Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards

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In "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards, what are  specific similes and metaphors used in the sermon to persuade?

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In “Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God,” Jonathan Edwards uses several similes and metaphors to persuade his audience. For example, he uses a simile to compare God's wrath to a terrible flood (“The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present...”). Edwards also uses a metaphor to express how even powerful rulers are nothing but feeble worms in comparison with God (“...the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty and strength...are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven…”).

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Jonathan Edwards uses the emotional appeal of fear to persuade his audience that they should turn to God. A first way he does this is through the image of hell. He does this in a metaphor that suggests hell is a burning pit of fire that God holds his people over and is ready to drop them at any moment:

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell.

You can see this is also a metaphor of hell to mean a furnace... it must be hot.

A good simile is in this next quote:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked.

Both of these quotes paint a picture of God that is mean as if He wants to doom people to hell. If I were in that audience at that time and heard Edwards utter this fire and brimstone sermon, I think I would have been fearfully persuaded too.



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In this harsh piece of literature, there are three infamous figures of speech that Edwards employs and develops to impress the severity of the judgement of God on his listeners. He firstly compares the wrath of God to damned waters, with God holding back "the fiery floods". He then compares the wrath of God to a bent bow, whose tension is increasing as justice prepares to loose the arrow of God's vengeance upon those "out of Christ". Sinners are compared to "loathsome" spiders held over the fire and threatened with being dropped into the flames. Consider how one of these is presented:

The wrath...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 635 words.)

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