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Views Of Transcendentalism Versus Puritanism; Looking At "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God" By Johnathan Edwards And "Nature" By Ralph Waldo Emerson.

1034 words - 4 pages

The Puritans see God as mysteriously involved in the acts of the universe, whereas the transcendentalists think God is connected to mankind through nature and intuition. The outlook on Puritan writing is that their style tends to be plain and introspective. Transcendentalist writing shows how nature and feelings are triumphant over logic and rationality. In contrast to the plain style of Puritan writing, Jonathan Edwards frequently strikes his audience with powerful words in his literature. He exemplifies this style in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" but still shows the lowliness of human beings in relation to God's power, another Puritan trait. In transcendentalist writing, the spiritual and ideal worlds are revealed through the physical facts of the natural world. A writer who uses transcendental techniques is Ralph Waldo Emerson. The work written by Emerson reflecting Transcendentalism is called "Nature." The name itself portrays the piece as transcendental, but Emerson uses the forest and its components as symbols of the spiritual world. In comparison, both the Puritans and the Transcendentalists focus on their own perceptions of the world and human existence.Edwards' sermon called "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" reiterates the fact that God has more power than man. Wickedness and sin, as Edwards describes, leads man closer and closer into the depths of hell. Mankind is weak and helpless if God is provoked. "There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up," (Jonathan Edwards). Edwards uses the phrase "Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up" to evidently make his point. His intention is to say that God and his powers should not be taken lightly. No matter how strong the will of man, God has the final say in it all. There is, however, a twist to his intention. Edwards directs the wrath of God mainly upon those who sin and that "He [God] is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it," (Jonathan Edwards). By using the word "wicked," Edwards hints at how man acts in order to provoke God. Sin leads towards mankind's wickedness, therefore angering God. His wrath may come in different ways. Instead of throwing the inhabitants of Earth directly into the fiery depths of hell, He will let mankind destroy itself and withhold His retribution."The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher...the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the meantime is constantly increasing, and you are everyday treasuring up more wrath," (Jonathan Edwards).Obviously, Edwards uses the water held behind a dam as a symbol. The dam represents God's "hand," and the water is His wrath. Comparing this, Edwards tries to explain that the longer the water is held back, the more force it will have when the dam will no longer support it; the...

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