The Widow Directed to the Widow's God

by John Angell James, 1841


One of the errands on which the Son of God came from heaven to earth, was to bind up the brokenhearted, and to comfort all who mourn. And during his sojourn upon earth, the tenderest sympathy was one of the virtues which adorned that holy nature, in which dwelt, as in its temple, "all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Like their Divine Master, the ministers of the gospel ought to be 'sons of consolation', and to perform the functions of a comforter, as well as those of an instructor—for if pure and undefiled religion, as regards the professors of Christianity, consists, in part, of visiting the widow and fatherless in their affliction, how much more incumbent is it on its teachers, to cherish and to manifest the same tenderness of spirit towards this deeply suffering portion of the human family. A group of children gathered round a widowed mother, and sobbing out their sorrows, as she repeats to them, amid many tears, their father's beloved and honored name, is one of those pictures of woe, on which few can look with an unmoistened eye.

The Christian widow needs a special message of comfort from her Lord; a voice which speaks to her case alone; a strain of consolation which, in its descriptions and condolence, is appropriate, and exclusively so, to her. As it is the peculiarity of our sorrows which often gives them their depth and pungency, so it is the peculiarity of sympathy also which gives to this cordial for a fainting spirit, its balmy and reviving power. Affliction, like bodily disease, has numerous varieties; and, comfort, like medicine, derives its efficacy from its suitableness to the case. May the present attempt, specially addressed to them, by one who knows by experience, the value of the considerations he submits to others; by one who has been called in time past to weep, and is now trembling and weeping again—be blessed by the God of all consolation, for their comfort.

The following work is written with great simplicity in sentiment and style—for it would be a mockery of woe to approach it with far-fetched subjects; difficult discussion; cold logic; or artificial rhetoric. The bruised heart loves the gentlest handling, and the troubled spirit is soothed with the simplest music. The soul has no inclination, at such times, and in such circumstances, for anything but the "sincere milk of the word," leaving the strong meat for other and healthier seasons.