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Distinctions Between Authors Jonathan Edwards and Edward Taylor

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Distinctions between authors Jonathan Edwards and Edward Taylor

Many people claim that the only way something good can become great is with practice and repetition. American literature has become great by learning from previous writers such as Edward Taylor and Jonathan Edwards. Taylor, raised as a Puritan, was born in Leicestershire, England, in 1642. He immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1688 and later studied divinity at Harvard University, which led him to become minister of Westfield, Massachusetts. Surprisingly, Taylor's work was not very well known until the 1960s because he requested that his family and successors keep his writings private. When the writings appeared, Taylor's biographer, Norman S. Grabo, described Taylor as "...not only America's finest colonial poet, but as one of the most striking writers in the whole range of American literature" (Stout). On the other hand, Edwards was a great composer who wrote thousands of pages of sermons, ideas, and thoughts during his lifetime. Born in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1703, Edwards was also raised a Puritan, entered Yale University at the age of thirteen where he studied Latin, Greek, Hebrew, geometry, rhetoric, logic, and theology, and was a teacher and a minister (Schlesinger 7). In fact, not only was Edwards a minister, but he was also one of the men who led the Great Awakening; a series of religious revivals during the 1730s in British North America. Confidently, Edwards often made intriguing scientific observations as a young boy, leading many to believe that he would one day become a scientist. However, he chose to pursue ministry instead (Schlesinger 8). Edwards and Taylor are both religious Puritan writers and profess the same message--to love God and enter heaven. However, they exemplify their message through significantly distinct styles of writing.

Taylor and Edwards demonstrate two completely different methods of imagery. Taylor uses homely and vivid imagery derived from everyday Puritan surroundings. For example, in "Upon A Spider Catching A Fly," Taylor uses a fly to represent a sinner, a spider to represent Satan, and a wasp to represent a person who is saved and has the strength to escape Satan's web (Upon A Spider Catching A Fly). He writes:

"I saw a pettish wasp

Fall foule therein:

Whom yet thy Whorle pins did not clasp

Lest he should fling

His sting."

Here, the use of imagery is clear and simple to grasp. In his poem "The Joy of Church Fellowship Rightly Attended," Taylor describes feelings of joyful acceptance through the singing of passengers riding in a carriage on their way to heaven. This is another example of Taylor's use of soft and serene imagery. On the other hand, in Jonathan Edwards work entitled "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Edwards uses harsh symbols such as the "pit of hell." Also written by Edwards is his sermon "The Vain Self Flatteries of a Sinner." Edwards' position in this sermon is that "Wicked men generally flatter themselves with hopes of escaping punishment, till it actually comes upon them" ("A Faithful Narrative"). In comparison, Edwards' literature requires more thought since Taylor's work seems simpler to grasp. Imagery is used in many ways, and here both authors utilize diametric methods to convey their message.

Through their writings, both Taylor and Edwards hope to lead their congregations to salvation. In his works, Taylor uses love, joy, praise and worship, while Edwards uses fear, revenge, hatred, dark imagery, and scorn. They are both witnessed by their audience utilizing these different methods. Because Taylor never intended on having his works published, he does not have a "signature" style to lead congregations to salvation. On the other hand, Edwards has a personalized style of writing that has continuously kept readers intrigued. Vividly, Edwards used gestures and paced across the platform as he preached. To the audience, this was a technique never seen before. Since this was a brand new style evolving, with it came a brand new response. Audience members screamed, cried, and fainted because they were excited to learn about what the Lord had in store for them (Wood). Edwards retains his listeners and until this day keeps readers engulfed in his sermons by using powerful words and scaring them until the last lines or phrase, where he promises hope of heaven. For example, in his work "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Edwards uses

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