Jonathan Edwards's Sinners in the Hands on an Agry God
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Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is the epitome of a fire and brimstone sermon. Edwards was able to deliver this speech with force, power, and charisma. However this sermon effectively portrays Edwards’s own interpretation of man’s sinful nature and God’s wrathful nature even when read silently. Jonathan Edwards is capable of effectively communicating that his position as a reverend is a means of legitimizing his ability to interpret the bible and all of its scriptures. Edwards finds success in his speech by his use of vivid and violent imagery. By doing this Edwards is able to do two things, one convince his parishioners that as a man of God he has the authority to be an interpreter of the bible. He forces his audience into trusting him by constructing strong emotional reactions that incites fear and panic into his audience. He thus plays on the audiences’ loyalties to the bible as well as biblical and religious authority figures.
Jonathan Edwards is careful to create a specific focal point throughout the sermon. This focal point quickly becomes his own interpretation of God and his wrath. Throughout the sermon Edwards creates and visualizes his own interpretation of God’s nature. Edwards expands on this in section 2 when he says, “We often read of the fury of God” as well as “And in many other places. So, Rev. 19:15, we read of "the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been said, "the wrath of God," the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful: but it is "the fierceness and wrath of God." The fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful that must be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in...
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...hell is not only a spiritual or mental place or concept. By creating this physical notion of hell Edwards can continue to express the severity of their damnation. “There are the black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder”
Obviously when this was written and delivered both the Old and New Testaments had been written. However it is interesting that Jonathan Edwards really only discusses and depicts an Old Testament God. This God only has one pleasure, which is to heave most of humanity (those who are sinners) into the pits of hell. There is no discussion on the changes that come with the New Testament. He never mentions how God’s old pleasure of torture of humans in now barred by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This furthers Edwards’s argument that he is truly genuine interpreter of the bible.