“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is a sermon written by the American Christian theologian Jonathan Edwards, preached to his own congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts, to profound effect, and again on July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut.
The preaching of this sermon was the catalyst for the First Great Awakening. Like Edwards’ other works, it combines vivid imagery of Hell with observations of the world and citations of the scripture. It is Edwards’ most famous written work, is a fitting representation of his preaching style, and is widely studied by Christians and historians, providing a glimpse into the theology of the First Great Awakening. This was a highly influential sermon of the Great Awakening, emphasizing God’s wrath upon unbelievers after death to a very real, horrific, and fiery Hell. The underlying point is that God has given humans a chance to confess their sins. It is the mere will of God, according to Edwards, that keeps wicked men from being overtaken by the devil and his demons and cast into the furnace of hell – “like greedy hungry lions, that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back [by God’s hand].” Mankind’s own attempts to avoid falling into the “bottomless gulf” due to the overwhelming “weight and pressure towards hell” are insufficient as “a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock“. This act of grace from God has given humans a chance to believe and trust in Christ. Edwards provides much varied and vivid imagery to illustrate this main theme throughout.