The Sinner in the hands of an Angry God is a famous sermon that is written by British Colonial Christian theologian Jonathan Edwards. It is preached to his own congregation in the Northampton in Massacusetts. It combines a vivid imagery of the Hell along with the observations of the world. It also has the citations of the scripture. It has been considered as one of the most famous written work of Edwards and also a fitting representation of the style in which he preached. It is studied by Christians and the historians as it provides a glimpse into the First Great Awakening theology. It is a typical sermon of the Great Awakening and at the same time emphasizes on teaching that Hell is a real place and it really exists. Edwards has hoped that the language and imagery of this sermon which would awaken the audiences to the crude reality of hell which awaits them. They should continue this living without the calling on Christ’s being saved. The hidden thought is that God keeps the wicked men out of the depths of Hell. This is an act of restraint which has given the humans a chance to believe and trust in Christ.
This is a verse that threatens the vengeance of God on the unbelieving Israelites who were the visible people to God. They lived under the grace of God but those who did not understand the wonderful works of God remained void of the entire counsel without any understanding of them. All the cultivations of heaven brought forth the poisonous fruit along with the two verses preceding the text. The way man is always exposed to destruction and it is one that stands or walks in the slippery places where they can fall. This has been implied in the manner of destruction upon them and becomes represented by the sliding of their foot. It has been expressed “ Surely thou set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction”. It further implies that those are always exposed to destruction and at the same time, man is liable to fall of themselves. He stands or walks on the slippery ground where his own weight to throw it down.
Jonathan Edwards has delivered his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in July, 1741. In this sermon, the appeal of Edwards is to the sinners of the world who warned them that God is strict in his judgement and judges all the actions. It lastly gives them the information that the punishment of God might be harsher beyond the imagination. The sermons are delivered in three parts. Firstly, he quotes and analyzes a specific passage from the Bible: “ Their foot shall slide in due time” . He also uses this particular image as a proper metaphor for those people who are risking all their likings having walked down on the slippery slope of sin. In the second part of the sermon, ten inherent points are made about God, religion and sin. He further argues that human lives and dies through God’s mercy. At the very end, God decides whether a man goes to Hell or Heaven.
The longest part of the sermon suggests that Edwards addresses the sinners in the congregation and beyond that too. The fires of hell is described, the pits of fame are metaphorically spoken about and until they changed their way , they are all “ Sinners in the hands of an angry God”. The sermon can be considered as a “ hellfire and brimstone” teaching style which is a style that is popular during the First Great Awakening in the American Colonies from the year 1730 to 1755. This is a sermon that is the representation of the style of Jonathan Edwards and the sermon has been used few times with different types of audiences. In the year 1741, the members of Conecticut, Enfield rejected the ideas with “What shall I do to be saved?” The sermon resulted in various people who felt powerful conviction, having repented for all of their ways and came with the faith in Christ.
The particular point of the sermon is that “ It is only the mercy of God that keeps people from falling into hell and God is free to withdraw that mercy at any moment”. The hellfire and the brimstone style of preaching is quite controversial and seen as a method to scare people into the faith. The goal of Edwards was to show properly why God was giving people a strong chance to admit all their sins and return to Christ. The focus was ultimately on God’s mercy. He also made use of various imagery and descriptive languages for awakening the audience in considering the reality of the eternal destiny. It was believed that God is all powerful. At the end of the sermon, people were desperate about the good news of salvation through Edwards and Christ. They were faithful for sharing the grace of God that has appeared having brought salvation to all the people.
The priority of Edwards was the salvation of all people who worked toward becoming a missionary to all the tribes of Native America. Furthermore, he preached his old and the new sermons to the local Mohawk and Mohican tribes. The ministry of Jonathan Edwards converted Hedrick Aupaumut who became a war hero later and translated into Mohican. He also mentored Joseph Bellamy, Gideon Hawley and Samuel Hopkins developing the missionary movement in America. There are many of the missionaries such as Francis Asbury, Jim Elliot and David Livingstone. The Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God sermon started being taught in University of America Literature and the American History courses. It has an impact today in more than 250 years of the day it was first preached. Jonathan Edwards can be considered as an example to the Christians regarding what can be accomplished by God through someone who is so devoted in sharing salvation by Christ alone.
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