In the sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Jonathan Edwards uses persuasive techniques to draw attention to his words. Edwards, born in East Windor, Connecticut, he start-ed writing at a very young age: As a matter of fact, his first published piece occurred at age ten! Years later he attended college at Yale. He then ended his academic career as the President of Princeton, which is in New Jersey. In between that time he was a minister and led missions with Indians. Jonathan Edwards gave his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in Enfield, Connecticut in 1741. Without the use of persuasive techniques he wouldn’t have kept the interest of his audience.
Even though it is said that Edwards didn’t have a change in voice throughout the six hour sermon he gave, it still caused the congregation to scream in fear. He did this by grabbing the attention of the audience by inserting fear into their minds. He used the church environment to make the people feel unsettled and guilty about their sin. Jonathan Edwards piques the interest of man by presenting very clearly that there are only two options, heaven and hell. For example, Jonathan said to “consider what is written in the book of John; He that believeth not is con-demned already. Every unconverted man belongs to hell.”
His other persuasive technique was triggering the needs of the listener. By this, he warned them of their ways that will send them to hell. He did this by playing to their emotions. Edwards is pointing out throughout his sermon that “How dreadful is the state of those who are daily and hourly in danger of this great wrath and infinite misery!” In many ways, it leaves the listener wondering with questions. For example, what is the purpose of my my existence and my destination?
Finally, he proposed a way for them all to avoid hell by changing their ways. Edwards presents the idea of freedom of choice, but makes it clear to his audience that every choice has a consequence. To God, the consequence will be that you will remain in an ‘unregenerate state, consider this: the fact that God will execute the fierceness of His anger, implies that He will in-flict wrath without any pity.’ The way to avoid hell is to turn your life over to God. If you don’t change your ways and surrender to God, ‘your guilt and hardness of heart are extremely great.’ In the end, believers will be able to live a prosperous life guilt free and end up going to heaven.
If these techniques were left out, the sermon wouldn’t be as powerful. Sometimes when you give a sermon, it isn’t about the impact in your tone but in the key points or techniques that you use. Without these, the people wouldn’t have fear or be scared of what Johnathan Edwards was saying.
In the sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Jonathan Edwards effectively used persuasive techniques to get his point across to his audience. He gave them fear of going to hell, but he also gave them ways of preventing hell, triggering them, and making them fearful. With-out these three persuasive techniques he wouldn’t have had an audience that responded to him in the ways that hey did.