Imagery in ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’: Edwards’s Eloquent Fear

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Imagery in ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’: Edwards’s Eloquent Fear

This essay will analyze the use of imagery in Jonathan Edwards’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It will explore how Edwards uses vivid and fearful imagery to convey his message about sin, retribution, and the need for salvation. The piece will examine the sermon’s impact on listeners during the Great Awakening and its significance in American religious history. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Christianity.

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Vivid Imagery in Edwards’s Sermon: Painting the Terrifying Landscape of Damnation

Jonathan Edwards was a great American preacher and author who specialized in his ability to reel people in. Edwards published an outstanding sermon, “From Sinners in The Hands of an Angry God,” in the 18th century. However, he was then fired from being a preacher, and his audience did not like his sermon. Edwards used many literary devices in his sermon to draw people in, especially fear and Imagery.

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Edwards scared people into believing his view on Hell. His words were so comprehensive they drew a picture into the audience’s mind.

The Imagery he proposed was magnificent in his sermons. This actively demonstrates that he used such individualized words that any human would have a spitting image reading his sermon. According to Literary terms, Imagery is defined as “Imagery is the language used by poets, novelists, and other writers to create images in the mind of the reader. Imagery includes figurative and metaphorical language to improve the reader’s experience through their senses.” Edwards drew a perfect picture in the audience/reader’s minds. It made people believe his sermon more, made people curious, disgusted, scared, distraught, and so on. One example of Edwards’s Imagery mentioned in the sermon is, “God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.” Edwards used this as one of his many tactics to make people circumvent and avoid evil.

Evoking Awe and Dread: ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ Imagery Examples and Their Impact

In addition, another literary device Edwards used was fear. Edwards used fear throughout the entire sermon; he used fear along with Imagery, which built up horrific scenes in your mind. Edwards’s use of fear is extraordinary; he used precise words to describe the horror of Hell. As reported by Google Dictionary, fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.” Edwards did just that for the exact purpose of scaring the audience. He purposed that evil is dangerous threatening, and will cause a sickening amount of pain. Edwards aforementioned in the sermon, “They deserve to be cast into Hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God’s using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins.” Edwards’s use of fear and Imagery together created a picture that was unbelievably chilling and showed the audience to stay far away from evil.

To sum up, everything that has been stated so far, Edwards was an outstanding preacher and author. Edwards used many literary devices, including Imagery and fear. Edwards’s thorough use of words made these tactics stick out. Edwards used fear to scare the audience into believing in God and to scare them from ever turning on God or worshipping/becoming evil. Edwards used Imagery to build an image in the audience’s minds of that fear he created; he built such a creepy and scary picture to show them how it would look if they were ever to go near the evil. Edwards’ sermon was unreal; how well it was written and put the perfect images in your mind of exactly what he wanted you to picture.


  1. Edwards, J. (1741). Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: A Sermon Preached at Enfield.
  2. Marsden, G. M. (2003). Jonathan Edwards: A Life. Yale University Press.
  3. Stout, H. S. (1991). The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England. Oxford University Press.
  4. Winslow, O. (1960). Jonathan Edwards: Basic Writings. New American Library.
  5. Lee, S. M. (2016). The Princeton Companion to Jonathan Edwards. Princeton University Press.
  6. Lesser, M. X. (2005). Reading Jonathan Edwards: An Annotated Bibliography in Three Parts, 1729-2005. Eerdmans.
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Imagery in 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God': Edwards's Eloquent Fear. (2023, Aug 27). Retrieved from