Catherine Sedgwick’s A New England Tale is the story of Jane a young woman who is cast into a family where she is looked down upon, but through her trial and tribulations remains strong in her faith in God. Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God focuses on those who lose faith and overlook the power of God’s hand, and by doing so will be sent to hell to repent their sins. Throughout the novel by Sedgwick and the sermon by Edwards it is the importance of moving forwards in life while staying faithful and true to God without sin remains the focus of the pieces.
Edwards’ focus is on those in his congregation that have and are sinning. Those that are damned to hell, but believe that they live a life that will let them fool God and get them into hell. Edwards believes that only a worshiper will be able to get into the good graces of God by remaining a religious person. He state
“How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict sober and religious they may otherwise be.” (435)
Edwards believes that in order for his followers to be saved they must not only believe but also live a life dedicated to the word of God and to repent all that they have done to move forward and remain in God’s good graces. In Sedgwick’s Novel we listen to the advice Marry gives to Jane when she state
“But my child do not be down-hearted there has One ‘taken you up who will not leave you, nor forsake you.’ The fires may be about you but they will not kindle on you.’ Make the bible your counsellor; you will always find some good word there, that will be a bright light to you in the darkest night: and do not forget the daily sacrifice of prayer; for, as the priest under the old covenant were nourished by a part of what they offered, so, when the sacrifice of praise is sent upward by the broken and contrite heart, there is a strength cometh back upon our own souls: blessed be his name, it is what the world cannot give.”(Sedgwick 19)
In the case of Mary and Jane, Mary is telling to turn to god, repent what she has done and pray for what is to come and God will be good to her and fill her will strength and potency. In both cases to gain this strength or power that comes from God one must look to him and share with him your sins and fears. By doing this God will guide you to the next step and save you from the evils of the world around.
The idea of Sins and sinning is also a concept that comes up in both the novel and the sermon. Sedgwick introduces a dancer to the town of -------- . When this happens the town erupts and “[s]ome clergy denounced the impending sin from their pulpits. One said that he searched the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and could not find a text that expressively treated of that enormity, but that was manifestly because it was a sin to heinous...