There are three famous figures of speech Edwards develops in the fourth through seventh paragraphs of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." What are two things being compared in each one?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Calvinist minister Jonathan Edwards's "fire and brimstone" sermon sent many of his congregation running from the church in terror as they imagined the heat of hell's torments along with Edwards's threats of an angered God who knew their sins and designed punishments that the minister graphically described reached a crescendo of tormenting images. In addition, his repetition of the word  no refuge and nothing also generated great fear. 

In his sermon, Edwards compares hell to a pit and a furnace using such figures of speech as "the torments of hell," "the flames of hell," and "hell fire." Further, he speaks of the devil as "the old serpent" who "is gaping" for the sinners. "Hell opens its mouth to receive them," Edwards says, using personification.

Further, he repeatedly employs expressed metaphors that compare sinners to spiders and serpents:

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider...abhors are ten thousand times more abominable in His eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent....

In an extended metaphor, Edwards speaks of "The bow of God's wrath" whose arrow is ready and pointed and bent and "strains the bow" as the sinners continue in their wretched ways. The bow is God's anger at sin, the arrow is the punishment.

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

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question