Analysis of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”
Edwards once gave a sermon titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. As a priest it was his duty to persuade his congregation to live a just life free of sins. It was his responsibility to strengthen his congregation’s belief in God and to always guide them down the righteous path. These ideas eventually served as the foundation/ purpose for delivering this speech to the public. In his speech he focuses on the ideas of hell, predetermined destinies, and an angry god. He constantly repeats these topics throughout his speech while incorporating very powerful and dark diction and imagery.
His word choice and imagery truly has an impact on the audience. It manipulates the reader’s /listener’s subconscious and leaves them terrified of what future lay ahead for them if they continue to live an immoral life. For example, in paragraph two, sentence four, he states “There is a dreadful glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up. From this sentence alone you are given the impression that the author has a very angry, ominous, condescending, indignant, judgmental, and pessimistic tone. He does all this in an effort to show that God is a very powerful, all knowing being that has control of all aspects of life and death. Although he is understanding and watches over his followers, he has an inescapable grasp and is capable of showing no mercy to sinners. I personally like this piece because it truly persuades the reader/listener to second guess their every move in order to follow the path to virtuousness.
I also really enjoyed their powerful use of imagery because with every phrase they used my mind was capable of conjuring up dark images of God’s almighty power and wrath as well as the fiery pit of hell. After closely analyzing this speech and the time period in which it was written I was able to infer that the Puritan culture was very religious and close minded due to their quite extremist views of God, hell, and life in general.