Ben Franklin and Jonathan Edwards

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Imagine being told how to make a moral and not an immoral life decision. In recent discussions regarding learning forms, a controversial issue has been whether it is better for people to learn through fear or through positive example. On the one hand, some argue that learning through fear teaches discipline. On the other hand, however, others argue that learning by positive example teaches nothing and is shortly forgotten. It appears that it is better to frighten the learner into making the right choice than to show them how it is done. Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” and Benjamin Franklin’s, “Autobiography,” portray how to succeed in the world in two completely different ways. Edwards speaks through an angry tone scaring the people to do well, while Franklin speaks using the toned voice of a caring person. Edwards uses frightening imagery to depict his thoughts, while Franklin tells stories of his own noble life to illustrate his thoughts. Edwards’ point of view is second person as in “you” where “you” will be in life if “you” don’t change, while Franklin teaches the reader how to get there based on his own experiences. By comparing Edwards’ and Franklin’s use of tone, image, and point of view the reader comes to see that it is better for people to learn through fear than example, because it will be instilled in their minds forever.

The tones each of the writers use are unique and convey different themes on how to be successful in the real world. Jonathan Edwards’ delivers his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” to the congregation at Enfield, Connecticut, in 1741. He speaks to them in a way that shocks them into following he correct path of life. Edwards declares, “You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but don't see the hand of God in it, but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for...
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