Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God

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In his strong and most famous sermon to the congregation at Enfield, Connecticut, in 1741, Pastor Jonathan Edwards is trying to awaken the "natural men" in the congregation who had not accepted Jesus as their savior. He perceives himself very religiously and is strong-willed, making him appear credible. Edwards's purpose is to move the "sinners" to want repentance, by frightening them with his use of words in portraying God. Through the use of rhetorical devices, Edwards presents himself, God, and the congregation. Through the use of rhetorical repetition, Edwards presents himself almost sinless. “There is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.” By never referring to himself in his sermon, it is apparent that Edwards was one of God's gracious gifts to the church. He also says, “...and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf...” Edwards shows no compassion for the sinners, as he bluntly tells them of the consequences they may face if they do not seek repentance. “…and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell…” Through the use of imagery, Edwards presents God as a frightening figure. He vividly portrays God as one who is to be greatly feared, by continuously reminding the congregation of God’s wrath in his sermon. “The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind…” One listening to Edwards sermon at the time had probably panicked at hearing this, afraid that the fearful and almighty God would bring their destruction if they continued to live in sin. However, he does also show that God is compassionate when he says, “…and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the...
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