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Leading Questions for Jonathan Edwards: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Sparking Presentation for American Literature Survey

James Baugher

on 11 May 2013

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Transcript of Leading Questions for Jonathan Edwards: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

by Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards Born into a Puritan evangelical household on October 5, 1703, in East Windsor, Connecticut
Studied at Yale University from 1716-1722
In 1726 became the pastor of the church in Northampton, Massachusetts
Edwards delivered sermons in a sober monotone unlike the content may imply
Married Sarah Pierpont in 1727
Died on March 22, 1758, following complications from a smallpox inoculation Discussion Question Three How does Edward's address his congregation and speak to them?
Does this strengthen his message? What are the main points of Edward's sermon? Discussion Question One "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" What image of hell does Edwards paint and how does it contribute to his message? Discussion Question Two "You are probably not sensible of this ... if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it." (198-199)
"Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment" (199)
" You are ten times more abominable in His eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours ... and yet it is nothing but His hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. " Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that few are saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done." (197)
" God has laid Himself under no obligation by any promise to keep natural [unconverted] man out of hell one moment." (198) First Edwards makes general statements Then Edwards addresses you Finally He Assert That Some of You Will Go to Hell Shortly " This is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be." (203)
"There is reason to think that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity ... It may be that they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape." (208)
" And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out." (208) "... seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed. 1. That they were always exposed to destruction ... 2. they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction ... 3. they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another ... 4. the reason why they are not fallen already, and do not fall now, is only that God's appointed time is not come." First, Edwards Speaks About the Israelites. Why? "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." (195)
"They deserve to be cast into hell ... justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins." (195)
"They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell ... every unconverted man properly belongs to hell." (195)
"They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God expressed in the torments of hell." (195)
"The devil stands ready to fall prey upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him." (196)
"There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning that would presently kindle and flame out into a hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints." (196)
"It is no security to wicked men for one moment that there are no visible means of death at hand." (196)
"Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment." (197)
"All wicked men's pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment." (197)
"God has laid Himself under no obligation by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment." (198) Then Edwards considers wicked men ... "The use of this awful [awesome] subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation." (198)
"There are black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you." (199)
"And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners." (204)
"Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of Kings?" (204)
"Therefore, let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation: Let everyone fly out of Sodom: 'Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed." The Conclusion of Edward's Message http://edwards.yale.edu/research/about-edwards/biography About the Author "The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course when once it is let loose ... and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God that holds the waters back" (199)
"The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood." (199) Why are you not in hell now and why is it important in Edward's message? "The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince is liable to suffer the most extreme torments that human art can invent, or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty, and strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth ... All the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are nothing, and less than nothing." (200-201)
"God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath." (201-202)
"He will only tread you under foot. And though He will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet He will not regard that, but he will crush out your blood, and make it fly and it shall be sprinkled on His garments, so as to stain all His raiment. He will not only hate you, but He will have you in the up most contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets." (202) What is hell like? " It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity ... You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is!" (203) How long will this wrath last? Discussion Focus: What message is Edwards trying to communicate and what tactics does he use to do it? If you were a member of Edward's congregation, what emotions and reactions might you have to this sermon? How does this contribute to his message? What purpose does this description serve? Why does Edwards include this? Why does he begin the sermon this way? How does this personal approach affect his message? What will this make the congregation feel, and how does that contribute to his message? Do you think that Edwards effectively communicated his message?
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