Jonathan Edwards' Sinnners in the Hands of An Angry God Essay

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Jonathan Edwards' Sinnners in the Hands of An Angry God

Jonathan Edwards delivered his sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, in Enfield Connecticut on July 8, 1741, the year following George Whitefield's preaching tour which helped inspire the "Great Awakening." Weeping and emotional conviction among Edwards’ audiences came at a time of great spiritual thirst. While very foreign to mainstream American opinion today, this extraordinary message was fashioned for a people who were very conscious of how their lifestyles affected eternal consequences. By today's popular perspective, the doctrine of predestination probably discourages conversion because of the new-age independent attitude. However, in Puritan culture, through
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“Here was an old image redesigned to startle Enfield out of its smugness” (Cady 4). Every New Englander was intimate with his community’s use of water power at the mill, if nowhere else. The dramatic peril of floods as well as the daily power of the falling waters were familiar and exciting. “Edwards strikes blow after blow to the conscience-stricken hearts of his congregation. He draws graphic images from the Bible, all designed to warn sinners of their peril.

He tells them that they are walking on slippery places with the danger of falling from their own weight” (Sproul “God In The Hands Of Angry Sinners”). Edwards took the essence of his hearer’s own minds, raised it to the plane of his own intensity, and made his vision live in those memories.

Equally important is the spirituality of Edwards and the Puritans being far more complex than Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God portrays. The fear in the sermon is about having a holy respect for God's power. Because of the18th century popular culture, unconverted audience members probably remained more God-conscious in their daily living than most people of the past few centuries. “Edwards understood the nature of God's holiness. He perceived that unholy men have much to fear from such a God” (Cady “The Artistry of Jonathan Edwards”). He did not evangelize “...out of a sadistic delight in frightening people, but out of compassion. He loved his congregation enough
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