Metaphors: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathon Edwards is an important piece of early American literature. The purpose of this sermon, written in 1741, was to persuade congregations to devote themselves fully to Puritan beliefs. It is characterized by the author’s use of emotional language, strong imagery and intense metaphors to paint a horrifying picture of eternal damnation for unsaved individuals. Through these techniques, Edwards effectively creates a vivid picture for the audience, depicting Hell and God’s wrath if they do not repent. In the writing, three strong metaphors in particular exemplify the sharp tone of the author. The first example of a strong metaphor used to great effect in creating a vivid visualization for the audience is: “The God the holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours…” In this segment, Edwards’ goal is to gain hold of the congregation’s emotions. He goes on to describe how poorly God thinks of those unconverted individuals, comparing them to nothing more than “spiders and loathsome insects” and “venomous serpents”. It is a simple comparison used to evoke a complex response from his congregation. The audience is fearful that, like the spider or insect, they are small and helpless against the vengeful God. Also in this section, Edwards compares God’s wrath to that of a fire. This statement is used to create a visual connection with the intensity of a fire to God’s intense wrath. Edwards is saying that God is not kind or forgiving to humans living in sin. By wording the statement this way, the audience can...
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