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God In The “Devil’s Territories:” Mather’s Use Of Rhetoric In Wonders Of The Invisible World

1559 words - 7 pages

Mather, a preacher, theologian, and historian, exercised great authority in early New England, and still retains some of that authority today, for his clear depiction of the area’s history. Authority is a large part of Mather’s argument in Wonders of the Invisible World, used in his logos, his logical arguments, and his extrinsic ethos and intrinsic ethos, and he often uses religion as proof of his authority, with references to America as the ‘Devil’s territories’ and the Puritans as God’s chosen, and all three rhetoric principles are used and interconnected.
Cotton Mather uses both extrinsic (his expertise, education, and authority in the subject) and intrinsic (how he writes) ethos to reinforce his authority on the subject on which he is speaking, combining these expressions of authority and power with logos and pathos that we as future readers may not find persuasive but would have been to people in his time. His overall use of ethos, pathos, and logos is more focused on ethos and logos, with bits of pathos in forms that correspond to the religious approach taken by the majority of people in the colonies. He makes his point often with logos, using mostly the forms of ‘claim or consequence’ and ‘Testimony and authority.’. He also uses religion as proof of his authority, and the authority of the Puritans in New England in general, as seen in the first part of Wonders of the Invisible World, “A People of God in the Devil’s Territories.” He says “the New Englanders are a people of God settled in those, which were once the devil’s territories…the devil was exceedingly disturbed, when he perceived such a people here accomplishing the promise of old.”. He proceeds to speak of the methods used, he says, by the devil to drive away the Puritans from America. This is an example of ‘Testimony and authority’ logos, or the form of logos when a claim involves citing the opinion of someone other than the rhetor (the person trying to convince the audience, in this case Mather). In this case, Mather is citing God and Jesus and other inherently ‘good’ religious figures against the devil, the main ‘bad’ religious figure, an example being this quote: “…there never were more satanical devices used for the unsettling of any people under the sun… many an Ebenezer has been erected unto the praise of God, by his poor people here; and having obtained help from God, we continue to this day.”
Mather also uses analogy in his logos, claiming that the devil’s outrage “was not a greater uproar among the Ephesians, when the Gospel was first brought among them.” He is comparing the Puritans’ situation with the Bible in such a way that he is implying that the devil’s anger at the Puritans was of Biblical proportions. In this implication Mather also implies that the Puritans were of the same stock as the religious figures in the Bible. But what is odd about the way he is arguing his point is that he does not appear to be arguing; he appears to be merely...

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