Benjamin Town 31 August 2012 A Ray of Hope “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” was preached by Jonathan Edwards during a time when the people were relying on science more than their saviour in heaven, a time when people were lacking in their spiritual needs. This speech opened the eyes of many, and was so powerful it may very well have been the trigger of the great awakening. But why was this speech so powerful? Why did this speech change the lives of thousands?
As we can see he used plenty of persuasive techniques, he is very descriptive in his imagery and uses simple metaphors to persuade thousands to repent of their sinful ways and turn to Christ. He planted fear and guilt into their hearts. This sermon is a sermon full of anger and fright, a sermon powerful enough to make the strongest man cry and weep. But the true purpose of this sermon was to bring hope to a nation in need.
It ultimately was a message of redemption, a message that Jonathan Edwards believed people needed to hear. Although Edward’s message was designed to torment and terrify the listeners it was ultimately a message of hope to all people who were sinning and turning on God. He uses simple imagery to connect to his audience who were mostly illiterate. He compares God’s wrath to “Great Waters” he says “the wrath of God is like great waters that area dammed for the present, they increase more and more and rise higher and higher”.
Just by knowing that an all-powerful God is mad at you would cause fear, but to know that His wrath towards you is growing greater and greater would cause even more fear and uneasiness to the listeners. But he then says God’s wrath will flood the earth only if he chooses to open the flood gates which give the listeners a glimpse of hope. Jonathan Edwards uses metaphors to connect to the people’s everyday lives.
He tells them that their sin is as “heavy as led” and will pull them straight down to hell. “Your wickedness makes you as it were as heavy as lead, and to tend downward with great weight and pressure toward hell, and if God should let you go you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf” by knowing that God holding you is the only thing that’s keeping you from hell would put fear and guilt into the listeners hearts, but as we can see he once again says “if”. If God should let you go”, he is continually reminding them that God is in control of everything, and will only destroy them if they do not repent from there sinful ways. There is still a chance to change, there is still hope. “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” was an exceptionally well thought and written sermon. Jonathan Edwards was effectively able to move the hearts of many by using simple imagery and metaphors that connected to the people’s everyday lives.
Jonathan Edwards also managed to effectively connected to people’s emotions, he struck fear and guilt to all those who heard his sermon. He wanted his listeners to be aware that their behaviour on earth was important, that they were doomed to certain hell. But when they thought all was lost they were given a ray of hope, the realization that God can forgive them of their sins and that they will not go to hell if and only if they repent of their sinful ways.
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