Jonathan Edwards was a Puritan preacher present during the time of the Great Awakening, a time period in colonial America when religion gained a massive resurgence. He (as well as George Whitefield) was a key figure in the time, due primarily to his awe-inspiring sermons depicting the horrors of hell.One of his sermons, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, held many similarities to his others: it depicts the scorching fire, and the suffering, and the wickedness, and the reality of a hell that all unconverted people will go to if they do not completely accept God as their true savior and lord. In order for Edwards to have grasped his audience with fear, he showered upon the audience vivid imagery, threatening diction, and analogies to get his point across: there is a hell, and God’s hand is ready to flick you into its fiery pit, unless God is accepted and you go through conversion.Edwards delivers such a passionate sermon so that he can help revive the religious fervor he believes should be spread. To introduce his sermon, Edwards was very quick to make real the concept of a hell. He utilized horrifying imagery with words such as “hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them,” that vividly portrayed what Edwards identified as hell. The vivid portrayal was used to form a concrete image of hell, a definite, tangible, fiery hell.The congregation at the time likely had their ears and minds penetrated by the macabre Edwards had produced – which is exactly what he wanted to happen. However, he wasn’t doing this all for shock factor. He wanted to do more than create some cheap thrills for his audience. He genuinely wanted the congregation to “wake up” and face the reality that Jesus must be accepted as savior, and conversion was a must-do. The title of the sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, makes clear that sinners are being held in the Lord’s hand.Clearly stating this in his sermon, Edwards said, “if God should withdraw His hand, [your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means your use for your own preservation] would avail no more to keep you from falling. ” With that said, he was implying that it is God’s hand that provides a barrier between your soul and the fires of hell. Similarly to the vivid imagery used previously, Edwards also compared God’s hand with great waters, the likes of which are, “constantly rising. ” In the odd case that one would not understand that God is the sole purpose many people are not urrently burning in hell, Edwards continued his analogies, stating, “the bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string. ” Essentially, the great waters and bow comparisons mean the same thing. They both mean that at any time, similar to a flood or the shot of an arrow, God’s hand can release the firm grasp it has on the damned human souls resting upon it, sending them straight to hell. The parallel was used to show the simplicity of the situation; no ifs ands or buts. As the sermon closed, Edwards did not forget to leave the congregation with some final morbid images.He produced a degrading image of an angry God holding a sinner over the pit of hell, as one would a spider, furthering the thought that God is the only reason one is not currently burning in hell. Additionally, Edwards said that, “you (the sinner) are ten thousand times more abominable in His eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. ” Once again, one can see Edwards’ continued use of bringing in abstract concepts, such as hell and God’s perspective, and putting them into tangible ideas. This technique served to produce an even more realistic image of what being unconverted and unfaithful to God carries.All in all, it is evident why so many colonial Americans followed the religious bandwagon of the first Great Awakening. With sermons similar to Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, one can be easily swayed to have an alteration of perspectives on religion. With vivid imagery so vivid allowing words to be tangible, cringe worthy diction, and analogies bringing forth abstract concepts to put into real ones, Edwards had gotten his point across: hell is real, and only those who accept God will be the fortunate ones to miss witnessing the hell’s horrors.
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Rhetoric Essay
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