person lying in the fetal position surrounded by hellfire

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

by Jonathan Edwards

Start Free Trial

According to the sermon, what constant threat do all human beings face?

Quick answer:

Edwards uses powerful imagery and persuasive language to portray the Hell of fire as a real danger that people are in. The dramatic metaphors create strong emotional reactions from the listeners, who then become fearful and repentant. This is an excellent example of ethos, pathos, and logos. Edwards builds his credibility through his education, position as a minister, and his sincere belief in God's word. He also evokes emotion using dialogue between himself and the audience (e.g. "Do you think it is a small thing…") along with vivid imagery (fire) to persuade them to turn away from their sin before they are punished by God's wrathful anger.

Expert Answers

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

Edwards defines human "wickedness" as a constant threat to all human beings.  This condition is what invokes God's anger and is what Edwards sees as the fundamental threat in being in the world.  For Edwards, the basic condition of wickedness that is intrinsic to human beings is that against which God directs his anger against:

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

Edwards sees the threat of wickedness present in those who knowingly turn from God's grace and power.  He also sees it in those who are "spiritually somnolent."  Edwards seeks to awake these individuals for their actions cause God great anger, and thus pose a constant threat to individual salvation.  It is here in which righteousness is defined in a clear manner:  One must be aware of and demonstrate embrace towards the power of God.  One cannot live in slumber and expect God to not take action against them.  "The hearts of damned souls" contain a level of "wickedness" that causes God to be filled with great anger.  It is this condition of being that Edwards identifies as critical to the spiritual awakening of humanity.  It is critical to avoid the fate of condemnation from the divine.  Aspects of this include the "rejection" of the divine in the form of God and Christ.  When this happens, wickedness is present and this becomes the constant threat to all human beings.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Jonathan Edwards's sermon, what is a constant threat to all human beings?

According to "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," hellfire and damnation are a constant threat to all human beings.

The sermon emphasizes, using vivid imagery, the extremely insecure situation of every living person. None of us realize how close we are to the eternal fire. It is as we are going happily across a bridge while not noticing that the bridge (life) itself is rickety and full of holes and that beneath it is a horrible, flaming inferno that we can plunge into forever with one tiny slip of the foot.

Only through the grace of God are we not all already screaming in that pit of eternal fire. We cannot keep out of it by our own acts: only God can protect us. Therefore, we need to make God the focus of our lives, especially through unremitting faith in Jesus Christ, so that we can hope to be saved from everlasting torment.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Jonathan Edwards's sermon, what is a constant threat to all human beings?

According to Edwards, in "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God", there are many constant threats to mankind.

Basically, as shown in the verse preceding the sermon (Deut. 32:35) mankind was simply facing the fact that "In due time their foot would slip."

That being said, there were multiple things that Edwards was stating existed as constant threats to humanity.

Death is always at hand.

While Edwards states that God can at any time withdraw his hand and allow man to fall into the pit of hell, the fact remains that to fall into the pit of hell one must die first.

That being said, it is not necessarily only the fact that God can, at any time, choose to send a man/woman to hell, it is the ever-present fear of death.

Below is a link that can help you to see another view on your question as well.

 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Jonathan Edwards' sermon, what is a constant threat to all human beings?  

In his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Jonathan Edwards uses strong imagery and effective persuasion in an attempt to convince his congregation to repent their sins and turn to God before it is too late and they are sent to hell forever. Edwards truly believes that people are in constant danger of being sent to hell to spend an eternity in terrible pain and anguish. One example out of the text that shows this is the following quote:

"Oh sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over by the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder." 

This precarious image of hanging only by a thread creates worry and near panic in the listener.  Edwards believes the only reason people haven't already been punished has been that God has been holding them up - but God's patience is wearing thin, and they are in immediate danger. 

Another example that illustrates the immediacy of the danger they are in is the metaphor comparing God's wrath to a bow bent with an "arrow made ready." This image of God's wrath as a weapon ready to spring further elicits strong emotional reaction - mainly fear.  

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Jonathan Edwards' sermon, what is a constant threat to all human beings?  

I am assuming you are referring to Edwards' most famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."  In this sermon, Edwards tells his listeners that God has every right to be angry at them and to feel towards them like a person feels towards a spider or other "loathsome insect."

Because of this, people are constantly under threat of having God send them to hell.  It is only, to Edwards, God's mercy that keeps this from happening and God could choose to withdraw that mercy at any moment.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Jonathan Edwards’s sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," what is a constant threat to all human beings?

Jonathan Edward's sermon is rife with dark suppositions and assertions in regards to his views of God and the afterlife. He warns of various threats to humanity, the inevitable destruction of man (particularly the Israelites), and the inescapable nature of sin. However, what all of this boils down to- in Jonathan Edwards's view- is the constant threat of God's will. 

Edwards argues that all that occurs in life, and all that man enjoys and endures, exists by the will of God alone. In fact, Edwards says of all of mankind, "they are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell." Here he says that mankind is already damned, and each one of us has brought the wrath of God upon our own heads, and it is utterly inescapable. Though all of mankind here on Earth is not yet burning in the pits of hell for their sins, it does not mean that they are safe from this fate. Edwards says, "The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him." Here, Edwards even employs the Devil as a servant of God, a creature dedicated to the torture of wicked human souls for all of eternity because God wills it. There is nothing in all of Creation that God does not have a hand in, though others many contest that the acts of the Devil are against God's will.  It is his will that most- if not all- of humanity will spend eternity in the depths of hell. It is this- the Will of the Angry God that has created us- that is the one constant threat to all of Humanity. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Jonathan Edwards’s sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," what is a constant threat to all human beings?  

Jonathan Edwards' sermon was delivered to a congregation in Enfield, Connecticut during a time when it was widely believed that many Congregationalists had become comfortable in their own salvation, and thus insufficiently zealous. Edwards, like many other ministers often identified with the Great Awakening, hoped to win back, or more accurately reinvigorate these lapsed church members. The sermon itself was a comment on Deuteronomy 32:35, which read "Their feet shall slide in due time," and Edwards' strategy was to portray man, inherently evil, as being constantly in danger of immediate destruction:

There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. 

The only thing, Edwards averred, that caused God to forbear was his mercy, and he emphasized that unless the members of the congregation turned to Christ, they could be cut loose, like a spider hanging from a string, to descend into the pit of Hell. There was, ultimately, hope, but first people had to understand how immediate the danger was.

 

 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on