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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way in which Edwards can be seen as issuing a challenge to the individual that they can place on themselves is in seeking to move closer to God.  Edwards does not make any distinctions.  He makes it fairly clear that all human beings are in some level of guilt in terms of how they have turned from the divine.  Edwards lumps all human beings into a realm where each individual has to make a clear spiritual choice to stop what has happened and embrace a new vision of what should be happening in their lives:  

All wicked men's pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. 

This is where Edwards issues a challenge to one's self.  Edwards sees a large portion of society as using the power of rationalization and justification of a life that lacks faith and spiritual connection to the divine.  This condition of damnation is where Edwards challenges individuals to break through what is and envision what can be.  When Edwards demands that individuals "escape to the mountain," it is a challenge for individuals to aspire to a new spiritual height.  Edwards' challenge at the end of the speech is for individuals to break out of the conformist setting that has turned from God and return back to a condition in which individuals recognize the power of the divine.  For Edwards, this is a challenge because it compels individuals to embrace what can be as opposed to simply what is.  This becomes where the challenge is, a real in which individuals strive to be more than they display themselves to be.

Read the study guide:
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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