What references in the sermon reveal Edwards's implicit philosophical beliefs regarding divine mercy? 

What references in the sermon reveal Edwards's implicit philosophical beliefs regarding divine mercy?

 

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The vast majority of Edwards's 1741 sermon emphasizes God's formidable anger with sinners and his readiness to subject them to the eternal tortures of hell. The sermon does, however, take a significant turn in tone and message near the conclusion, when Edwards declaims:

"And now you have 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."

Edwards goes on to claim that "God seems now to be hastily gathering in his Elect in all Parts of the Land" as if divine mercy has an imminent expiration date. The final words of the sermon exhort listeners to hasten their pursuit of God's gift of salvation, likening their condition to the people who were left behind to perish when, in the biblical story, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire.  

Scholars of Edwards's work recognize some apparent modifications in his beliefs as he developed as a theologian, but what seems consistent is the idea that God's granting of grace could be arbitrary and is ultimately unknowable.

Read the study guide:
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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