Monday, June 7, 2010

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Well here it is Monday again and as is our habit I want to present an old dead guy, Jonathan Edwards.  Perhaps his best know sermon is up for consideration today, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God which we will present in parts.  But first a brief bio on Edwards:

Jonathan Edwards, born on October 5, 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut was the son of Timothy Edwards and Esther Stoddard the only son out of eleven (ouch) children.  He of course was a preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans.  Edwards is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian, and one of America's greatest intellectuals.  Edwards's theological work is very broad in scope ranging from his defense of Reformed theology to the metaphysics of theological determinism, and the Puritan heritage.  Edwards played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening, and oversaw some of the first fires of revival in 1733-1735 at his church in NorthamptonMassachusetts.  
Edwards's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," is considered a classic of early American literature, which he delivered during another wave of revival in 1741, following George Whitefield's tour of the Thirteen Colonies.  Edwards is widely known for his many books: The End For Which God Created the WorldThe Life of David Brainerd, which served to inspire thousands of missionaries throughout the nineteenth century; and Religious Affections, which many Reformed Evangelicals read even today.  Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later to be named Princeton University), and was the grandfather of Aaron Burr.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Deuteronomy 32:35, "Their foot shall slide in due time."

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 ver.  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 doings, 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 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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post on Edwards. I'm not sure if I've ever read anything about or by Edwards that has disappointed me.