How did the American preacher Jonathan Edwards’s preaching style compare with the British preacher George Whitefield’s?
Both men preached in a style that appealed to the hearts and the emotions of their congregations. They used vivid imagery (Edwards famously compared the souls of men to spiders dangling from a thread over a pit of fire) and a pathos-laden delivery to drive home a more or less shared message: that people had turned their backs on God in the pursuit of worldly things. They also shared a critique of the Enlightenment-era rationalism that they saw as to some extent incompatible with Christian faith. Their theology was mostly similar--both preached that people were inherently sinful and that only God's mercy could save their unworthy souls. While both men preached in a fiery, emotional manner, Whitefield took it to new extremes, and was perhaps the first man in American history who could legitimately be called a celebrity. Unlike Edwards, who preached in traditional church settings, Whitefield preached wherever he could, delivering sermons from stages set up on town greens, in marketplaces and courthouses, and other public spaces in England and the colonies.
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