“Sinners in the
Hands of an
• For Edwards, science, reason, and observation
of the universe confirmed for him the existence
• A brilliant thinker and speaker, Edwards entered
Yale at 13 and became a minister 12 years later.
• His passionate, yet frightening, sermons helped
to bring about The Great Awakening,
• a time when many who attended church were
not “saved” or could testify to an emotional
encounter with God and His grace.
• “Unregenerate” Christians
were those who attended church and accepted
church teachings but had not been “born again”
by God’s grace.
• He was dismissed as
pastor in 1750 because
his sermons were too
extreme; he “called out”
those in the congregation
who were leading lives
“relapsing into sin.”
Ironically, Edwards died
of a smallpox vaccination,
a modern medical procedure
many Puritans considered
On the one hand, Edwards believed “in reason and
learning, the value of independent intellect, and
the power of the human will.”
“On the other hand, he believed in the lowliness of
human beings in relation to God’s majesty and
the ultimate futility of merely human efforts to
“Edwards, as ‘the last Puritan,’ stood between
Puritan America and modern America.
Tragically, he fit into neither world.”
Figurative Language in
“Sinners in the Hands of an
By Jonathan Edwards
“The devil is waiting for them,
hell is gaping for them, the
flames gather and flash about
“The devil is waiting for them, hell
is gaping for them, the flames
gather and flash about them, and
would fain lay hold on them and
swallow them up…” (79).
“…the fire pent up in their own
hearts is struggling to break
“The bow of God’s wrath is bent,
and the arrow made ready on the
string, and justice bends the arrow
of your heart, and strains the
“The God that holds you over the
pit of Hell, much as one holds a
spider, or some loathsome insect
over the fire, …” (81).
“…you are ten thousand times more
abominable in his eyes, than the
most hateful venomous serpent is
in ours” (81).
“…it is a great furnace of wrath,
a wide and bottomless pit, full of
the fire of wrath…” (81).
“…if God should let you go, you
would immediately sink and swiftly
descend and plunge into a
bottomless gulf…” (80).
“The wrath of God is like great
waters that are damned for the
“…if your strength were ten thousand
times greater than it is, yea, ten
thousand times greater that the
strength of the stoutest, sturdiest
devil in hell, it would be nothing to
withstand or endure it” (80).
“That world of misery, that lake of
burning brimstone, is extended
abroad under you” (80).
“Your wickedness makes you as it
were heavy as lead” (80).
“…your own care and prudence,
…would have no more influence to
uphold you and keep you out of
Hell, than a spider’s web would
have to stop a fallen rock” (80).
“You have offended Him infinitely
more than ever a stubborn rebel
did his prince…” (81).
“…his wrath towards you burns
like fire;” (81).
“…they would avail no more to
keep you from falling than the thin
air to hold a person that is
suspended in it” (80).
“It is a great furnace of wrath, a
wide and bottomless pit, full of the
fire of wrath, that you are held over
in the hand of that God…” (81).