Jonathan Edwards: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”


On July 8, 1741, at Enfield, Connecticut, Jonathan Edwards, pastor of the Reformed Church in Northampton, Massachusetts, delivered what is perhaps his most famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The thrust of the sermon is contained in the title: God is an angry, wrathful God, with the power to cast wicked people into hell at any moment. At the same time, God is a merciful God who sent his son, Christ, as a manifestation of his compassion.

Edwards was one of the most prominent figures in the First Great Awakening, a revival of evangelical religious fervor in the 1730s and 1740s. In the American colonies, the awakening paralleled a similar revival in other Protestant countries, including Scotland, England, and Germany. The movement originated with Presbyterians in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and spread outward—first to New England and the middle colonies and then to the southern colonies. In spreading their message, many clergymen conducted revivals marked...

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Portrait of Jonathan Edwards by Henry Augustus Loop (Yale University Art Gallery)

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