Introduction to Lamentations

This book in Greek, Latin, and English, has its name from the subject matter of it, which is Lamentation. So also among the Hebrew writers; but in the Hebrew it takes its name from the first word of the book, as the five books of Moses have. That it was wrote by Jeremiah none can question, because in the Hebrew it is styled, The book of Jeremiah. There is little controversy about the time, or occasion of writing it. That the occasion was the miseries of the people, by reason of the famine, sword, and captivity, is evident. Probably Jeremiah began to write upon the death of Josiah, and continued to the time of the captivity, setting down all the miseries the people suffered all along to that time. The design of the writing, as to those whom it immediately concerned, is plain and obvious, namely, to affect the people with those judgments which came upon them for their sins: as to us (upon whom the ends of the world are come) to mind us to take heed of their sins, lest we be sharers in their plagues. The book is made up of complaints of their lamentable condition; petitions to God for mercy; and prophecies both of their better estate, and the ruin of their enemies. In the four first chapters are several alphabets of letters beginning the several verses, each verse beginning with a new letter, only chap. 3, every three verses begin with a new letter. It seems the chapters were so composed, for the advantage of their memories. The whole book lets us see from what an height of dignity, to what a depth misery sin may bring a nation, how much soever interested in God; and directs us to our duty in a state of affliction.

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