Today Jonathan Edwards Preached His Most Famous Sermon

Chris —  July 8, 2009

Fred Sanders of Scriptorium:

It was on July 8, 1741 that Jonathan Edwards preached the sermon for which he is most famous, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

Edwards had already preached a different version of the sermon a month earlier at Northampton, Massachussetts, but he had strengthened the sermon in a number of ways before preaching it on July 8 to a congregation a little to the south in Enfield, Connecticut. When the Enfield congregation heard it, one eyewitness reported that there was “a great moaning & crying out throughout ye whole House … shreiks & crys – were piercing & Amazing,” and that Edwards had to stop reading the sermon.

“Sinners” looms large in American memory. It is a sermon on hell that has seared itself into the conscience of the country and made people think that most Christian preaching, or perhaps most Puritan preaching, or at least most of Edwards’ preaching, must have been hellfire-and-brimstone.

Read the whole thing here.

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5 responses to Today Jonathan Edwards Preached His Most Famous Sermon

  1. I highly recommend Mark Dever’s presentation of this sermon.

    It seems to be out of step today to speak of God’s wrath. We rarely hear it from the pulpit and I can’t remember the last time I sang a hymn about it. I’ve been encouraged recently by my pastor to study the topic and it’s been eye opening for me. Part of my study included listening to Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. I’ve also been listening to MacArthur’s series on God’s wrath which I also recommend:

    MacArthur points that God’s love is balanced perfectly by His hate–His wrath and that we can only truly understand the magnitude of God’s love when we also understand the magnitude of His hate. In other words, when we understand how much God HATES sin, it’s that much more amazing that He could LOVE us.

    This is important truth, especially for Christians struggling with habitual sin. There are 2 ways to handle habitual sin… discipline and a proper understanding of God’s wrath. Discipline doesn’t work… having success 9 days out of 10 is a pretty good track record as far as the world is concerned, but it’s not good enough. Only when we really understand God’s wrath will we be able to break through and have REAL victory.

  2. Chris, I think one of the biggest deficiencies in forgiveness teaching is a failure to point to God’s wrath. In the context of forgiveness, the notion of God’s wrath warns us against being unwilling to forgive, and also assures us that unrepentant offenders are not off the hook. Where the latter is concerned, this is the central way we are protected from bitterness. We don’t have to feel like victims. God will sort everything out in the end.

  3. It is freeing to know that God will sort it out in the end. But we need to understand it in a way that affects our lives today. Too often we think of God’s anger as cumulative… “I can do this 99 times and as long as I don’t do it the 100th time, God’s anger won’t boil over.” That’s incorrect. ONCE is all it takes. We need to understand that the next time we look at pornography or allow our anger to boil over (or whatever other habitual sin we might struggle with) God is very likely to strike back immediately and fiercely. This is the aspect of God’s wrath that I need to believe more completely.

  4. do you believe that we should forgive those who are not repentant. I heard a teaching on this and they said we don’t forgive unless the offender repents.

  5. Hi Bev, this is something I talk about at length in my book, Unpacking Forgiveness. The quick answer is that I believe we should always have an attitude of forgiveness but that forgiveness does not fully take place unless the other party repents. If you see the forgiveness quiz at the top of my blog, then you will be able to take it and read some more questions and answers about this.