In "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," to whom does the term "natural men" refer?

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The "natural men" to whom Edwards refers seem to be those individuals who attempt to reach heaven through good behavior and adherence to religious practices or rituals rather than through an acceptance of Jesus Christ. He says,

whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction. So that thus it is that natural men held in the hand of God over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it.

These natural men are already sentenced to hell, and God, Edwards claims, is ready to allow them to fall into the pits of hell. Until these natural men believe in and accept Christ as their savior, they will remain natural—which, here, has quite a negative connotation—and in a state of sinfulness. These men may take care to do and say all the things that a good person does and says, but, without a real opening of one's heart to Christ, one cannot hope to avoid hell, according to Edwards.

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As Jonathan Edwards wrote and presented his historic sermon "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God", his emphasis was reformation. He was a British Reform Theologian who was preaching in the early 1700's, a time of discovery, exploration and revolution.

His emphasis was to encourage people to not depart too far from God and scripture in this exploration, discovery and revolution. This is a constant concern with theologians in any age.

"The natural men" that you ask about are people who live their lives according to strictly natural impulses, desires and plans. It describes one who has not accepted the spiritual guidance available from God that he has provided. In doing so, "the natural man" wanders without direction or understanding of what is truly important in life.

The emphasis of the sermon is that the tragedy of the natural man's rejection of God is to fall into "The Hands of an Angry God." 

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