsements from Today
Since first publishing Nine Days in Heaven in 2006 we received many responses from people inspired and encouraged by the story. Emails, letters, calls, conversations – from men and women from all walks of life. Here are a few of them - all confirming what we knew already: this story must be told.
Dennis and Nolene Prince
• “THANK YOU for such insight and wisdom with "NINE DAYS IN HEAVEN". It is profoundly written and easy to understand. I get overwhelmed reading it and at times have to put it down because it is so meaty. I need time to digest it and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the power of it all to me.
Anyway, thanks again for taking your time to keep this one going. It is a MUST READ!!”
• “I feel like I was Marietta in the story – as though I had gone through the whole thing. I am so grateful for this book – it is as though someone has given me a ruby. I so want to go to heaven. It has encouraged me to live a more godly life.
JC Melbourne Australia
• “My daughter Alexandra was born premature. God let me hold, sing to and comfort her for 90 minutes before she left. Nine Days in Heaven was a big help to me. It has been almost six years since my angel left and when I start to get selfish again I reread Nine Days in Heaven to remind me what her life is like now. She receives more love and nurturing than any earthly father could ever give her. Thank you. God Bless You.”
J. C. C. 2nd, USA
• “About 11 months ago we lost our grandson unexpectedly; he was just a few days old. I want to sincerely thank both of you for taking the time and the painstaking effort to rewrite the book that was so thoughtfully given to you.
I read Nine Days in Heaven within weeks of our loss and was greatly comforted and I read the parts pertaining to the Infant Paradise over and over again.
Thank you again for bringing this vision back into circulation. And thank you to my friends who followed the promptings of God to pass it on to me. I have since purchased several copies of this book and have given a copy to anyone who showed an interest in reading it.”
L. L. Queensland Australia
• A pastor: “I was absolutely and utterly inspired. I am not usually a voracious reader but I could not put it down.”
• A pastor told us the following story. After trying to conceive for many years a couple eventually had a baby boy. Tragically, when the boy was about seven years old he became sick and died. The parents were unable to have more children and were devastated. The father was contemplating suicide, thinking that in this way he would see his son again. Someone gave them a copy of the book which helped them enormously, and the father was able to overcome his suicidal thoughts.
• A friend working in a Christian bookshop emailed: “A lady came into our bookshop - her daughter had given birth to twins and one of them died at birth. She asked me if I knew of any book that could help her daughter. I thought of your Nine Days in Heaven and told her I knew you and a little about your similar circumstances. Today she was in the shop again and told me how much the book had helped her daughter and thanked me for recommending it.”
• A minister called - he had just read the story. He said it was a staggering book – amazing, and was deeply convicted by it. He taught Christian subjects in a private school and obtained a number of copies for his students.
• Our son-in-law’s father - a Christian - died a few years ago. During his illness members of the family read the book. One was a daughter-in-law who was not a Christian. She was so impacted by it she gave away a number of copies – even before she (eventually) became a Christian.
• Many people have purchased multiple copies to give away. Five or ten at a time has not been uncommon. One lady obtained about 40 copies over a year. An Orthodox Christian man bought 20 copies. He gave them to friends as his way of sharing the gospel. When he ran out he contacted us to buy another 100.
• A church in Singapore obtained a copy and printed and marketed it in Singapore. They also wrote a play based on the book and during the presentation about 70 people became Christians as a result.
The Original Book
When we read the normal English language of 1848 we find it ponderous and flowery - though not really difficult to understand with a little perseverance. However the language used by Marietta in her vision was extremely flowery and wordy, often with difficult words and phrases. To fully understand it you need a dictionary in your hand and much concentrated effort. Here are some examples.
Some of Marietta’s Words:
Habiliments, vouchsafed, preponderating, suppliant, holden, daguerreotyped, euphony, insatiate, verdure, umbrage, effulgence, fain, anatomic, animadversion, dissever, subtile.
