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1 TIMOTHY V. 5.
Now she that is a Widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.*
TIMOTHY was ordained a bishop of the church at Ephefus; and this epiftle was written to him by St. Paul, his fpiritual father, to teach him "how to behave himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God."
THE former part of the context contains directions respecting the treatment of widows; and efpecially poor widows who belonged to the church, and were supported at their expense. He is firft directed to " honor widows who were widows indeed." Here the apoftle explains his meaning, by defignating the character intended. Now "fhe that is a widow indeed, and defolate, trufteth in God,
*Preached at the house of one made a widow by her husband's defertion who left her in Araitened circumstances to provide for a young family.
and continueth in fupplications and prayers night and day."
EVERY widow did not answer to this defcrip. tion. There were fome who answered to no part of it, as he fhews below. Thefe Timothy was not required to honor-not directed to provide for them, or employ them in the business of the church; though certain poor and pious women were then used to minifter to the fick, of their own fex, and discharge other charitable labors among them.
In difcourfing on our subject, we shall make a few obfervations on the forrows of widowhood; then glance at the duties of it; and the fupports which God hath provided for widows indeed.
A WIDOWED state is naturally defolate. Moft widows pass many folitary hours-a lonesome and melancholy fituation ;-especially after having known and enjoyed the focial intercourse of connubial life. The value of all our comforts is best known by experience; more especially by their lofs, after a temporary poffeffion.
BUT the conjugal connexion is sometimes un. happy. In fuch cases a widowed ftate is a release from the trials and difficulties which attended it, which may be fevere and diftreffing. The miscon. duct, or unkindness of those in the nearest relation, wounds in the tendereft part, and occafions the most pungent grief. True.-Yet a ftate of widowhood, after fuch a connexion, is commonly more unhappy than after a happy marriage. Ma. my difagreeables are generally left to afflict the def.
olate. Reflections on fuch connexions and the trying scenes paffed while they continued, are difagreeable; and many cares peculiar to their fitu. ation often diftrefs the widows. The care of offfpring, where there are offspring, devolves wholly on them; which, if left in ftraitened circum_ ces, is often a burden they are unable to bear. And where aid is kindly afforded, ftill the concern which lies on them, is oft times diftreffing. "Pangs and forrows take hold upon them-their couch is wet with tears; their eyes confumed with grief." If those thus tried are widows indeed, they follow the line drawn in the text-truft in God, and conttinue in prayers and fupplications night and day.
As it is the duty, it is also the comfort and support of the defolate to truft in God. When ftreams dry up, we go to the fountain: So when creature comforts fail, intereft unites with duty, in point ing us to the Creator. He is the fource of comfort that which comes by means of the creature comes from him. The creature is only the medium of conveyance.
WHEN the faints become defolate-when their worldly comforts fail and their hopes decay, they are directed to return to God and put their trust in him; and alfo to bring with them, thofe for whom they feel interested-their helpless dear ones, and he hath promifed them protection. "Leave thy fatherless children, and I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows truft in me."
FALLEN creatures are exceedingly prone to lear to the world-to promise themselves comfort in it,
and fupport from it. They generally look elfewhere before they look to God. Disappointed in one worldly obje& they often run to another, and another. They never come to the Creator, and make him their hope, till convinced that what they feek is not to be found in the creature. God fometimes brings his people into ftraits, and ftrips them of their earthly dependencies, that having no where else to truft they may come to him and caft their care upon him.
EVEN the Chriftian may need the rod of adverfity to keep him mindful of his dependence on God, and prevent his refting on the creature for fupport. For after union with Chrift, worldly objects retain too large a fhare of his affection, and he is too much inclined to lean upon them. His attachment to these things is often too ftrong; draws away his heart from God, and renders him too little mindful of him who is his portion and reft. Therefore is it often neceffary to deprive him of his earthly dependencies, that being defolate, he may return to God and renew his reliance on
Ir becomes the defolate, not only to truft in God, but to be thankful that they may truft in him. Those who have God for their portion, have an abiding fatisfying portion. God will be more and better to them than earthly friends, or earthly treasures. Friends often forfake them; or cease to be friends, and become enemies-" Riches take to themfelves wings and fly away." But God abides ;
he hath faid, I will never leave thee, nor forfake thee."*
Now fhe that is a widow indeed, and defolate, while fhe trufteth in God continueth in fupplications and prayers night and day.
THOSE of this character when they find themfelves deftitute of worldly comforts and, fupports, go to God and pour out their fouls into his bofom. Like the Pfalmift they ftir up themselves to truft in him. We find that faint expoftulating with himself in a time of trouble and darkness, and chiding his defpondent temper. "Why art thou caft down, O my foul? And why art thou difquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I fhall yet praise him, who is the health of my counte nance, and my God."
WHILE thus ftirring up themselves to truft in God, the faints pour out their fouls before him in fervent prayer. This the apoftle, declares to be the manner of those, whom he terms widows indeed-they trust in God, and continue in fupplications and prayers night and day.
SUCH was the aged Anna, who met the infant Savior, "when he was brought into the temple, to do for him after the custom of the law. "She departed not from the temple, but ferved God, with faftings and prayers night and day."
THE child, when in affliction, is wont to run to its parents and tell them the fad tale of its forrows. So the child of God, ftripped of other supports, fpreads its grief before him who poffeffes all pow.
* Hebrews xiii. 5.