Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Jonathan Edwards favored the idea of the old strict Puritan teachings that place emphasis on people to live out hard and simple lives for God. In his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, he addresses the issues of man as a sinner and God’s resentment toward those sinners. Each sentence in his sermon aims for catching the congregation’s attention in which he hopes to instill guilt and fear out of the people. Edwards uses a variety of persuasive techniques, including phrases, simple metaphors, and similes to persuade sinners to repent, in order to be saved and not be damned to Hell for eternity.
To attract the audience’s attention, Edwards begins his sermon to the congregation by stating, “There is nothing between you and Hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up. ” He conveys that there is no guarantee the people will not be dropped into the flames at any given moment, should God so decide. He can easily do it and let go, but whether or not one is sent to Hell simply depends on that persons actions towards God.
Edwards also then states again, “tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. ” Edwards uses both of these phrases, similar to each other, to portray God as all powerful and all knowing. Through his sermon, Edwards uses metaphors to express his feelings more clearly. An example of this would be, “The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart. This metaphor shows that God is so powerful that he could unleash his wrath at any moment but his kindness in return saves them. Another example of a metaphor used to frighten the people is, “There are the black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads. ” This metaphor can be interpreted as the flood in the book of Genesis. The black clouds remind the congregation of the storm and the great destruction resulting from the flood; it can be seen as a possible punishment for their sins. To make his message easier to understand, Edwards uses similes to emphasize ertain characteristics of things.
To achieve this purpose he writes, “The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present. ” With this, Edwards creates God as more than a force of nature. He is explaining that the more people continue to sin, the greater the wrath of God increases and once it reaches that certain point, all will be let loose and destroyed. To convince the congregation Hell is in fact a reality Edwards writes, “The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire. This emphasizes how God will let them burn in Hell because he despises their sins and wrongful doings. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, is a moving and powerful sermon that persuaded Edwards’ congregation to join him in his Christian beliefs. He uses God as the higher power in order to keep the audience’s attention. Through his descriptions of the punishments of sin and the horrific attributes of Hell, he instills fear in the hearts of his congregation. Edwards tells all that they have to turn away from sin and go to God to be saved, or else they will live a life of eternal damnation.