Jonathan Edwards / Thomas Paine
Throughout this term, I will give you writing assignment choices to lighten your load a bit. You may choose to answer the questions from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” or you may choose to answer the questions from Common Sense . Again, choose ONE set of questions to answer.
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”
1. Notice that Edwards lived and preached at the beginning of the Enlightenment. Consider this statement: “But the foolish children of men do miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in their confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow.” Summarize his main points in the first five pages of this sermon. What is his basic message to those who place trust in themselves? (Remember that summary is comprehensive, but brief. Try to condense what Edwards has said into four or five solid sentences.)
2. Pages 197- 199 contain several famous figures of speech (simile, metaphor, etc.) that all relate to the wrath of God. Identify and explain at least three of these figures of speech. (If you are using the online link to the sermon, these can be found under “Application.”) 3. List the four points Edward’s makes about God’s wrath on pages 199-202. Notice the word choice in those pages: “horrible,” “merciless vengeance,” “great wrath,” “infinite misery,” “lamentable and bitter cry,” “torment,” “lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks,” etc. Edwards is painting a very vivid picture for this congregation. 4. What is the “extraordinary opportunity” (p. 203) available to Edward’s listeners? How can they escape the wrath that he has described so well?
5. Explain the allusion to Sodom at the end of the selection. Who looked behind her as she fled from Sodom? What happened to her? What point is Edwards trying to make with this allusion?
In the second paragraph of the selection, Paine first notes that much has been written and said about the controversy – the struggle between England and America. He then writes, “. . . and the period of debate is closed.” Keep this in mind. Paine is writing from the belief that reconciliation with England is NOT possible. He wants to offer “simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense” as to why America must fight for its freedom and separate completely from Britain.
1. The fourth paragraph on part III begins, “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.” Paine goes on to stress the importance of this cause to all posterity. He writes, “. . . posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected even to the end of time by the proceedings now.” He ends that paragraph with a simile that strengthens this point. Identify and explain this simile.
2. On pages 341-342, Paine answers arguments that some have set forth for reconciliation with England. I have listed the arguments below; write Paine’s answer for each argument. It is best to paraphrase his answers rather than to quote directly. Working to express ideas in your own words will help you understand his points more completely.
a. America has flourished under her former connection with Great Britain, and
the same connection is necessary from America’s future happiness.
b. She (Britain) has protected us.
c. Britain is our parent country.
d. United, Britain and America would possess great strength. In conjunction they might bid defiance to the world.
Paine goes on to point out that there is no advantage to America for reconciliation, but that “the injuries and disadvantages which we sustain by that connection are without number.” He mentions relationships with Europe and trade as things that would be damaged through continued connection with England.
3. Paine writes, “’TIS TIME TO PART” (p. 343). What are the reasons he outlines in this paragraph?
4. According to the paragraphs beginning in the top of 344, what kind of men would be for reconciliation and against the fight for freedom? What are the two things that America could conquer herself with?
5. Explain the analogy on the bottom of page 345: “Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence?” Be sure to note how this reference ties in with the point Paine is trying to make.