"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
" is a sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...
written by American
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...
Christian theologian Jonathan Edwards, preached on July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut
Enfield is a town located in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 45,212 at the 2000 census. It sits on the border with Longmeadow, Massachusetts and East Longmeadow, Massachusetts to the north, Somers to the east, East Windsor and Ellington to the south, and the...
. Like Edwards' other sermons and writings, it combines vivid imagery of Hell with observations of the world and citations of scripture. It remains Edwards' most famous written work, and is widely studied by Christians and historians, providing a glimpse into the theology of the Great Awakening
The First Awakening was a Christian revitalization movement that swept Protestant Europe and British America, and especially the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s, leaving a permanent impact on American religion. It resulted from powerful preaching that gave listeners a sense of personal...
of c. 1730–1755.
"There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God."
Most of the sermon's text consists of ten "considerations":
- God may cast wicked men into hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...
at any given moment, whenever he feels like it
- The Wicked deserve to be cast into hell. Divine justice does not prevent God from destroying the Wicked at any moment.
- The Wicked, at this moment, suffer under God's condemnation to Hell.
- The Wicked, on earth - at this very moment - suffer the torments of Hell. The Wicked must not think, simply because they are not physically in Hell, that God (in Whose hand the Wicked now reside) is not - at this very moment - as angry with them as He is with those miserable creatures He is now tormenting in hell, and who - at this very moment - do feel and bear the fierceness of His wrath.
- At any moment God shall permit him, Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...
stands ready to fall upon the Wicked and seize them as his own.
- If it were not for God's restraints, there are, in the souls of wicked men, hellish principles reigning which, presently, would kindle and flame out into hellfire.
- Simply because there are not visible means of death before them, at any given moment, the Wicked should not, therefore, feel secure.
- Simply because it is natural to care for oneself or to think that others may care for them, men should not think themselves safe from God's wrath.
- All that wicked men may do to save themselves from Hell's pains shall afford them nothing if they continue to reject Christ.
- God has never promised to save us from Hell, except for those contained in Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...
through the covenant of Grace.
One church in Enfield, Connecticut had been largely unaffected during the Great Awakening of New England. Edwards was invited by the pastor of the church to preach to them. Edwards aim was to teach his listeners about the horror of hell, the danger of sin and the terror of being lost. Edwards describes the shaky position of those who do not follow Christ's urgent call to receive forgiveness.
"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is a typical sermon of the Great Awakening, emphasizing the belief that Hell is a real place. Edwards hoped that the imagery and message of his sermon would awaken his audience to the horrific reality that awaited them should they continue without Christ. The underlying point is that God has given humanity a chance to rectify their sins. Edwards says that it is the will of God that keeps wicked men from the depths of Hell. This act of restraint has given humanity a chance to mend their ways and return to Christ.
In the final section of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Edwards shows his theological argument at work throughout scripture and biblical history. This is done at length, invoking stories and examples throughout the whole of the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...
and comprises the bulk of this section. Edwards ends the sermon with one final appeal, "Therefore let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come." Without explicitly saying, Edwards indirectly gives a sense of hope to those currently out of Christ. Only by returning to Christ can one escape the stark fate outlined by Edwards.
Edwards was interrupted many times before finishing the sermon by people moaning and crying out, "What shall I do to be saved?". Jonathan Edwards' sermon continues to be the leading example of a Great Awakening sermon and is still used in religious and academic studies. Although the sermon has received criticism, Edwards' words have endured and are still read to this day, over 270 years later.
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...
- Religious Affections
A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections is a famous publication written in 1746 by Jonathan Edwards describing his philosophy about the process of Christian conversion in Northampton, Massachusetts during the Great Awakening, which emanated from Edwards' congregation starting in...
- A Faithful Narrative
- Freedom of the Will
- American philosophy
American philosophy is the philosophical activity or output of Americans, both within the United States and abroad. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy notes that while American philosophy lacks a "core of defining features, American Philosophy can nevertheless be seen as both reflecting and...
Redemption is a concept common to several theologies. It is generally associated with the efforts of people within a faith to overcome their shortcomings and achieve the moral positions exemplified in their faith.- In Buddhism :...
- The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners
The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners is a sermon by American Christian theologian, reformer, author, and pastor, Jonathan Edwards, originally published in 1734, that uses the text of Romans 3:19 as its basis.-Synopsis:...
- Conforti Joseph A. Jonathan Edwards, Religious Tradition, & American Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
- Hart, D.G., Sean Michael Lucas, and Stephen J. Nichols. The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2003.
- Kimnach, W.H., Maskell, C.J.D., and Minkema, K.P. Jonathan Edwards's Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: A Casebook. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2010.
- Marsden, George M. Jonathan Edwards: A Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2003.