What does Jonathan Edwards mean by "Original Sin" described in his sermon, "Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concept of "original sin" is one in which Edwards argues all human beings are predisposed to angering God.  This position goes back to the idea that Adam and Eve, God's first children in the Garden of Eden, broke their promises with God and, eventually, broke God's heart in their actions.  From this "original" state, all human beings have descended from this sin.  Edwards uses this to bring to light that God has already been angry with human beings and because of this "his arrow" of God's judgment has already been drawn.  With this in mind, Edwards makes the argument that human beings that hear his sermon have to make fundamental changes in their lives because the condition of "original sin" has already condemned them to living a life of condemnation.  This condition helps Edwards make his argument that humans must change their ways or face the consequences of a vengeful and angry notion of God.  Original sin is another means by which Edwards can accomplish a sense of fear in the reader/ listener and invoke a sense of guilt, allowing a full capitulation to both God and Edwards' words.

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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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