person lying in the fetal position surrounded by hellfire

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

by Jonathan Edwards

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According to Edwards, have human beings appeased God?

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Part of what is Edwards's driving motivation in the sermon is to make clear how human beings have not appeased God.  Edwards wishes to convince individuals that they are living on borrowed time from the divine. Edwards suggests that part of the reason that human beings have not appeased God is because they operate under the belief that they are infallible and incapable of death. Edwards sees human beings possessing a mentality that they are the beginning and end of their existence, without paying proper homage to the divine. Edwards seeks to repudiate this idea and make human beings understand how fragile their existence is due to the presence of the divine:

It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. 

Edwards continues this with suggesting that human beings are “walking over the pit of hell on a rotten covering."  For Edwards, this becomes the basis of why human beings have not appeased the divine.  They live as if they are the reason for their being in the world.  It is this attitude that Edwards sees that underscores a lack of faith in the divine and a complete lack of appeasement in terms of the divine.  For Edwards, the realization of their own lives are "living on borrowed time" is of vital importance and in this recognition, a change can become more evident.  Edwards asserts that "Wickedness" and the "rejection of Christ" are rooted in a mentality in which human beings assert themselves as more of a primal force than the divine.  Edwards argues that God cannot be appeased in such a mindset.

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According to Edwards, have human beings done anything to appease God?

One of the main motivations of Edwards's sermon is to galvanize the listener or audience to grasp the anger that God possesses.  The anger of the divine is the result of how unhappy God is with the lack of spiritual affection given to him.  For Edwards, God's anger is the result of transgression.  In this, Edwards believes that human beings have not done enough to appease the divine. "Their foot will slip" is a repeated phrase that Edwards uses throughout the sermon.  This "slipping" is the result of human beings not doing enough in the name of the divine. Even if human beings have done enough, Edwards wishes to paint the picture of an unhappy vision of the divine.  This is where he recognizes that God's anger knows no limitations and that his wrath is the result of human beings not doing enough to please the will of the divine.

It is in this notion where Edwards drives home his point in his sermon.  Human beings are sinners that are dealing with the wrath of God.  In recognition of this condition of being, human beings have to alter their ways and must reform.  This is why Edwards does not feel that human beings have done enough.  They need to continue to feel that more must be done in order to avoid the anger of God and the wrath of the divine.

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