The Language of Jonathan Edwards

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Jonathan Edwards' style of sermon stands apart from those of his contemporaries, being more subdued and yet somehow just as terribly awe-inspiring; Edwards relied more on his words to make an impact on his parishioners, not on an exaggerated delivery. It is this reliance on words that created Edwards' great difficulty; the limitations of English--or any Earthly language, for that matter--to properly describe the fantastic and glorious nature of God. Taking this doubt in stride, Edwards continued to preach. Specifically, within his "Personal Narrative", "A Divine and Supernatural Light", and "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", Edwards gives his prose over in a complete attempt to do what he already claims is impossible; accurate and proper portrayal of the power of God. Edwards' success shows not only his absolute devotion to his Christian belief but also that his words do somehow give proper credence in spite of their Earthly shackles. Edwards' saw himself in a very precarious situation since his prose is both incapable of divine description and yet the only possible way he can convey his sermons. Edwards' openly admits in his inner contemplations that the soul cannot be described in words, that it "is no impression upon the mind, as though one saw anything with bodily eyes. It is no imagination or idea of an outward light or glory, or any beauty of form or countenance, or a visible luster or brightness of any object". Through the use of oxymoron Edwards claims that since man cannot rationalize the way to God, he must turn to his senses to connect with pure adoration. Because love is blind, and there is no taste, no touch, no sound of God that man can recognize, stretching hopelessly with an amalgamation of these senses would only bolster man's wonder in his creator. Edwards uses this indefinable nature of God's wonder and further widens the gap

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