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Sinners In The Hands Of Angry God: Jonathan Edward’s Use Of Similes And Metaphors

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” uses some of the best and most interesting metaphors and similes. “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” is a puritan sermon written to bring people back to religion. Although the intent of this sermon is a common one the way in which it is written is not. It is written in such a way that even while it demeans the congregation it frightens them into submission. Edwards does this by using metaphors and similes to create vivid imagery in people’s minds.

Some of the most vital aspects of Edwards’s sermons were metaphors. Edwards used many metaphors to make his sermons more compelling and engrossing. But these metaphors could also be very abhorrent. One of the metaphors is “ We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that ant thing hangs by; thus easy is it for God when he pleases to cast his enemies down to hell.” He uses this line to make his congregation understands that God in omnipotent and can send them to hell whenever he wants. As harsh as this is the congregation took this in their minds as a reason to not sin, as was Edwards’s purpose.

Another metaphor used by Edwards to brainwash his congregation is “ The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow.” This second metaphor closely follows the first to illustrate what hell will be like. It compares hell to a furnace, showing the heat and fire. He first tells them that God will cast them into hell on a whim then he makes them realize just how awful this would be. This shows that Edwards is a true literary genius, he understands how to affect people with his speaking. One more metaphor used by Edwards is “ The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire…” This metaphor talks about how God could care less about you, you are to him as a spider is to you. He makes it obvious that we are all nothing in the eyes of the almighty.

Edwards also uses forceful narration to produce vivid imagery. His imagery forces the listeners to visualize hell and how easily they could end up there.

One sentence that provokes vivid images is “It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of almighty God one moment; buy you must suffer it to all eternity”. Edwards conjures images of torture and everlasting pain. He asserts that not only will you go to hell but also you will indefinitely endure torture that would be unbearable for a bare moment. Another extraordinary image producing phrase is “ How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition?” In this Edwards creates an image of everyone celebrating and generally being happy. But while this is going on you endure torture and are left behind in hell while others go to heaven. He shows just how awful those punishments given by God are.

In “ Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Edwards is able to easily convince his congregation of their wrongdoing easily. Edwards does this by using amazing imagery and innovative metaphors. Edwards constantly reminds his people that they are going to hell and how awful it will be. The sermon was extremely effective then and could well be now. For effectiveness now though, it may need to be changed in a number of ways to suit the current times and mindset.

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