SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD

On this day, July 8, in the year 1741, America heard what is often hailed as the greatest sermon preached on her soil from a man who is often hailed as the greatest theologian and thinker to minister on her soil.

(Considered to be one of the most famous sermons in American history, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was first delivered in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741. Timely yet timeless, Edwards shows us our true nature, that nature which we see so very clearly even today.)

by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Enfield, Connecticut
July 8, 1741
Their foot shall slide in due time
Deut. 32:35


In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked
unbelieving Israelites, who were God’s visible people, and who lived under
the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works
towards them, remained (as in verse 28) void of counsel, having no
understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought
forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the
text. The expression I have chosen for my text, Their foot shall slide in due
time, 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; as one that stands or
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in
the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being
represented by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm
73:18. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst
them down into destruction.”

2. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected
destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment
liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand
or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without
warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm 73:18, 19. “Surely thou
didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into
destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!”

3. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves,
without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that
stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight
to throw him down.

4. That the reason why they are not fallen already, and do not fall now,
is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that
when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide.
Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own
weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any
longer, but will let them go; and then at that very instant, they shall
fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining
ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let
go he immediately falls and is lost.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this.
“There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell,
but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his
sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered
by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere
will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the
preservation of wicked men one moment.

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

1. 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. The
strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his
hands.-He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can
most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great
deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify
himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his
followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any
defense from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast
multitudes of God’s enemies combine and associate themselves, they
are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff
before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before
devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that
we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a
slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when
he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we
should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth
trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands
in the way, it makes no objection against God’s using his power at
any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls
aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of
the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, “…cut it down, why
cumbereth it the ground?” Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is
every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the
hand of arbitrary mercy, and God’s mere will, that holds it back.

3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do
not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of
the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that
God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them,
and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to
hell. John 3:18: “He that believeth not is condemned already.” So
that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his
place; from thence he is, John 8:23: “Ye are from beneath.” And
thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God’s word, and
the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God,
that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do
not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose
power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with
many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and
bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry
with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with
many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease,
than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and
does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them
off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they
may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them,
their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is
made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the
flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held
over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own,
at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has
their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture
represents them as his goods, Luke 11:21. The devils watch them;
they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for
them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to
have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his
hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly
upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens
its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they
would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles
reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it
were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of
carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those
corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession
of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and
powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the
restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they
would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the
same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget
the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in
scripture compared to the troubled sea (Isaiah 57:20). For the
present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he
does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “Hitherto shalt
thou come, but no further;” but if God should withdraw that
restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and
misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should
leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the
soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is
immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live
here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraints, whereas if it were let
loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is
now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately
turn the soul into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no
visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man,
that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he
should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and
that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances.
The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows
this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity,
and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen,
unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the
world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk
over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable
places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight,
and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at
noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many
different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world
and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear,
that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the
ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any
moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the
world, are so in God’s hands, and so universally and absolutely
subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all
the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any
moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all
concerned in the case.

8. 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. To
this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear
testimony. There is this clear evidence that men’s own wisdom is no
security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see
some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and
others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death:
but how is it in fact? Ecclesiastes 2:16: “How dieth the wise man?
even as the fool.”

9. 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. Almost every natural man
that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends
upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has
done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. 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 there are but few 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. He does not intend to come to
that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take
effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their
own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom;
they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who
heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now
dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they
were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because
they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their
own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one
by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to
hear about hell ever to be the subjects of that misery: we doubtless,
should hear one and another reply, “No, I never intended to come
here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I
should contrive well for myself: I thought my scheme good. I
intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I
did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a
thief: Death outwitted me: God’s wrath was too quick for me. Oh,
my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself
with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was
saying, Peace and safety, then suddenly destruction came upon me.

10. God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any
natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no
promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation
from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace,
the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are
yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of
the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who
do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the
Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises
made to natural men’s earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and
manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever
prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of
obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the
pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to
it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as
to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his
wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate
that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them
up one moment; 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; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break
out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within
reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge,
nothing to take hold of, all that preserves them every moment is the mere
arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed
God.

APPLICATION
The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons
in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of
you that are out of Christ.-That world of misery, that lake of burning
brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the
glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth
open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of,
there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and
mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but
do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good
state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means
you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; 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.
Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend
downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should
let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge
into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care
and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would
have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a
spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the
sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for
you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made
subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not
willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth
does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly
a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly
serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you
spend your life in the service of God’s enemies. God’s creatures are good,
and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve
to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so
directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you
out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in
hope. 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. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind;
otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a
whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.

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. It is true, that judgment against your
evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance
have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly
increasing, 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, that are
unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only
withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and
the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with
inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and
if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten
thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in
hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

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. Thus all you that never passed under a
great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your
souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and
raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether
unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However
you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had
religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families
and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure
that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting
destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what
you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone
from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with
them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they
expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now
they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety,
were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or
some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully
provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as
worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than
to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more
abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in
ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did
his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling
into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you
did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in
this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other
reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in
the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other
reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here
in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner
of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be
given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: 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, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as
much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a
slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready
every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in
any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep
off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have
done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.
And consider here more particularly,

1. Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only
the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would
be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very
much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, who have the
possessions and lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be
disposed of at their mere will. Proverbs 20:2: “The fear of a king is
as the roaring of a lion: Whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth
against his own soul.” 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. It is but little that they can do, when most
enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All
the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are
nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to
be despised. The wrath of the great King of kings, is as much more
terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke 12:4-5: “And I
say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body,
and after that, have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn
you whom you shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath
power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

2. It is the fierceness of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often
read of the fury of God; as in Isaiah 59:18: “According to their
deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries.” So Isaiah
66:15: “For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots
like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with
flames of fire.” And in many other places. So, Revelation 19:15,
where we read of “the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of
Almighty God.” The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been
said, “the wrath of God,” the words would have implied that which is
infinitely dreadful: but it is “the fierceness and wrath of God.” The
fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful must that
be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them!
But it is also “the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” As though
there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty power in
what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though
omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are
wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh!
then, what will be the consequence! What will become of the poor
worms that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be strong? And whose
heart can endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable
depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk who shall be the
subject of this!

