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Puritan Rhetoric

The Issue of Emotion in Religion

Eugene E. White

Publication Year: 2009

The nature of Puritanism in America and the role of emotion in religion is the subject of this collection of religious orations, discussed and appraised for students of Puri­tanism and rhetoric.  The orations are arranged to represent the force and counterforce of reason versus emotionalism and the precarious balance maintained momentarily and, eventually, lost.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

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Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

There have been occasions during the past ten years when my equilibrium and sleep have been disturbed by the capering of a chorus straight from Gilbert and Sullivan: "An editor's life is not a happy one." Bleak thoughts have been engendered. Consider: one offends old friends by rejecting new proposals, distresses the director of his press by seeming ignorance of the economic realities of publishing, and infuriates the community of 'academic critics...

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pp. xi-xiv

In preparing this volume I have wished to interest a broader spectrum of readers than those concerned with Puritans or with rhetoric-even than those who seek keys in the past to unlock the inner secrets of the present. What is discussed in these pages is so identifiable with the present confrontations between reason and emotion that-with suitable interpolations -one may read here a living dialogue between...

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Part One: The Developing Exigence

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pp. 3-6

Until recently, the popular view has considered the founding Puritan to be a singularly unattractive ancestral relic, better forgotten than remembered. Especially in the last two or three decades, however, much careful research has gradually removed enough of the encrusted fictions and distortions to expose a more realistic-and somewhat more likeable-image of the Puritan. Instead of the utterly drab...

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The Inheritance: Compartmentalization of the Mind and the Precarious Balanoe Between Intellect and Emotions

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pp. 6-23

Theology of the Covenants. In their efforts to return Christianity to the unsullied natme of the teachings of Paul and the Gospels, both Martin Luther and John Calvin had found inspiration in the works of St. Augustine.2 The greatest of the early Fathers, St. Augustine believed that depraved man was completely dependent upon God for salvation...

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Transition and Culmination: Unifioation of Man and the Pe1'Vasion of the Emotions

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pp. 23-48

As a consequent of their recurrent emphasis upon the conditional promise of the covenant of grace, most English Puritan ministers tended to preach an optimistic religion. At times, in their stressing the rationality of true religion and the necessity for an intellectual acceptance of Christian doctrine, they seemed almost to teach that man could reason himself to salvation...

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The Great Awakening

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pp. 48-64

The Protasis of the Great Awakening. For thirty-four years (1736-70), the Anglican evangelist George Whitefield sought converts in England, Scotland, Wales, Gibraltar, Bermuda, and in Colonial America, which he visited seven times,81 The out-of doors was often his chapel; and a mound, tree stump, hogshead, or horse's back served frequently as his pulpit. In the course of his itinerant wanderings, by his own estimate he delivered about eighteen thousand sermons to more than ten million...

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Part Two: Readings

In this section you will nnd nve speeches of central significance to the issue of emotion in religion, each of which is accompanied by a headnote introduction and by a set of running interrogative notes. One of our speeches is a revival sermon by Jonathan Edwards, and the others are paired appositions...

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1. The Future Punishment of the Wicked Unavoidable and Intolerable

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pp. 67-80

Edwards considered this to he his most powerful horrific sermon. Delivered in April 1741, during the height of the revival, it is in some ways a more artistic effort than the perversely famed (see Part One) "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," given tlu'ee months later at Enfield...

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2. Distinguishing Marks

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pp. 81-102

Some five montIls after his "Future Punishment," Edwards preached the "Distinguishing Marks"during the Yale commencement observances. Although some "extravagances" were already beginning to sully the pure expressions of piety, the address was an aggressive, confident assault upon the yet silent and intimidated enemies of the revival...

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3. Enthusiasm Described and Caution'd Against

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pp. 103-118

founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers, Chauncy was Edwards's peer as a scholar, albeit Ilis inferior as an original or profound thinker. In many ways he was a paradox: he was disinterested in religious miracles, but during the Revolutionary War he was convinced that, if they were needed, God would send battalions of angels to help the Colonists fight the British; he proclaimed the dominion of reason in religion, but in political matters...

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4. Concerning the Nature of the Affections, and Their Importance in Religion

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pp. 119-157

During the winter of 1742-43, in response to the widespread opposition which had developed to the excesses of the revival, Edwards delivered a series of sermons defending and explaining the role of emotion in religion. "Concerning the Nature of the Affections" is the first of the lectures in tIllS series. Missing from this speech are the impelling emotional appeals and the sulfurous fumes which were so overpowering in "Future Punishments" and which were present...

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5. Natural Religion

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pp. 158-171

Disliking the inscrutability and the unpredictability of Calvin's God. Ebenezer Gay sought to find order and harmony in the universe. From the earliest days of his ministry. he emphasized the rational, multi

Part Three: Inquiry

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Strategies of Argument

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pp. 175-190

As our method of attack, let us consider the strategies of argument according to four criteria: consistency, clarity, persuasiveness, and modernity. Concerning the consistency and clarity of argument, both Chauncy and Gay should be given satisfactory marks. In his "Enthusiasm Described," Chauncy is basically lucid and congruous in his analysis...

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Strategies of Style and Composition

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pp. 191-193

A requirement of the Puritan sermon was orality. It had to sound personal and immediately direct. It had to provide for instant comprehension. Nothing should be permitted to come between the listener and his contact with the word of God-not the learning of the preacher, not the abstruseness of his style and composition, not the intrusion of his personality, not the adornments of the church or the distractions of the liturgy...

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Strategies of Disposition

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pp. 193-194

Do our speakers tend to divide their speeches according to the traditional Puritan sermon format discussed in Part One: Text, Doctrine, Reasons, Application? In conformity to tradition set by the founders, do they design the Text-Doctrine-Reasons segments essentially to supply information and logical analysis for the purpose of enabling the faenlty of the Understanding to render a rational judgment?...

Notes to Part One

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pp. 197-212


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pp. 213-215

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809386796
E-ISBN-10: 0809386798
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809329397
Print-ISBN-10: 0809329395

Page Count: 230
Publication Year: 2009