Summary: This Sermon is #24 from Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut.
The entire book Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
The Character and Supports of Widows indeed.
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." *
* Preached at the house of one made a widow by her husband’s desertion; who left her in straitened circumstances to provide for a young family.
TIMOTHY was ordained a bishop of the church at Ephesus; and this epistle was written to him by St. Paul, his spiritual 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 especially poor widows who belonged to the church, and were supported at their expense. He is first directed to "honor widows who were widows indeed." Here the apostle explains his meaning, by designating the character intended. Now "_She that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day_."
EVERY widow did not answer to this description. There were some who answered to no part of it, as he shews below. These 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 minister to the sick, of their own sex, and discharge other charitable labors among them.
IN discoursing on our subject, we shall _make a few observations on the sorrows of widowhood; then glance at the duties of it; and the supports which God hath provided for widows indeed_.
A WIDOWED state is naturally desolate, Most widows pass many solitary hours--a lonesome and melancholy situation;--especially after having known and enjoyed the social intercourse of connubial life. The value of all our comforts is best known by experience; more especially by their loss, after a temporary possession.
BUT the conjugal connexion is sometimes unhappy. In such cases a widowed state is a release from the trials and difficulties which attended it, which may be severe and distressing. The misconduct, or unkindness of those in the nearest relation, wounds in the tenderest part, and occasions the most pungent grief. True.--Yet a state of widowhood, after such a connexion, is commonly more unhappy than after a happy marriage. Many disagreeables are generally left to afflict the desolate. Reflections on such connexions and the trying scenes passed while they continued, are disagreeable; and many cares peculiar to their situation often distress the widows. The care of offspring, where there are offspring, devolves wholely on them; which, if left in straitened circumstances, is often a burden they are unable to bear. And where aid is kindly afforded, still the concern which lies on them, is oft times distressing. "Pangs and sorrows take hold upon them--their couch is wet with tears; their eyes consumed with grief." If those thus tried are _widows indeed_, they follow the line drawn in the text--_trust in God, and continue in prayers and supplications night and day_.
AS it is the duty, it is also the comfort and support of _the desolate to trust in God_. When streams dry up, we go to the fountain: So when creature comforts fail, interest unites with duty, in pointing us to the Creator. He is the source of comfort--that which comes by means of the creature comes from him. The creature is only the medium of conveyance.
WHEN the saints become desolate--when their worldly comforts fail and their hopes decay, they are directed to return to God and put their trust in him; and also to bring with them, those for whom they feel interested--their helpless dear ones, and he hath promised them protection. "Leave thy fatherless children, and I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in me."
FALLEN creatures are exceedingly prone to lean to the world--to promise themselves comfort in it, and support from it. They generally look elsewhere before they look to God. Disappointed in one worldly object they often run to another, and another. They never come to the Creator, and make him their hope, till convinced that what they seek is not to be found in the creature. God sometimes brings his people into straits, and strips them of their earthly dependencies, that having no where else to trust they may come to him and cast their care upon him.
EVEN the Christian may need the rod of adversity to keep him mindful of his dependence on God, and prevent his resting on the creature for support. For after union with Christ, worldly objects retain too large a share of his affection, and he is too much inclined to lean upon them. His attachment to these things is often too strong; draws away his heart from God, and renders him too little mindful of him who is his portion and rest. Therefore is it often necessary to deprive him of his earthly dependencies, that being desolate, he may return to God and renew his reliance on him.