Puritan Life
• Lasts until about 1750ish (fluid change)
• Big Ideas
– Sought to “purify” or simplify creeds/rituals
– Derived from teachings of John Calvin (150964) and Martin Luther (1484-1546) but New
England clergy felt free to disagree
– Calvin’s doctrines of predestination and
Puritan Government does not last
• There is a rising emphasis on
independence in Puritanism
• America becomes increasingly secular
as different people begin to settle the
…In come creeping ideas of the
Enlightenment/ Great Awakening
• Enlightenment Ideas:
– Focus on reason/ logic
– Principles of equality and social justice
– Suggest that humans might assume greater control
of nature without offending the majesty of God
– Increasing emphasis on independence
• Great Awakening Ideas:
– Revitalization of religious ideas
– No more outworn rituals
– Used reason/logic in their sermons to help explain
religious dimension
George Whitefield, one of the
most famous evanglists
Jonathan Edwards
• Represented the fullest intellectual
development of the Calvinist Puritans: his
hard intellect and authoritarian convictions
were tempered by human tenderness and
spiritual sensitivity
• The last and most gifted defender of
• Attempted to revive the Puritan sensibility
in an era of increasing science, business
and secularization
Born too late…
• Edwards was born in 1703, in CT
• Enrolled in Yale at 13: found, before other
Americans, in Locke a development of
empiricism which he used to develop ideas of
• Was a pastor in MA for 14 years; published 15
books; helped to spread the “Great Awakening”
• 1750: after growing resistance to his orthodoxy,
he was exiled from his congregation
• Became pastor and Indian missionary at a
frontier village; appointed president of Nassau
Hall (Princeton), but he died within three months
“Sinners in the Hands of An Angry
Part One: Initial Impressions
• What was stirring, striking, or
memorable to you in reading this
sermon? Pick two traits or characteristics
that most struck you, citing specific
textual examples from the tract.
“Sinners in the Hands of An Angry
Part Two: Using Imagery
• What images or analogies does Jonathan
Edwards use to evoke the situation of the
• What themes does Edwards wish to
communicate to his listeners from these
• How are listeners meant to feel?
Some Images/Analogies:
• Falling
• Chaff and whirlwind
• Dry stubble and flames
• Worm and foot
• Thread and scissors
• Person on rotten covering
• Lead
• Rock and spider’s web
• Black clouds full of rain and thunder
• Dammed waters ready to burst forth
• Bow and arrow
“Sinners in the Hands of An Angry
Part Three: Using Reason and Logic
• Look at pages 171-174. Here, Edwards
addresses a number of assumptions that
people believe about their salvation by
giving them counterpoints to their
arguments. Looking ONLY AT YOUR
GROUP NUMBER, explain what
assumption people make and what
counterpoint Edwards gives.
“Sinners in the Hands of An Angry
Part Four: Using Contrast
• Look at page 179-181, at the last paragraph
(“And now you have an extraordinary
opportunity”). How does Edwards’ imagery
and tone change in the last few pages of his
• What purpose do you think Edwards is
using his sermon for? Look at pg 182, the
second to last paragraph for help (“The first
instance that I remember…”). How does he
wish his people to respond?
• Convince listeners of God’s power
• Emphasize importance of working
towards conversion, living a Christian life
• Unsettle congregants in order to spur
lifestyle changes
How People are Meant to Respond:
• Re-evaluation of priorities
• Change in view and understanding of
• Alteration of external and personal lives
• Resolution to strive for conversion
“Sinners in the Hands of An Angry
Part Five: Unlocking the Persuasive
• What makes this sermon effective? How
does he utilize all the techniques in parts
two, three and four to elicit conversion
from his congregation?
Effective Techniques
• Compelling and familiar imagery (from Bible
and of Edwards’ invention)
• Relation to the audience (addressing the
congregation’s assumptions about God and
salvation; discussing the possibility of even one
congregant being condemned to hell)
• Repetition of messages and images (ensures
comprehension, but admittedly risks boredom)
• Stirring of audience to change (by use of
compelling and fearful imagery; used
reason/logic to dispel escuses)
• Doesn’t just frighten listeners - offers a way to
change the situation (Christian life, aspiring
towards conversion)

History Recap and Sinners