person lying in the fetal position surrounded by hellfire

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

by Jonathan Edwards
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Throughout his sermon, Jonathan Edwards discusses people’s relationship with God. How does Edwards change or refine the idea of God and people’s relationship with God from the beginning to the end of the excerpt? Cite evidence from the text to support your response

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The majority of Edwards's sermon details the depth of God's disgust with sinners. The eternal repercussions of God's wrath are made exquisitely clear: 

"'Tis everlasting Wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this Fierceness and Wrath of Almighty God one Moment; but you must suffer it to all Eternity: there will be no End to this exquisite horrible Misery..."

Moreover, Edwards uses compelling imagery to describe the tortuous nature of eternal damnation:

"Damnation don’t slumber, the Pit is prepared, the Fire is made ready, the Furnace is now hot, ready to receive them, the Flames do now rage and glow"

Edwards disabuses the congregation's notion that they will somehow sidestep damnation through the strengths that they assume they have:

"Natural Men’s Prudence and Care to preserve their own Lives, or the Care of others to preserve them, don’t secure ‘em a Moment."

But because the purpose of the sermon was to reinvigorate religious commitment and bring people back to the church, Edwards had to do more than browbeat and demoralize the people who gathered to hear him preach that day.  Toward the end of the sermon, Edwards changes his tone and alters his message.  He describes the joy and feasting the "elect" are able to enjoy and contrasts it with the "pining and perishing" of those who will be left behind.  He offers the hope of salvation to those who are willing to act quickly to secure it:

"And now you have an extraordinary Opportunity, a Day wherein Christ has flung the Door of Mercy wide open."



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