Jonathan Edwards the Great Preacher Essay

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He was a man whose very words struck fear into the hearts of his listeners. Acknowledged as one of the most powerful religious speakers of the era, he spearheaded the Great Awakening. “This was a time when the intense fervor of the first Puritans had subsided somewhat” (Heyrmen 1) due to a resurgence of religious zeal (Stein 1) in colonists through faith rather than predestination. Jonathan Edwards however sought to arouse the religious intensity of the colonists (Edwards 1) through his preaching. But how and why was Edwards so successful? What influenced him? How did he use diction and symbolism to persuade his listener, and what was the reaction to his teachings? In order to understand these questions one must look at his life and works…show more content…
Edwards was influenced by “Locke’s ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’”(1717) which said that for an individual to truly experience the word of god he must “possess empirical knowledge, that is experience it firsthand, which contrasted with Calvinism’s idea of predestination” (1). Locke’s essay had a great impact on Edwards because it made him realize that when he gives sermons, his listeners should experience firsthand the message of God by making his audience more in tune with their spiritual selves. At Yale he was also interested in the workings of the human mind (1). His foray into the human mind would help him in life to manipulate others to listen to his message. Overall his childhood and early years would help Edwards persuade others to listen to his message. He does this well with his brilliant use of persuasive language to manipulate the emotions and thoughts of others. Edward’s is able to persuade his listeners to follow his doctrine by manipulating their emotions and thoughts while they listen to his sermon. In his speeches “Edwards evoked vivid, terrifying images of the utter corruption of human nature” (Heyrmen 1) which terrified his listeners and made them receptive to the message he was preaching. One particular development can be found in a letter from 1743 that Edwards himself wrote to Thomas Prince a Boston preacher. The letter describes Edwards’s attempts at preaching to groups of young listener’s. Two young men were so overcome with his
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