person lying in the fetal position surrounded by hellfire

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

by Jonathan Edwards

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What is the central message of Jonathan Edwards' sermon?

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The purpose of Jonathan Edwards' sermon was to reinvigorate the faith of believers and convert nonbelievers to Christianity.  As inhabitants of the colonies were becoming more diverse in their beliefs and others more secular and commercially-minded, the Puritan faith was beginning to lose followers. Edwards' sermon was part of the largely unsuccessful (First) Great Awakening, a religious revival movement.

The central message of the sermon is that God is filled with wrath for the sinners who have fallen away from the church and is ready to cast them all into the eternal suffering of Hell.  Edwards preaches at length in very vivid and evocative language to terrify his listeners.  Near the end of the sermon, he modifies his tone and suggests that if people act quickly to rededicate themselves to God, there is a chance for salvation.

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