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an
unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his
anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God
beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment
to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your
poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite
gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the
executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall
be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough
wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest
you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you
shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be
withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezekiel 8:18:
“Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither
will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice,
yet will I not hear them.” Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a
day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of
obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most
lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be
wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your
welfare. 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. God will be so far
from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only
“laugh and mock” (Proverbs 1:25, 26 & etc.).

How awful are those words in Isaiah 63:3, which are the words of the
great God: “I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in
my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I
will stain all my raiment.” It is perhaps impossible to conceive of
words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three
things, vis. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If
you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your
doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead
of that, 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 you under his feet
without mercy; 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 utmost contempt:
no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden
down as the mire of the streets.

3. The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that
end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath
had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent
his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly
kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the
extreme punishments they would execute on those that would
provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch
of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged
with Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders
that the burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter
than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of
fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also
willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty
power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Romans 9:22: “What
if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known,
endure with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to
destruction?” And seeing this is his design, and what he has
determined, even to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the
fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be
something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful
with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and
executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is
actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation,
then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful
majesty and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isaiah 33:12-14:
“And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up
shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear ye that are far off, what I have
done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in
Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites.”
Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you
continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of the
omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable
strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of
the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you
shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven
shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see
what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they
have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and
majesty. Isaiah 66:23, 24: “And it shall come to pass, that from one
new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all
flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go
forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed
against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be
quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”

4. 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. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When
you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration
before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your
soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance,
any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. 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!
All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint
representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For “who
knows the power of God’s anger?”

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger
of this great wrath and infinite misery! But 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. Oh that you would
consider it, whether you be young or old! 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. We know not
who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have.
It may be 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. If we knew that
there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to
be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If
we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person!
How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter
cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember
this discourse in hell? 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. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in
some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be
there before to-morrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a
natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little
time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all
probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder
that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you
have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that
heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is
past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but
here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an
opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned
hopeless souls give for one day’s opportunity such as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has
thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with
a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and
pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east,
west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable
condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled
with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in
his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to
be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you
are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of
heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for
vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are
not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where
they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to
this day born again? and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,
and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath
against the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is
extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great.
Do you not see how generally persons of your years are passed over and
left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God’s
mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of
sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God.-And
you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season
which you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all
youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an
extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as
with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth in sin, and are
now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. And you,
children, who are unconverted, do not you know that you are going down
to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you
every day and every night? 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?

And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell,
whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or
little children, now harken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence.
This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favours to some, will
doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men’s hearts
harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they
neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons
being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems
now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and
probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be
brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great outpouring
of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles’ days; the election will
obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you,
you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was
born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God’s Spirit, and will wish
that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now
undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an
extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which
brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.
Therefore, let every one 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 every one fly out of Sodom:
“Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the
mountain, lest you be consumed.”

Read by: David Bruce Sonner

Source : http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=770213541

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3 thoughts on “SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD

  1. This sermon by Jonathan Edwards is still considered to be one of the most important sermons ever preached in America. As a very short summary, here are ten “considerations” which are taken from the sermon:

    1. God may cast wicked men into hell at any given moment.

    2. The Wicked deserve to be cast into hell. Divine justice does not prevent God from destroying the Wicked at any moment.

    3. The Wicked, at this moment, suffer under God’s condemnation to Hell.

    4. The Wicked, on earth – at this very moment – suffer the torments of Hell. The Wicked must not think, simply because they are not physically in Hell, that God (in Whose hand the Wicked now reside) is not – at this very moment – as angry with them as He is with those miserable creatures He is now tormenting in hell, and who – at this very moment – do feel and bear the fierceness of His wrath.

    5. At any moment God shall permit him, Satan stands ready to fall upon the Wicked and seize them as his own.

    6. If it were not for God’s restraints, there are, in the souls of wicked men, hellish principles reigning which, presently, would kindle and flame out into hellfire.

    7. Simply because there are not visible means of death before them, at any given moment, the Wicked should not, therefore, feel secure.

    8. Simply because it is natural to care for oneself or to think that others may care for them, men should not think themselves safe from God’s wrath.

    9. All that wicked men may do to save themselves from Hell’s pains shall afford them nothing if they continue to reject Christ.

    10. God has never promised to save us from Hell, except for those contained in Christ through the covenant of Grace.

    Edwards ends the sermon with one final appeal, “Therefore let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come.” Without explicitly saying, Edwards indirectly gives a sense of hope to those currently out of Christ. Only by returning to Christ can one escape the stark fate outlined by Edwards.

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  2. Oh my goodness, this message is very sobering! I have heard of this famous message before, but have never read or listened to it.

    God says that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked and ‘why will you die O house of Israel..’ and yet people do find themselves in that horrible place. Such a disturbing and yet true message. It is well for everyone to listen to this message and to examine themselves to know that they are truly in the faith.

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