Samson Occom and Johnathan Edwards discussed the significance of the philosophical movement of the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment Era. During the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment Era, philosophers Johnathan Edwards and Samson Occom informed others publicly about their beliefs. Edwards and Occom were two distinctive men from different upbringing and identity who sermonized religious principles. These preachers who discussed the importance of Christian philosophy, which originated from teachings of puritanism, had focused on principles of religion throughout their preaching sessions.
Each sermon emphasized the importance of their shared goal, which was to invoke the audience’s intense awareness of their feelings. Edwards described this as a three-stage process: “(1) Fear, anxiety, and distress at one’s sinfulness; (2) absolute dependence on the “sovereign mercy of God in Jesus Christ”; and (3) relief from distress under conviction of sin and joy at being accepted by God” (Goen 14). Edward’s and Occom’s three-step process is shown significantly throughout their sermons of a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and “A Sermon at the Execution of Moses Paul, an Indian.
” While Edwards and Occom share a similar audience and practices of religion, they differ in the rhetorical tools. As both Edwards and Occom are concerned with the influence of practicing spiritual ideology, each philosopher focuses on their personal experience with different ethnic groups.
To begin, Johnathan Edwards was a well-known caucasian revivalist, preacher, and philosopher born in 1703 to a ministering family. At an early age, Edward’s interest in the connection of religion and manuscripts from the universe.
He began his education by studying divinity and earning his degree at Yale College in Massachusetts. After graduation, he joined his grandfather to practice and influence in religious traditions. During this period, the beginning of the Great Awakening influenced Edward’s writings and lectures, similar to preachers who were trying to revive religious practices.
Additionally, his ideas helped shape the teachings from his sermon by appealing to logic and emotion. Johnathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” discusses the insight of the dispute of a dominant God, who exposed his character by promising an everlasting afterlife in Hell for those who rejected him. For those that accepted his ideal gift of grace, would receive an eternal love that was an abundance enough to get into heaven. For example, he states, “[Sinners] are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God that is expressed in the torments of hell” (Edwards 392). This sermon focuses on the religious revival of the great awakening and his ability to preach to his audience on his beliefs. Edward’s main focus was to allow the viewer to express emotions and logic by using persuasive techniques to demonstrate the unlawful and sinful acts that people make and how it affects them in the afterlife.
Samson Occom was a famous Mohegan tribal leader during the Enlightenment Era in 1723 in a native American family household. In the 1700s, Native Americans experienced racism, due to the unfair treatment of having their land being taken from them by Europeans. Occom was the first published native American author in 1772, “A Sermon at the Execution of Moses Paul, an Indian.” In the sermon, the hanging of thirty-two-year-old Moses Paul. Paul was being hanged for murdering a Caucasian man while being intoxicated. During his hanging, Paul requested the Mohegan minister, Samson Occum to give a sermon. He believed that occur would rebuke his hanging from an act of bias against native Americans.
The significance behind this sermon was necessary because his tone was to explain the native’s experiences of hardships and racism. In his speech, he demonstrates that he wants to build Throughout his teachings, Occom discussed the value of religion to his audience by teaching them to place faith in God. Occom wanted to bring the native tribes together to create his ways of enlightenment towards Christianity. He tried to gather individuals to join his native American tribes by influencing people by going into different states. Occom was recruiting from indigenous tribes and bringing in peace between Europeans and natives. Occam’s approach to the matter of natives through empathy by stating, “We are all dying creatures, and accountable unto God,” (Occom 595). They used words like fire, flames of life, burning, and fiery furnace to paint a picture of what would be waiting for the sinners. The imagery that Edward provided to the worshipers describes how they were going to end up if they didn’t follow religion values. This statement concludes that everyone will die someday and what unites us. We can choose to connect knowing that our time on this planet is limited. It’s a humble approach to Paul’s sentence, but it still makes you think, and feel compassion. What separates the sermons is the tone. Edwards is demanding and intimidating, whereas Occom expresses compassion and empathy. Edwards believes that the wicked deserve death because they aren’t following the rules from religion, whereas Occom thinks we should all think about Death daily but doesn’t pressure the audience.
Occom and Edwards were both religious preachers who valued and held similar religious views and the three-step process of rhetoric throughout their sermons. Edwards identifies the first initial step to convince his audience by using “Fear, anxiety, and distress at one’s sinfulness;” (Goen 14). Edwards was trying to corrupt his recruiters as a preacher. He was able to set his ways of Christianity of the natives and broaden his surroundings than Edwards thinking of Christianity. Edwards’s sermon was very persuasive with the use of his deep beliefs by emphasizing that hell was a real place that could await them and how they shall not call on Christ to be saved. Occom focused his sermon through the appeal of pathos, the powerful idea of emotion involved around his sermon, and the execution of Moses Paul. Occom states, “And in a word, Let us all be suitably affected with the melancholy occasion of the day; knowing, that we are all dying creatures, and accountable unto God” (Mcdaniel 971). He makes his sermon aesthetically appealing with his choice of words. His sermon was given before the execution that many gathered to see justice in their eyes. Occom focused on his belief in his words, ” It is an unwelcome task for me to speak upon such occasion; but since it is the desire of the poor man himself, who is to die a shameful death this day, in conscience I cannot deny him; I must endeavor to do the great work the dying man requests” (971). However, Edwards had a powerful word choice but also focused on the imagery that came along with it. Focusing on the idea that God had given humans a chance to confess their sins and stating that it is the will of God that has kept crazed men from entering Hell, Edwards emphasizes that this act of restraint allows humans to trust and believe in Christ.
