Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God Audience

Who was the audience for Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of Angry God” sermon? How did they respond?

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Jonathan Edwards wrote and delivered his famous sermon during the Enlightenment period.  Scientifically this was a great period.  Lots of great scientific minds were adding a large amount of content to the breadth of scientific knowledge. Consequently, many people began wavering in their faith and devotion to God. A large...

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Jonathan Edwards wrote and delivered his famous sermon during the Enlightenment period.  Scientifically this was a great period.  Lots of great scientific minds were adding a large amount of content to the breadth of scientific knowledge. Consequently, many people began wavering in their faith and devotion to God. A large portion of New Englanders were Puritans or descendants of the original Puritans. As a way to combat the waning faith, a religious revival began happening during this time as well. It became known as the Great Awakening. Jonathan Edwards gave his sermon during that period.  

His intended audience is probably two-fold. First, he knows that he is speaking to still faithfully strong Puritans. His fire and brimstone sermon served to keep those believers on the straight and narrow. His second audience would be those Puritans who had wandered from the faith and had become uncertain of God's place in their lives. A possible third audience would be people who had never accepted God as their savior in the first place. It wouldn't have mattered, because the verbiage of the sermon is addressed to both of those people, who are "hanging over the pit of hell."  

The effect of Edward's sermon was as intended. It made people fearful of an eternity in Hell and brought people back to the faith. Edward's sermon didn't do this all by itself, though. The entire Great Awaking served this function. Edwards just played a part.  

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