Charles Chauncy “Enthusiasm Described and Caution’d Against” In the excerpt from his sermon “Enthusiasm Described and Caution’d Against” from 1742, Charles Chauncy makes use of metaphors and similes in order to describe the so called “enthusiasts”. On the other hand, he changes his register by incorporating words related to business and thus establishes a contrast between the “enthusiasts” and the “reasonable” (387) followers of God.
Towards the beginning of the application of his sermon, Chauncy sharply criticizes the form of enthusiasm people have experienced and metaphorically describes “this enthusiasm” (381) as “a disease, a sort of madness” (381). In order to show that enthusiasts become obsessed over spiritual conversion he further explains the “[…] certain wildness [that] is discernible in their general look and air […]” (Chauncy 381) and that this enthusiam “[…] affects their bodies, throws them into convulsions and distortions, into quakings and tremblings” (Chauncy 381).
Chauncy additionally compares the enthusiasts to animals by employing a simile, urging enthusiasts to come to their senses and make use of “[their] reasonable powers and not act as the horse or mule” (387). He accuses them of being “in a corrupt state” (Chauncy 387) which makes it impossible for them to act reasonably and use their common sense to understand the Bible and choose to live with “due dependence on God” ( Chauncy 387).
Finally, in order to contrast the enthusiasts’ “corrupt state” to something that is, in Chauncy’s understanding, reasonable, he changes his diction to show that the enthusiasts counterfeit “the Spirit’s operations” (389). He makes further use of words related to business in that context, referring to the Spirit’s “business of salvation” ( Chauncy 389) for “it is by [His] powerful operation” (Chauncy 389) that people can be changed inside their hearts if they cooperate with God (389). According to Chauncy, “those who are too much led by their fancies”...
Cited: Chauncy, Charles. “Enthusiasm Described and Caution’d Against.” America in Literature. Vol. 1. Ed. David Lewin and Theodore L. Gross. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1978. 379-90. Print.
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