Next, the second stage process involves both preachers discussing the importance of trusting in God by stating “absolute dependence on the “sovereign mercy of God in Jesus Christ” (Goen 14). Edwards exemplifies his idea of dependence on religious ideology to his audience by using imagery and repetition throughout his sermons. For example, “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire” (Edwards 399). This idea describes to the audience on how God is holding us up over hell and is trying to save us from the burning pits. However, Edward ended his sermon with, “Haste and escaped for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed” (402).
To me, this meant that all of the sinners in sitting in that service are already doomed to go to hell. Occom however, spoke about eternity and forgiveness. He told the congregation “you shall have eternal life; and when you come to die, your souls will be received into heaven” (606). This is a major difference between the two speakers. The people that listened to Edwards seemed to be chastised by him with little hope of redemption, while Occom gave the people nothing but hope. Especially to Moses after the crime that he committed, he told him that if “you now openly believe in, and received the Lord Jesus Christ; it would be the beginning of heavenly days with your poor soul” (Occom 602). By using repetition, religious ideology, and conspiracy theories, their sermons preached with the purpose of reaching people and bringing them back to God.
The final stage of the rhetoric stage process was “relief from distress under conviction of sin and joy at being accepted by God” (Goen 14). Both preachers provide a sense of relief for their audience by discussing in their sermons. Edwards begins his sermon of relief by stating that individuals that “an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open” (Edwards 401). This statement refers to the people who are being accepted by God through his mercy. As a result, this is a “relief from their distress” of being accepted by God.
Similarly, Occom also provided relief to his audience. He states in his sermon, “eternal life and happiness is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (599-600). This provides a sense of relief because he is explaining by quoting biblical verses of the apostle John and daniel’s dependence on God. Both authors proved to their audience their “relief of distress” of the last step, by supporting and presenting their ideas of mercy and repentance to their audience. As a result, both preachers provided comfort and stability to the audience because they’re introduced to repentance. Both authors are showing the viewer a sense of relief and solutions to help get into heaven, hence why their sermons were successful in their third step of the rhetoric process.
Although both preachers presented a similar rhetoric three-step process, both Occom and Edwards differ in tone. Both speak about the consequences of leading a sinful life, Occom’s message is more favorable. He tells the people that even though a life of sin leads to damnation, he also talks about gaining salvation through repentance. He refers to this salvation as a gift given by God. As he puts it, “It is a gift and bestowed on the greatest sinners, and upon their true repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Occom 602). Edwards’ message is bleaker. He seems to focus more on God’s ability to punish than to save. For example, he says, “There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment” (Edwards 391). Another difference is that Edward’s sermon is directed to a more general audience. Occom seems to switch between addressing the crowd and speaking directly to Moses Paul.
Additionally, Occom speaks directly to other Native Americans for part of the sermon. He most likely felt the need and the ability to do so because he was Native American. Occom also differs from Edwards in that he focuses a lot of his sermon on one “sin,” drinking. He says, “when a person is drunk, he is just good for nothing in the world” (McDaniel605). Moses Paul was about to be hung for a crime he committed while drunk.
Although both preachers presented similar religious ideologies, the most influential was Occom’s difference in the tone of his sermon. Edward’s background of being very smart and manipulative by using the church and biblical quotes. He was trying to corrupt many individuals to believe that his sermons are powerful that it influenced individuals to beg for mercy and lead to depression for God’s acceptance. On the other hand, Occom was trying to influence individuals by bringing peace through his use of tone between the native Americans of the enlightenment of Christianity. He began to recruit from different native tribes by bringing in peace through his sermons, while Edwards was trying to corrupt individuals through the use of scaring them of God’s mercy. Occom influences others further by going into different states by and broaden his surroundings than Edwards. Edwards was thinking more of Christianity near his vicinity. He was trying to pursue and push the effort of Christianity values by using god to scare them. He used the wrong approach. Edwards was very egotistical but intelligent by his use of god. Occom wants to provide as a team and use god to scare individuals away, rather than influence and bring peace in their life with the use of god. The Puritans’ and natives race is causing the rhetoric tools that each preacher used that lead to conflict.
Edwards and Occom differed in race and had to use different rhetoric approaches towards their audience of different races. Johnathan Edwards is a white, intelligent preacher who used a persistent and uncomfortable approach by scaring individuals of religion. Samson Occom, a native American, who valued peace and the importance of understanding god’s practices through his sermons. Throughout each author’s lectures, they were both very persuasive and believed in what they preached. They both knew their audience, hence why it was easier to relate to their audiences. Each preacher had the same goal of wanting to express their love for god. However, they used different approaches through the use of rhetorical devices.
Brooks, Joanna. “Six Hymns by Samson Occom.” Early American Literature, vol. 38, no. 1, 2003, pp. 67–87. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25057296.
Edwards, Jonathan. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The Norton Anthology American Literature: Beginnings to 1820, edited by Robert S. Levine and Sandra M. Gustafson, 9th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 390-402.
McDaniel, Judith M. “Rhetoric Reconsidered: Preaching as Persuasion.” Sewanee Theological Review, vol. 41, no. 3, 1998, pp. 241. ProQuest, https://login.proxy189.nclive.org/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/214712659?accountid=15152.
Paul R. Lucas. The Journal of American History, vol. 56, no. 4, 1970, pp. 895–897. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1917532.
Occom, Samson. “A Sermon at the Execution of Moses Paul, an Indian.” The Norton Anthology American Literature: Beginnings to 1820, edited by Robert S. Levine and Sandra M. Gustafson, 9th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 595-606.