How does Edwards use repetition at the end to heighten the effect of his sermon?

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the discipline of rhetoric, repetition and restatement are staples, and Jonathan Edwards makes great use of both in this iconic sermon from 1741. Accomplished orators and students of rhetoric understand that the first and last things a speaker says are usually what stay with an audience; this phenomenon is known to educators as "primacy" and "recency."

Edwards's thesis was, of course, that sinners who did not act quickly to reform themselves faced an agonizing afterlife in the fires of hell, where God's wrath would hurl them for their impiousness. 

In the last paragraph of the sermon, Edwards use the word "fly" twice to describe what sinners must do: escape God's wrath and (metaphorically) leave Sodom.  He uses the words "every one" twice to emphasize that no one in the congregation should feel complacent about their salvation.  And lastly, Edwards uses the word "wrath" twice to hammer his point home: God is angry with all sinners.

 

 

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

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