Readers In the Presence Of a Preaching Puritan
Jonathan Edwards was a Puritan preacher present during the time of the Great Awakening, a time period in colonial America when religion gained a massive resurgence. He (as well as George Whitefield) was a key figure in the time, due primarily to his awe-inspiring sermons depicting the horrors of hell. One of his sermons, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, held many similarities to his others: it depicts the scorching fire, and the suffering, and the wickedness, and the reality of a hell that all unconverted people will go to if they do not completely accept God as their true savior and lord. In order for Edwards to have grasped his audience with fear, he showered upon the audience vivid imagery, threatening diction, and analogies to get his point across: there is a hell, and God’s hand is ready to flick you into its fiery pit, unless God is accepted and you go through conversion. Edwards delivers such a passionate sermon so that he can help revive the religious fervor he believes should be spread.
To introduce his sermon, Edwards was very quick to make real the concept of a hell. He utilized horrifying imagery with words such as “hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them,” that vividly portrayed what Edwards identified as hell. The vivid portrayal was used to form a concrete image of hell, a definite, tangible, fiery hell. The congregation at the time likely had their ears and minds penetrated by the macabre Edwards had produced – which is exactly what he wanted to happen. However, he wasn’t doing this all for shock factor. He wanted to do more than create some cheap thrills for his audience. He genuinely wanted the congregation to “wake up” and face the reality that Jesus must be accepted as savior, and conversion was a must-do.
The title of the sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, makes clear that sinners are being held in the...
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