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When a person brings a gift to a party or holiday gathering, they often do so out of fear of people viewing them as impolite if they forget. This societal norm creates the impression that the receivers deserve the gift. However, objects of value that are deserved are called wages, not gifts; gifts are products that are undeserved and unearned. Though the motif of a gift is uncommon in literature and is not as common as motifs of nature or childhood, it is important to understand the components of a Gift. Involved in an exchange are a Giver and a Receiver. The Giver works for the Gift but chooses to bestow it to a Receiver, who has not earned it and does not deserve it. The final component is the Gift, a product that is perfect and pleasing to both the Giver and Receiver. Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan revivalist preacher of the eighteenth century utilizes this motif in his sermon, “A History of the Work of Redemption.” Employing this motif sets him apart from his contemporaries who preach in a “turn-or-burn” fashion, making him the most effective and key preacher of the Great Awakening; his sermon utilizes the motif of the Gift to encourage, to convict his audience of their sin, and to urge them to respond. Edwards’ sermon effectively employs the motif of the Gift to convey the Gospel. He explains the aspects of the Giver, the Receiver, and the Gift and ends with his signature application that persuades his audience to accept this Gift.


This paper was presented in partial fulfillment of American Literature I (ENGL 3103) taught by Professor Jennifer Pittman.