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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is the sermon composed by Jonathan Edwards, a well-known American theologian, who preached in the congregation in Northampton and Enfield. This work is a combination of the intense imagery of Hades and of the “contemporary” world and the constant citation of the Bible. This sermon was studied since 1730 to 1755 during the period of Great Awakening. In this paper, the Puritan quotes are highlighted, and similar ideologies in the sermon are discussed.
The Purpose of the Sermon
The work was written during Great Awakening, when the church had less influence on people. Edwards spoke upon the invitation by the church’s pastor and had an aim to tell the congregation about the terrible situation in hell and the results of sinful behavior. In his work the author also described the risk people face when they do not honor Christ’s call for repentance. He referred to numerous examples and stories from the Bible to support his religious arguments.
The author used the “fire and brimstone” approach and he was sure that God is angry because of people’s behavior. The aim of the sermon was to make the congregation aware that their actions in the earthly life were more important than anything other. Jonathan Edwards wanted to affect colonists’ actions, and he was convinced it was appropriate to discuss the anger of God referring to the high levels of sinning and abuse instead of doing this using usual warnings about sinning. To make sure his congregants were aware of their risky position in life, he convinced them that God could wipe them out. Edwards believed that humans were miserable creatures, who must serve on God’s mercy.
In general, though the target of the sermon was to change the congregation' sinful behaviors by convincing them that they managed to survive only due to God’s mercy, the author strived to create better people from the sinners. The sermon is frightening to some extent, but the author wanted it to be so to make sure people were scared and inspired at the same time.
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Edwards was considered that people had the chance to save their souls. He affirmed that all people were born with intrinsic degeneracy, but by living a holy life, they could overcome this natural sinfulness. Besides, Edwards had Puritan beliefs, according to which, all the sinners were only allowed to stay on the Earth because God is not ready yet to wipe them out.