The Great Awakening: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Rev. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
The Great Awakening • What historians call "the first Great Awakening" can best be described as a revitalization of religious piety that swept through the American colonies between the 1730s and the 1770s. • In emotionally charged sermons, all the more powerful because they were delivered extemporaneously, preachers like Jonathan Edwards evoked vivid, terrifying images of the utter corruption of human nature and the terrors awaiting the unrepentant in hell. • Hence Edwards's famous description of the sinner as a loathsome spider suspended by a slender thread over a pit of seething brimstone in his best known sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."
The Great Awakening • When Jonathan Edwards delivered a sermon, with its fiery descriptions of hell and eternal damnation, people listened. • Edwards believed that religion should be rooted in emotion rather than reason. • Edwards is recognized today as a masterful preacher. • In fact, he is considered by many to be America’s GREATEST religious thinker.
A Spiritual Calling • Born in East Windsor, Connecticut • Edwards was a child prodigy and entered what is now Yale University at the age of 12 • In 1772, after finishing his education, Edwards followed the path of his father and grandfather and became a Puritan Minister.
Religious Revivalist • Edwards soon became an effective preacher. • In 1734 and 173, he delivered a series of sermons that resulted in a great number of conversions. • Edward’s sermons helped trigger the Great Awakening. • Delivered during the height of The Great Awakening, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is the most famous of Edward’s nearly 1,200 sermons.
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” • The “natural men” he was trying to reach with his sermon were those in the congregation who had not been “born again.” • They had not accepted Jesus as their savior. • Edward’s sermon had a powerful effect • Several times he had to ask his shrieking and fainting audience for quiet.
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Literary Terms • Figures of speech • Metaphors, similes, personification • Rhetorical Devices • Parallelism – repetition of words or phrases that have similar grammatical structure • Repetition • Analogy and imagery
Literary Analysis: Sermon • A Sermon is a form of religious persuasion in which a speaker exhorts listeners to behave in a more spiritual and moral fashion. They are usually shaped by: • Purpose: Why Edward’s delivers the sermon • Audience: Whom Edward’s is addressing • Context: When and Where Edwards delivers the sermon
Edwards’ Purpose • To strike fear into the listeners in order to convince them that they need to live a life of humility and righteousness.
Edwards’ Message • You are all in hell, but God is keeping you out by his grace • God can abandon you whenever he wants • Become reborn in Christ so that you can be rescued
Analyzing Persuasive Techniques: Logical, Ethical, and Emotional Appeals • Logical Appeal: Appeals to your sense of logic. These appeals rely on logic and facts, appealing to your reasoning or intellect rather than to your values or emotions. • Ethical Appeal: Appeals to your sense of ethics. These appeals establish a writers credibility and trustworthiness with an audience. When a writer links a claim to a widely accepted value, for example, the writer not only gains moral support for that claim but also establishes a connection with readers. • Emotional Appeal: Appeals to your emotions. These messages are designed to persuade an audience by creating strong feelings rather than by providing facts and evidence. Writers often use tone, imagery, and figurative language to make these types of emotional appeals. • appeal to fear, which taps into your fear of losing your safety and security • appeal to pity, which takes advantage of your sympathy and compassion for others. • appeal to vanity, which relies on your desire to feel good about yourself.
Discussion/Analysis • Identify his rhetorical devices and use of imagery • How does Edwards see God? What does he mean by “men are held in the hand of God”? How do you escape God’s anger? • How do we view God today? • How would Edwards have viewed a national tragedy, such as September 11?