Jonathan Edwards

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Jonathan Edwards was a man who could petrify any eighteenth century Puritan. He was born in East Windsor, Connecticut and was raised in a household with strict religious beliefs. In 1727 he began his preaching career as an assistant to his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, the pastor at the church at Northampton, Massachusetts. When his grandfather died two years later, Edwards became the pastor of the Church at Northampton and began preaching all over New England. He then emerged as one of the leaders of the Great Awakening with his determination to return to the orthodoxy of the Puritan faith. That is when he adopted his “fire and brimstone” emotional style of sermon. Although people often ran out of the church in hysterics, most stayed in the church captivated by his speeches. He had always purposely chose to address his congregation with a sermon, using all of the elements of an oratory. In Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Jonathan Edwards displays all elements of an oratory by appealing to emotions, including expressive and rhythmic language, addressing the needs and concerns of his audience, and inspiring others to take action. Jonathan Edwards used three key emotions to appeal to his audience: fear, pity, and guilt. He created fear by showing sinners their future if they were to continue to sin. Puritans were avid believers in the afterlife, and when Edwards explains a dreadful “long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all…” this exploits the Puritans worst fears of a bleak afterlife. (Edwards 105). He also gave the “bandwagon effect” to Puritans, individu... ... middle of paper ... ...nique again by saying “how awful is it to be left behind” while all of the other Puritans are feasting and singing of joy with god, the sinner is burning in Hell. (104). He inspires his audience to want to change their ways and acquire salvation. By appealing to emotions, inspiring others to take action, addressing the needs and concerns of his audience, and including expressive and rhythmic language Edwards displays all of the elements of an oratory. Because of these techniques, Edwards’s emotional sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God remains to be his most famous work. It sparked curiosity in religion and contributed a great deal to the Great Awakening movement. Although the oratory is not as popular as it once was, traces of it can still be heard in courtrooms and churches. The oratory will always play an important role in America’s history and future.
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