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Jonathan Edward delivers the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in a Puritan Church, known for its strict religion and literal interpretation of the Bible. In his sermon, he talk about God’s wrath, eternal damnation, and consequences. Edwards utilizes imagery, figures of speech, and alliteration in his sermon to capture his audience’s attention to become fearful of eternal damnation.
In the “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, Johnathan Edward uses alliteration to provide rhythm, sound, and tone to help the reader's focus on a specific part of the sermon.
Edward says in his sermon, '... and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or indoor it..'(88). Alliteration is being used to reinforce the subject of the sermon which is that the sinner will be condemned to hell if they do return to worship God.
The repetition of certain alphabets used specifically in alliteration can also contribute to the overall tone of the sermon. Towards the end of the sermon, Edward changes his tone when he says, '...are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has to love them, and wash them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of the God'(91). In this statement, the 'h' sound creates a softer, more hopeful tone so his audience may continue to seek forgiveness for a chance at heaven.
The use of alliteration helps the author to reinforce and emphasize to the readers the purpose of the sermon.
Jonathan Edward appealed to his audience's vulnerability by using powerful, elemental imagery of nature. Edward starts off his sermon by saying, 'This is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. The world of misery, the lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful purge of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is Hell's gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything to take hold of…'(87) Edward had in mind his shock and disgust of all sin occurring in the world and he showcased his emotions in the form of imagery. In the sermon, he says, ' hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder'(89). Edward uses imagery to convey to his congregation of God’s wrath. Edwards, in his sermon, used loads of imagery, and he did this because it would make the audience who does not take religion seriously to imagine horrific images, easily persuading them to follow the religion of Christ.
Jonathan Edwards uses several metaphors and similes to persuade his audience. 'Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure toward hell…' stated on page 88. Edward compares the sinner's sins as heavy as lead in the eyes of God. He conveys to his audience that if they do not repent their sins and obey God's law, then they will be damned to eternal Hell. Edward goes on in his sermon saying, 'The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow…' (88) The image of a bent bow,made by God’s wrath, indicates how close God is to unleashing his wrath upon the sinners. Edward uses similes and metaphors in his sermon to create anxiety in his congregation that will have them committed to the church.
Edwards word choice that he uses to describe the power of God and Hell awaiting those who have sinned easily penetrating the minds of his congregation frightening them from disobeying God's Law. Edwards held his audience’s attention with his repetition of eternal Hell if people do not begin repenting for God's forgiveness. The audience were able to create their own image based on his use of rhetoric devices and became fearful of God's power. In this way, he was able to making his congregation committed to the church.
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