person lying in the fetal position surrounded by hellfire

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

by Jonathan Edwards
Start Free Trial

Where does the tone change in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"?

The tone changes in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” towards the end of the sermon, when he offers his audience the hope of redemption after having warned them of the threat of damnation.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is a notable shift in tone during the last three paragraphs of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” For most of the sermon, Edwards unleashes a veritable hailstorm of hellfire and brimstone upon his audience, scaring them many of them and, according to historical reports, even causing some of them to faint in terror.

But Edwards doesn't just want to scare his audience; he wants them to change their ways, to turn their backs on a life of sin and walk upon the path of righteousness. And he knows that they are unlikely to do this if they have no hope.

Thus in the final few paragraphs of his otherwise fiery sermon, Edwards proceeds to hold out the possibility of redemption for the wicked sinners before him. He wants them to understand that despite everything he has said about their being sinners in the hands of an angry God, prone to being consigned to hell at any moment, they can still turn their lives around and turn their backs on sin.

Readers can see this dramatic change of tone expressed in the very last line of the sermon, when Edwards urges his audience to escape for their lives from Sodom, the biblical city full of sinners, and take to the mountains to avoid being consumed by the wrath of God.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team