Jonathan Edwards

Start Free Trial

How does Jonathan Edwards's Personal Narrative model and exert authority over his audience?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jonathan Edwards provides a role model for his audience in his Personal Narrative by offering analogies between his own path toward faith and similar difficulties the readers might encounter.

Edwards sometimes plays a paternal role as he recounts his interactions with his father, suggesting the value of an elder’s guidance in delving into the complexities of religious teachings. Although Edwards is rarely sentimental, some aspects of his narrative could be reassuring to his audience. Rather than suggest that he is some kind of a paragon to be emulated, he admits to having lapses in faith at various points in his life. Getting past those doubts—and even sins that he committed—is presented as an integral part of learning to appreciate God’s omnipotence.

Edwards suggests a parallel between physical illness and spiritual misgivings, thus helping the reader realize how they might find their own strengths, especially when they welcome Christ as he did. Perhaps most importantly, Edwards does not speak from egotism, but always reminds his audience that he, like other humans, is a vehicle for divine sovereignty. Although he firmly puts forward his conclusion that God decides man’s fate, he also confirms, through his own examples, the importance of trying to live a moral life.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial