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1 Timothy 5:14-16

14. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

14. Volo igitur juniores nubere, liberos gignere, domum administrare, nullam occasionem dare adversario, ut habeat maledicendi causam.

15. For some are already turned aside after Satan.

15. Nonnullae enim jam deflexerunt post Satanam.

16. If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

16. Quodsi quis fidelis, aut si qua fidelis habet viduas, suppeditet illis, et non oneretur Ecclesia, ut iis, quae vere viduae sunt, suppetat.

14 I wish the younger (widows) to marry. Censorious men laugh at this injunction of the Apostle. “As if,” say they, “it had been necessary to stimulate their excessively strong desire; for who does not know that almost all widows have naturally a wish to be married?” Superstitious men, on the other hand, would reckon that this doctrine concerning marriage is highly unsuitable to an Apostle of Christ. But, after a careful examination of the whole matter, men of sound judgment will acknowledge that Paul teaches nothing here but what is necessary and highly useful. For, on the one hand, there are many to whom widowhood gives the opportunity of greater licentiousness; and, on the other hand, there are always arising spirits speaking lies in hypocrisy, who make holiness to consist in celibacy, as if it were angelical perfection, and either totally condemn marriage, or despise it as if it savored of the pollution of the flesh. There are few either of men or women that consider their calling. How rarely do you find a man who willingly bears the burden of governing a wife! The reason is, that it is attended by innumerable vexations. How reluctantly does a woman submit to the yoke!

Consequently, when Paul bids the younger widows marry, he does not invite them to nuptial delights; and, when he bids them bear children, he does not exhort them to indulge lust; but, taking into account the weakness of the sex, and the slipperiness of the age, he exhorts them to chaste marriage, and, at the same time, to the endurance of those burdens which belong to holy marriage. And he does this, especially, in order that he may not be thought to have acted contemptuously in excluding them from the rank of widows; for he means, that their life will be not less acceptable to God than if they remained in widowhood. And, indeed, God pays no regard to the superstitious opinions of men, but values this obedience more highly than all things else, when we comply with our calling, instead of permitting ourselves to be carried along by the wish of our own heart.

Having heard that consolation, they have no reason to complain that injury is done to them, or to take it in that they are excluded from one kind of honor; for they learn that, in the married state, they are not less acceptable to God, because they obey his calling. When he speaks of bearing children, he includes, under a single word, all the annoyances that must be endured in bringing up children; in the same manner as, under the government of the house, he includes all that belongs to household management.

To give no occasion to the adversary For, as the husband may be said to be the covering of the wife, so widowhood is liable to many unfavorable suspicions. And what purpose does it serve, to arm the enemies of the gospel with calumnies, without any necessity? But it is very difficult for a widow, in the flower of her age, to act with such caution that wicked men shall not find some pretext for slandering her; and, therefore, if they sincerely desire edification, let them, in order to shut the mouth of evil speakers, choose a way of life that is less liable to suspicion. Here, I suppose, the common adversaries of the gospel to be meant, rather than the private adversaries of any woman; for Paul speaks indefinitely. 9696     “Let us ponder well this doctrine of Paul; for, although he treats here of widows in particular yet we are all admonished, that, in order to perform our duty towards God, it is not enough that our conscience be pure and clean, and that we walk without any bad disposition; but we ought likewise to add such prudence that enemies shall have their mouth shut when they wish to slander us, that their impudence may be known, and that we may always be ready to give an account of what we have done, and that they may have no presence for blaspheming against the name of God and his word, because there will be no appearance of evil in us. True, we cannot avoid being slandered; but let us always attend to this, that no occasion may be given on our part, or by our imprudence.” — Fr. Ser.

15 For some have already turned aside It is certain, that there is no ordinance so holy that some evil may not arise out of it through the wickedness of men. Yet those things which are necessary ought to remain unmoved, whatever may happen to them, although the sky should fall. But when we are at liberty to choose either way, and when this or that has been found by experience to be advantageous, it is a matter of prudence to lay aside what was formerly approved, as in the present case. It was not at all necessary that women, who were still young, should be admitted into the rank of widows; experience shewed that it was dangerous and hurtful; and, therefore, Paul justly advises to take care for the future that nothing of this kind may happen.

If the revolt of some women was regarded by him as a sufficiently strong argument for seeking a universal remedy, how many arguments would the Papists have for abolishing their filthy celibacy, if they had any regard to edification! But they choose rather to strangle millions of souls by the cruel cords of a wicked and diabolical law than to loose a single knot; and this makes it evident how widely their cruelty differs from the holy zeal of Paul.

After Satan The expression is worthy of notice; because no one can turn aside from Christ, in the smallest degree, without following Satan; for he has dominion over all who do not belong to Christ. We learn from this how destructive is turning aside from the right course, since, from being children of God, it makes us slaves of Satan, and, by withdrawing us from the government of Christ, places Satan over us as our guide. 9797     “Since the gospel is preached to us, it is Jesus Christ who holds out his scepter, and shews us that he wishes to be our king, and to take us for his people. When we have thus made profession of the gospel, if we do not persevere till the end, if it happen that we debauch ourselves in any way, not only do we refuse to be in obedience to the Son of God, but we give to Satan all mastery over us, and he will seize it, and we must be in his service in spite of our teeth. If this is dreadful and absolutely shocking, ought we not to be better advised than we have been to conceal ourselves under the wings of our God, and to suffer ourselves to be governed by him, till he renew us by his Holy Spirit in such a manner that we shall not be so giddy and foolish as we have been? For that purpose, let us consider that we must have our Lord Jesus Christ for our guide; for if we wish to be truly the people of God, the saying of the Prophet must be fulfilled in us, that the people shall walk, and David their king shall go before them. Let us always have his doctrine before our eyes, and let us follow him step by step, hearing his voice as that of our good Shepherd, (John 10:4).”Fr. Ser.

16 If any believer. It being customary for every one willingly to throw his own burdens on the whole Church, on this account he expressly enjoins that it be guarded against. He speaks of believers who ought to support their widows; for, as to those widows who renounced a wicked relationship, it was proper that they should be received by the Church. And if they act a sinful part, who, by sparing themselves, allow the Church to be burdened with expense, let us learn from this in what aggravated sacrilege they are involved, who, by fraud or robbery, profane what was once dedicated to the Church.


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