Some of Marietta’s Sentences:
“As immortality is the intellectual sensation of man unencumbered with physical sense, and vastly superior in its ability to endure to mortality, in like proportion is the consciousness and capability of suffering here superior to human suffering …”
“The indulgence of propensities that folded around the soul the elements of evil magnetism and pervaded the spirit with its deadly miasm.”
“Can he descend the maelstrom of death and arrest the heavy tide whose broad current thence rolls to the bottomless abyss?”
Many gems in the original story were locked away in words and phrases like these. This rewrite has ironed out these obstacles, unlocking many gems, and allowing the reader to enjoy all the treasures of Marietta’s truly remarkable vision.
About the Editors
Dennis Prince was born in Swan Hill, northern Victoria, Australia. He trained as a Civil Engineer, graduating from the University of Melbourne in 1963. He became a Christian during his final year of university. After working for a short time in the engineering field and for the YMCA, he lectured in Civil Engineering for six years at the Gordon Institute of Technology, now Deakin University, Geelong.
Nolene was born in Brighton, Melbourne, Australia and studied music at the University of Melbourne, majoring in singing and graduating in 1965. She continued her studies in singing in England and performed at recitals and competitions in Melbourne, also teaching school music for one year. Attending church throughout her childhood she made a full commitment to God during a Billy Graham rally in 1959.
Dennis and Nolene were married in 1966 and lived in Geelong, Victoria for several years. In 1972 they moved to Adelaide to attend Bible College. They moved back to Melbourne in 1976 to assist in planting a church, the Christian Resource Centre - now Kingston City Church – in south-eastern Melbourne.
This church grew very rapidly and the popular praise and worship songs they collected and published became much in demand amongst other churches. Their first book of 242 songs, published in 1981, sold more than 20,000 copies, and additional supplements were added to the resource each year till 2008. During this time the Princes conducted worship seminars in many churches of all denominations around Australia and overseas.
Dennis and Nolene have three children: Matthew, married to Rachael; Kirsten married to Kristin; and Rebecca, married to Alexei. At this time of writing (2010) they have seven grandchildren, and three more on the way.
Dennis tells the story behind the rewrite of this book – Nine Days in Heaven – as follows.
Our first child died suddenly when he was four months old. We hoped the pain of that event would be swept away with the birth of our second baby seventeen months later, but this little one, a girl, was stillborn at full term.
So we felt the full force of the lot that befalls those who lose a child. The shock, the tears, the pain, the numbness, the questions, the turmoil, the fear. Each seemed to take its turn in never-ending waves.
Family and friends were wonderful as they gathered around us. One of these friends was a lady a few years older than us. Her name was Elva. Elva sidled up to Nolene and myself one day and gave us a brown paper parcel. In it was an old copy of the book Scenes Beyond the Grave by John Loughran Scott, which recounts the vision of Marietta Davis. She thought it would help.
It did. It was as though we were transported from our tired earth to a place way up there—a place of liberation and understanding—where we could see just as God sees. A place from where we could approach our lives with a new conviction that God was in control, that all was well with our two children and that we could trust God with our tomorrows.
I wondered why the whole world didn’t know about this book. But even as I wondered, I knew the reason. The difficult language, unusual even for that time, made it almost unreadable. You could follow the story if you worked at it, but many parts were incomprehensible without a dictionary in your hand. I wondered why someone had not rewritten it in a way it could be understood.
For years I took it with me to read on holidays. Each time I thought that one day, when work was quiet, I might rewrite it myself. It never did get quiet so I began anyway, hoping to complete it in one year. It took three, working first with a dictionary and thesaurus, and then with a red pen on progressive rewrites. My wife, Nolene, seeing my frustrations, joined me. A lover of crosswords and word games and a voracious reader, she was invaluable.
In my opinion, the whole world should read this story. Some find it strange and hard to believe. Thousands have been inspired and challenged. But everyone should read it—and with an open mind. As the original publisher raved in the conservative language of 150 years ago, “to read it is to be benefited.”