“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”
Do people change religion or does religion change people? The Great Awakening was a spiritual revival that affected Western Europe, New England, and America in the eighteenth century. During this period, enthusiasm for the old Puritan belief began to abate. The Great Awakening focused on sinners’ absolute reliance upon divine mercy. Jonathan Edwards and his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” would be the height of the Great Awakening. Edwards was a minister and a preacher. It was thought he would become a great inventor or scientist; however he embarked down the road of religion. Jonathan Edward’s eminent sermon has endowed upon us numerous persuasive techniques including similes, repetition, and imagery.
Mr. Edwards prominently uses his words to persuade the congregation to repent from their sinful ways. One of the devices he uses in his sermon is similes. Similes are comparisons that use the words “like” or “as”. Throughout his sermon you can identify such uses of this technique. For example, Edwards effectively exclaimed, “Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell” (1). In another section of his sermon he foretold, “The wrath of God is like great waters…they increase more and more…till an outlet is given” (2). Continuing on through his sermon he asserted, “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider…over the fire, abhors you” (2). In all three examples Edwards uses the words “like” or “as” to compare two subjects with one another. In the first example, the congregation was informed that their wickedness made them drop downwards to hell because it was as heavy as led. This created a sense of fear which forced them to continue listening on as they were persuaded by his words. In the second example the sinners understood that God’s anger is like great waters that build up until they are let loose. The...
Cited: American Experience Vol. 1. Print.
Edwards, Jonathan. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” in the American Experience Vol. 1. Print.
Handouts: Rhetorical Devices and Persuasive Techniques.
Spiller, Robert. The Cycle of American Literature. New York: The Free Press. 1970. Print.
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