Reading and Analyzing

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Sermon
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”
By: Jonathan Edwards
1
 Edwards
preaches that all humans are sinners
poised between heaven and hell.
 Those who believe in and accept Christ,
Edwards declares, will go to heaven.
 Those who refuse Christ will be condemned
to hell.
 Focusing

your Reading:
Persuasive Writing
2
 Literary
Analysis: Persuasive Writing
 Frightening powers Edwards attributes
to God and emotions in this view of God
creates for Edwards audience who he is
trying to persuade:
 Example:
Edwards claims that God is able to take
wicked people at any time by saying that
God’s wrath is directed at “unconverted
men” (pg. 154).
 Edwards is try to persuade his listeners to
become born again and thus escape this
wrath.

3

Literary Analysis: Emotional Language
Edwards chooses his language very carefully to
achieve the greatest emotional effect on his
listeners.
 Loaded words and phrases that Edwards uses to
convey God’s view of human beings:




Language such as loathsome insect, worthy of
nothing else, abhors, and abominable-shows God’s
distaste for human beings.
Dreadfully provoked and wrath show His anger.
All of these words depict the wickedness of
people who have not been “born again”
through Christ.

Edwards’s listeners would have felt guilty and
afraid, making them more likely to do what he
recommended to avoid going to hell.
4
 Literary


Analysis: Repetition
Edwards uses the word nothing and repeats
the word to alert listeners; emphasizing that
human beings are nothing and can do
nothing.
Example:

“…Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save
yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath,
nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have
done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to
spare you one moment…(pg. 156).
5



Literary Analysis: Persuasive Writing
To be most effective, persuasive writing must anticipate
the counter arguments that readers or listeners might
have. Edwards refutes in this passage the thought that
listeners might think that they do not need to be “born
again” because they already live according to God’s
principles. Edwards says that this is not enough to save
them from hell.
Example Passage:

“How dreadful is the state of those that are daily
and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and
infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of
every soul in this congregation that has not been
born again, however moral and strict, sober and
religious, they may otherwise be…” (pg. 156).
6


Literary Analysis: Emotional Language
Emotionally powerful words and phrases that
Edwards uses to describe the state of those who
heed Christ’s call and the effect this language
would have had on his listeners:







Examples:
Door of mercy wide open
Happy state
Hearts filled with love
Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God
Singing for joy of heart
Effect this language would have had on his
listeners: These words would have made the
congregation long to share in the happiness of
the converted.
7
 1.
Describe the most vivid image
from this sermon and how it made
you feel?
 God holds people over the pit of
hell as humans would hold a spider
over a fire.
8
Comprehension Check
 According to this sermon, what is a constant
threat to all human beings?



According to this sermon, which people are
spared God’s wrath?


All human beings are in danger of being sent to hell
by God at any moment.
People who have undergone a change of heart and
been born again are spared God’s wrath.
What does Edwards say sinners can do to save
themselves?

Sinners who love and accept Christ can save
themselves.
9


2. Would you want to hear another of Edwards
sermons? Why or why not?
 Yes, because Edwards is a strong, emotional
speaker who truly believes in what he preaches.
 No, because his speeches are too harsh and they
evoke feelings of fear.
3.Emotional Language-Two that are the most
emotionally charged:
 Loathsome insect and worthy of nothing else
 Edwards chooses his words carefully to make his
message more powerful.
 His words emphasize the lowliness of humans and
the torments of hell.
10
 4.
Why do you think people were
persuaded to change their lives as a
result of Edwards sermon?
 Edwards
convinced many of God’s
power over human beings by
comparing it to our ease in crushing a
worm.
 Despite the threat of being sent to hell
by God at any moment, Edwards
offers hope and an escape from hell
through Jesus.
11

5. What can you draw about the spiritual
beliefs and values of the people who
belonged to Edwards’s congregation?
 The people believed that human beings are
inherently evil and can only escape hell
through God’s grace, not by anything they
do themselves.
 6.
How would you describe the view of
human beings and the view of God
presented in this sermon?


Human beings are presented as powerless
to control their own lives or help
themselves.
God is presented as powerful and
threatening.
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