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Lamentations 1:4

4. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.

4. Viae Sion lugentes a non venientibus (ad verbum; quia non sint qui veniant) ad solennitatem; omnes portae ejus solitariae (vastatae, שוממין;) sacerdotes ejus plorantes, virgines ejus afflictae, et ipsa amaritudo ei (hoc est, ipsa in amaritudine, ut vertit Hieronymus

 

Jeremiah refers here to another cause of sorrow, that the worship of God had ceased, it having been interrupted; nay, it seemed to have become extinct for ever. He then says that the ways of Sion mourned, because none came to the feasts. The words are figurative, for we know that feelings belong not to ways; but the Prophet ascribes feeling to what is inanimate. And this sort of personification is more emphatical than if he had introduced the people as mourning. But when the Jews saw that God’s worship had fallen, it was more grievous than to find themselves bereaved of children or of wives, or plundered of all their goods; for the more precious God’s worship was to them, and the more religion was thought of, in which consisted the eternal salvation of their souls, the more severe and mournful was it to see the Church, so scattered, that God could no longer be worshipped and invoked.

It is indeed true that God’s worship was not tied to ceremonies; for Daniel never ceased to pray, and he was heard no less in his exile than if he came to the sacrifices with great solemnity to make an offering in the Temple. This is no doubt true; but as God had not in vain instituted these duties and rites of religion, the Prophet exhibits the thing itself by its symbols. As, then, feasts were testimonies of God’s grace, it was the same as though the Jews were called together by a standard being lifted up, and as though God appeared in the midst of them. Hence the Prophet, referring to these external symbols, shews that the worship of God had in a manner ceased.

Her gates are solitary, or desolate; her priests are in mourning, her virgins in afflictions; she is in bitterness. 125125     Participles are used throughout this verse, which express the present state of things, —
   The ways of Sion are mourning, for none are coming to the feasts;
All her gates are made desolate, her priests are sighing;
Her virgins are afflicted, and she, bitterness is to her.

    — Ed.
Now this passage reminds us, that when God afflicts his Church, however grievous it may be to see innocent men slain, blood shed promiscuously, the sexes, men and women, killed indiscriminately; and though it be a sad spectacle to see houses robbed and plundered, fields laid waste, and al! things in a confusion, yet when all these things are compared with the abolition of God’s worship, this passage reminds us that all these things ought to appear light to us. Though David greatly deplored his condition, because he was banished from the Temple, and did not as usual lead thither the assembly, when he was not the only one ejected from the sanctuary of God; yet when the sanctuary itself was destroyed, together with the altar, when there were no sacrifices, no thanksgiving, no praises; in short, no prayer, it was surely much more bitter.

This lamentation of the Prophet ought then to be carefully noticed, when he says, that the ways of Sion mourned, that no one went up to the feasts. What follows I pass over; I shall hereafter dwell more on these things when we advance towards the end of the narrative.


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