“There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758
This post is dedicated to Elaine, my SocMonkey* friend from South Africa.
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is a sermon written by American Christian theologian Jonathan Edwards, preached on July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut. 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 of c. 1730–1755.
Most of the sermon’s text consists of ten “considerations”:
- God may cast wicked men into hell at any given moment.
- 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 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 through the covenant of Grace.
“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.
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 is still read to this day, over 270 years later.
Have you tried the Pew Religion Quiz yet?
Nice cheery stuff, yes monkeys? Don’t let this mean man scare you. You really are good just the way you are. Mama says so.
* What’s a SocMonkey? I’ll tell you in the next post!