In "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," what is the writer's main purpose?

Jonathan Edwards's main purpose in his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is to persuade his listeners to repent for their sins and find salvation in Christ.

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In “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry GodJonathan Edwards strives to effect a profound transformation in his listeners' hearts. He wants them to realize, before it's too late, that they are sinful creatures who must turn their backs on the lives that they have been leading...

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In “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry GodJonathan Edwards strives to effect a profound transformation in his listeners' hearts. He wants them to realize, before it's too late, that they are sinful creatures who must turn their backs on the lives that they have been leading and embrace God.

Though most people at the time undoubtedly led lives that, by modern standards, would be considered deeply devout, Edwards, as a staunch Calvinist, still sees unmistakable signs of sinful living everywhere. Having so identified such signs, he's determined to remind anyone who'll listen that they must turn away from their sinful lives and devote themselves to true Christian living as understood by Calvinists. There must be no complacency; otherwise, the consequences will be very serious indeed.

To this end, Edwards sets out to put the fear of God into his audience by reminding them of the Almighty's awesome, unlimited power. It's all too easy to forget, but God is always watching and judging; he is the sole judge of whether or not a soul is sinful. That being the case, it's essential that all believers leave behind their sinful lives and walk upon the path of righteousness lest they be consigned to the fires of Hell for all eternity.

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Jonathan Edwards's main purpose in this sermon is to provide a dire warning to those living in sin and surrendering to temptation. It is a message not about God's love, but about his wrath.

He reminded his listeners that God's power is terrifying and all-consuming, and that those who are wicked will endure the flames of hell for eternity if they do not turn to Christ. He used an assortment of images to remind sinners of how fragile they were in the face of God's might and anger. These images, such as of people being "dry stubble before devouring flames" left nothing to the imagination and drew a brutal picture of what Edwards believed awaited sinners.

Edwards makes the point that since no man knows when he will breathe his last breath, hell can be only a heartbeat away for the unrepentant. His purpose, therefore, is to strike the fear of God into those listening to his sermon, pushing them to repent through a spirit of fear.

I would argue that three thoughts are being emphasized throughout this sermon. The first is the way that God views sin—as intolerable filth. The second is God's anger towards mankind for their ongoing culture of sinfulness. The third is the sudden nature of death, and the corresponding fact that judgment could be seconds away at any time.

In a nutshell, the writer's main purpose is to create awareness of God's anger and to strike fear into those listening.

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The purpose of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is to persuade those who hear or read it to repent of their sins and turn to Christ for salvation. This aim is directly addressed in the last few paragraphs. Edwards writes:

Therefore let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the Wrath to come.

However, immediately after this exhortation, the preacher continues:

The Wrath of almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over great Part of this Congregation.

The second statement, which provides the motive for repentance, is far more representative of the main body of the sermon than the exhortation to find salvation in Christ. Even in that brief statement, Edwards manages to include a reference to "the Wrath to come." The most memorable passages in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" concern God's righteous wrath, and how little reason there is for him to have mercy. Edwards describes God holding the sinner over the pit of hell, observing that there is no reason but God's infinite mercy for him to save the sinner for a moment longer. Throughout the sermon, the vileness of the sinner, the anger of God, and the immediacy of the danger are constantly emphasized. However, the ultimate purpose of the terror Edwards excites is not merely to make his listeners afraid, but to use their fear to save them from the dangers he describes.

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Jonathan Edwards’s main goal in writing and delivering his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was to persuade people to love God and give their hearts to him.  If they do this, Edwards believes they can be saved.

Before the Great Awakening (of which Edwards was a part), many religious Americans believed in predestination. They believed God had already decided whether they were going to Heaven or Hell and that there was nothing they could do to change their fate. Preachers of the Great Awakening disagreed. They believed people deserved to be damned but could save themselves by accepting God’s love and loving God in return. 

The main purpose of Edwards’s sermon is to convince the people who are listening that this is true. He warns them about how they are in danger of going to Hell, and claims they would completely deserve that fate. He says, there is an opportunity for them, though; they can accept God and improve their chances for salvation. Edwards tells his listeners that God has given them

an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners.

He tells them that many other people have already accepted God’s love and that their

hearts [are] filled with love to him that has loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.

He urges them to do the same so they might be saved as well and be able to live with God in Heaven. His main goal in this sermon is to get people to accept God’s love and to love him back so they can be saved from damnation.

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