Jonathan Edwards Essay Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Jonathan Edwards, a famous preacher in pre-colonial times, composed a sermon that was driven to alert and inject neo Puritanical fear into an eighteenth century congregation. This Bible based and serious audience sought after religious instruction and enlightenment. Through the sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Edwards offers a very harsh interpretation to humankind. Edwards utilizes various rhetorical techniques to evoke an emotional response in his audience and to persuade the members of his congregation that their wicked actions will awaken a very ruthless and merciless God.

Through the use of imagery and classical appeal of pathos, Jonathan Edwards effectively injects fear into his congregation of their destined fate. "The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back" (Paragraph 11). The use of vivid imagery instills fear into Edward's congregation. Edwards appeals to pathos through this descriptive simile as he describes the devils like hungry lions, waiting for God's command to consume humankind. Edwards states: "The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow" (Paragraph 10). Pathos is present as he descriptively characterizes hell and the pit in great detail. The audience is terrified by the reality of his words and are driven out of fear to listen to what he is saying. Jonathan Edwards compares this banishment and pit to a snake: "The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would he hastily swallowed up and lost" (Paragraph 11). The description of the serpent evokes despair through the congregation. The use of descriptive language and imagery allows Edwards to alert his audience through fear and to make them repent for their evil behavior.

Jonathan Edwards uses exemplification and compare and contrast as a rhetorical strategy from the patterns of development to clarify and elucidate his statements. "We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or single a thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell" (Paragraph 7). Edwards compares the easy task of God, banishing the humans to hell, to those of a human and a worm. Through the use of exemplification and compare and contrast, Edwards effectively simplifies the task of God sentencing the humans to Satan. The audience recognizes the simplicity of this task and is further more fearful of their fate.

In order to justify the statements and beliefs that Edwards makes in his sermon, he relies upon referencing to the Bible and the classical appeals of both logos and ethos. Edwards cites a passage from the book of Isaiah to describe the coming of the merciless Lord: “For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and wifh his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire” (Isaiah 1xvi. 15). Edwards appeals to logos and ethos through this Bible citation. The audience realizes that he is credible and isn’t stating blasphemy. Edwards forms his argument upon the Bible in which they base their religion upon.

The Canons of Rhetoric are used as a rhetorical technique by Edwards to persuade the audience and to carefully construct his argument. Through invention, Edwards proposes his ideas and statements. Edwards utilizes many quotes from the Bible to clarify and support his argument. Arrangement is exercised as he states his propositions and then offers facts that support and back up what he had just previously stated. Throughout this sermon,...
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