What type of emotional appeals does Edwards use to breakthrough to his congregation in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"?

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stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The entire sermon is structured to appeal to the emotions of the listeners through vivid descriptions of the horrendous fate awaiting sinful human beings, which Edwards explains includes everyone in the congregation.

The "Application" section is most directly pointed at those listening to the sermon. In this part of his presentation, Edwards addresses the immediate and dire consequences awaiting those who do not repent. He pictures the revulsion that creation experiences because each member of the congregation lives in the midst of what God has made.

the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts;...the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies.

As well as explaining how disgusting humanity is in the eyes of nature, Edwards also portrays the sensations awaiting sinful persons when they are called to suffer the wrath of "an Angry God." With emphasis through repetition and graphic description, he attempts to convey the torment that is in store.

There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all.

Edwards concludes his sermon, after all the terror and anguish and punishment in the bulk of it, by appealing to members of the congregation to "fly from the wrath to come" - a closing invitation urging listeners to flee from the hellfire and brimstone of the preceeding remarks.

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

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