Edwards uses logos, ethos, and pathos are used in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” through different ways to pack a bigger punch into his argument. Logos is the logistical side of his argument, speaking of the minister’s logic being; if you are a sinner who has not been reborn, you are going to hell. Ethos is a little harder to find in this text. It uses his position as a minister to provide more credibility by his testimony and allusion to the Bible to back up his arguments. The most persuasive example of pathos is that he makes everyone extremely fearful of God sending them to hell, while also allowing them an offer of hope by saying that they don’t have to go to hell if they are reborn. The main argument that is strongest is the claim that God is angry if you are a sinner and that he will send you to hell. Without all three of these methods mixed together, his argument would not be nearly as strong and persuasive.
Speaking in terms of logos, one example from the text is when Edwards says “They shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. 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. (Norton 391)” This passage from the fourth point in his writing shows logically that if you are a sinner, God will not hold you up any longer once you die. He will logically allow you to slip through into hell. This provides a logical argument to back up his original claim.
Speaking in terms of ethos in “Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God,” he uses first person and Biblical passages to show his expertise in this area. By doing this, the reader believes that what he is saying is worth listening to. He does this in the first and second point as he references Psalm. He also shows his expertise by being knowledgeable of pastoral works. “Jonathan Edwards continues to loom large over the evangelical world. In celebration of the tercentenary of Edwards’s birth, the thirteen essays in The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards examine the vision, theology, and influence of this theological giant within the context of contemporary American Protestantism. (Hart).” This shows how he is credible to speak of his main claim.
Finally, in terms of pathos, there is a lot in his writings. The touchy topic of ‘burning in hell’ can be pushed onto people easily using their emotions. He does this many times by speaking of two thing: people sinning and God being angry at sin. By preying on peoples emotions through the point out of their sins, Edwards is able to make them feel like they need to be reborn so they are saved from those sins. If not, by these means, Edwards convinces them by saying that if they are not reborn and sinners, they will burn in hell. This attacks the sinners’ fear emotion and causes them to pay more attention to what Edwards is saying. This causes Edwards original claim to have a more impactful meaning.
Overall, Edwards uses of logos, ethos, and pathos provide a very compelling argument in “Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God.” He uses these three rhetoric devices to make his claim, that is that if you are a sinner and not reborn then you will burn in hell, more convincing throughout his writing. By using all three of these devices, Edwards is able to make his argument much more compelling than if he were to have only used one or two of these devices.
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