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pected to preclude the bounty of their neighbours, or their own exertions. In the daily ministrations of the primitive church the widows were the principal reci. pien'ts ; and it was that none might be neglected, and that no partiality might be shown in the distribution, that seven deacons were appointed to manage it. Such persons are its fittest objects; and while her deacons should frown on the applications of indolence and imposture, to those of the poor widow they should lend a ready ear.
4. The precept enjoins our employing them to promote the welfare of others. It has a primary refer. ence to the employment of aged females in the days of the Apostle as teachers of poor children, and to the intrusting them with the care of entertaining Christian strangers. This was a striking proof of the confidence reposed by the church in their prudence, piety, and activity. There were widows in those days whose names are mentioned in the Epistles with the greatest honour, as zealous instruments in the cause of truth and charity. The order of deaconesses has become extinct in the church. It was peculiarly necessary in the primitive times, when the introduction of a new religion was watched by multitudes eager to misre. present its usages, and in the East, where jealousy and tyranny permit not females to hold the slightest intercourse with any beyond their own circle, that women in sickness and sorrow, in poverty and fear, should be ministered to by those of their own sex. We behold in this an admirable proof of the wisdom of the Author of our faith, and how unlike he was to enthusiasts who scorn the maxims of prudence,
and, by their indiscreet associations, lead the thoughtless into snares.
In modern times such arrangements do not exist ; but in the spirit of them, matrons are employed to superintend charitable institutions, and in various places act as instructors of children. They can attend to the concerns of such institutions with a minuteness of which few men are capable ; and their kindliness of manner seldom fails to win the hearts of the young. It is highly proper that persons of rank should sometimes make such widows the dispensers of their alms, or, at least, employ them in laying out their bounty. And I cannot help remarking, that the zeal of some females, in respectable situations in life, to do good to others, is not so considerate as it ought to be; as, in communicating instruction in reading and some of the arts of life, they deprive various deserving females of their scholars, on whose wages they depended for support. How much more judicious would it be to encourage such teachers by their countenance, and by the rewards they bestowed on the deserving under their charge!
There is a peculiar softness in the manner of those who have seen affliction, a greater patience in watching, and a superior aptitude for tending the sick and the infirm. These qualities have been exhibited in every town and district of the land, in the conduct of females who have gone about doing good, teaching little children to fear God, distributing the Holy Scriptures, and applying their warnings and their consolations. In a more private form, but marked by the God who sees in secret, females visit the mansions of distress, and have found, in wiping away the tears of the unhappy, their own griefs lessened, and their own spirits revived.
We act in the spirit of this precept when the advice of such persons is solicited in cases of difficulty. The experience of the aged widow qualifies her to be a guide to the young, and her example of holy resignation, self-denial, and heavenly-mindedness, is one of the best lessons of goodness. From such persons, in their obscure and solitary dwelling, where the Bible is the chief study, and prayer to God is their hourly employment, a wisdom may be learned far more sublime than any ever taught in the most celebrated of the heathen schools; and the beauties of holiness appear in those who have long served God with peculiar lustre. The virtues and graces which adorn the character of the desolate widow will be found the loveliest accomplishments of youth and the best guards of prosperity
CONCLUSION. How valuable are the lessons which we are taught by the arrangements of the primitive times! Many of them were local and temporary, but the spirit of them was that of humility and beneficence. A wise and good man will never treat them with neglect as of no interest, or of no obligation, but will inquire how far they may be followed out, and what dispositions they require him to cherish. Ingenuity and benevolence united have in our country, at the present day, formed in various societies, civil and religious, institutions for the support of widows. In these plans, a man's regard
to his own is made subservient to the advantage of many, and the widow in receiving her allowance feels a satisfaction in it as the result of the foresight and exertion by which it was secured, to which the mere recipient of alms must be a stranger. It is to be wished that such institutions were more extensive and more efficient, and that in their arrangements, management, and result, they may display more of that heavenly wisdom which is full of mercy and good fruits.
Let widows be more solicitous than ever to exemplify the qualities which are the best security for respect; and let them supplicate the Spirit of grace to form and to strengthen in them the various graces of the gospel. By these they will deserve and attain respect, the respect of the wisest and the best. Let them not degrade themselves by peevish querulousness. A habit of this kind is a proof, wherever it exists, of little confidence in God, and little prayer to him. Let them remember, that respect is nearest those who neither court nor demand it. Be grateful for all the kindness you experience, and decline not any opportunity of usefulness which is presented to you ; endeavour to search out means of utility; set your hearts on the honour that comes from God, and walk in his fear.
Let those who are now happy in their families remember the days of darkness. It is to act as the wise, to live as those who are to be separated in death. It is to act as Christians, to live as those who are to be re-united to heaven, and to be for ever together in that happy world. The uncertainty whose death it
may be which shall produce the separation, is an aw. ful memento to the husband and to the wife to prepare to meet with God. It is his prerogative who brought you together to part you; and it is by dwelling together as heirs of the grace of life, that you shall be parted with his blessing. “ Hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly; that
sayest in thine heart, I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come on thee in their perfection. To the man from whom death has taken away
the partner of his heart, this subject suggests many admonitions. The separation is not imbittered by poverty, as it might have been to your partner, had you been removed, and in the hurry of business, and in mingling with the world, the mind is relieved for a season from its melancholy musings; yet your heart cannot turn to your dwelling without a pang, and on going back to it from your labour in the evening, you feel that the care which ordered, the kindness which blessed, and the smile which cheered it, are no more. Shun not your home though you find it thus desolate; you will find in its recollections, however solemn, and in the discharge of the double duty which now lies on you, far more desirable solace than any scene of gaiety can afford you. How bitter are the feelings of those children to whom a mother's removal is aggravated by a father's neglect, and who say to one an
• Isaiah xlvii. 8, 9.