Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God Book Review
Between the 1730s and the 1770s, England’s North American colonies experienced a religious revival. The event is now known as the First Great Awakening. Most of the colonies are religiously divided: Pennsylvania for Quackers, Plymouth founded for Pilgrims, Maryland for Catholics,… The largest religious group in the New England are, however, was the Puritans. In fact, Johnathan Edwards, a Puritan, uses positive and negative diction and imagery to convince members of his congregation to undergo an emotional conversion with his sermon “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.”
In the first place, negative diction used in “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God” to put the audience in a fearful position, pressuring them to emotionally convert themselves. The sermon uses words like everlasting damnation, making the audience feel like they will end up in a bad place if they do not comply. Along that, according to the sermon, God was suggested to view natural men, or people who haven’t convert to Puritanism, as “abominable in his eyes”(91). It implies that without salvation through converting into Edwards’s religion, the members of his congregation will end up in hell or a dreadful pit in his words. The texts in the sermon are harsh and uses words with negative tones. The audience, specifically the congregation, would be fearful and desperate to ensure their fate does not ends up as Edwards describes. All the words used suggests that Johnathan Edwards’s sermon uses negative dictions as a method to convince that God is angry at natural men.
In addition, he also uses imageries with negative meanings to prove his point along side the dictions. He describes sinners to be hanging by a thread above hell, a gaping mouth. Natural men are seen at the same level as sinners, who are compared to insects like insects and venomous snakes. They are also compared to a rock, that once they are on their way falling to hell, all attempts of stopping it would be just like spider webs, the rock will break through it. Hell is describes to be a gaping mouth, implying that it is a beast, lying in waiting for sinner to fall through and devour them. Such imagery along with the inability to stop their own falling and being nothing more than insects would make the audience petrified, scared for their own sake. The negative imagery are uses to compare people who goes against God’s will as insects and that they should be prepare to be punish, no matter how good their life is going.
Finally, Edward promises if one chooses to listen to his warnings, they will not only be spare but also blessed according to his positive imagery and diction. Those who converts are happier, so much that they rejoice and sings for their joy of heart. Their sins will be forgiven since Christ will call and cry for them, opening the door of mercy for them. When they convert, they will be providing with extraordinary opportunities. Just as the negative dictions and imagery scares the listeners, the positive ones present itself as the only salvation they could have. Desperate to escape their fate that had been warned previously, the congregation would eagerly attempt to undergo a conversion to Puritanism. Opposing his attitude when talking about non-believers, positive promises through imagery and dictions are made to those who are willing to accept the religion as their own.
Puritans are one of the religious groups in England opposing to the Church of England. Many of them stay behind to try and “purify” the Church. Those who left, however, do try and spread their religion when they come to the New World. Their effort grows even larger during the religious revival, the First Great Awakening. One of the greatest effort was performed by Johnathan Edwards who uses negative dictions and imagery to scares his congregation and positive ones to encourages them into converting to Puritanism using his sermon. In conclusion, the sermon “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God” written by Johnathan Edwards attempts to convert his congregation to emotionally convert to his religion using negative and positive dictions and imagery.