How do you think that most people in Edwards's audience responded to his "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" speech?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Johnathan Edwards, author of the sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, had the great fortune of living during the Great Awakening in America, when many people turned to religion for a personal conversion experience. Edwards did not have one congregation; rather, he was one of a group of circuit preachers who traveled all over the Northeast, and he had a great following. People in colonial times did not have electronic devices to distract them, and they were used to paying attention to long sermons, which is good, because Edwards's sermon lasted two hours. During those two hours, people could actually visualize their lives hanging by a thread over a fiery Hell. Reports from the time actually had people crying and in fear for their souls. When Edwards asked people to repent of their sins and come to Jesus, many people hurried to do this for fear that they would not get to take their next breath. Edwards's imagery was so vivid that the message stayed with the listeners; even today, the sermon is still read not only as religious literature, but also for its descriptive qualities.

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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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