The Colonial Image: Origins of American Culture

By John C. Miller | Go to book overview

Sinners in the Hands of an
Angry God

Jonathan Edwards

When Edwards preached his message of man's infinite depravity and God's infinite power and pictured mankind dangling over the pit of hell, precariously suspended by the "forbearance of an incensed God," the blood of his auditors congealed in their veins. One member of Edwards' congregation declared he confidently expected that as soon as the sermon was finished, the trumpets would sound to proclaim the Last Judgment. The air seemed to reek of sulphur, the flames licked close and the shrieks of the damned were audible. Overwhelmed by a consciousness of sin, reprobacy and the imminence of divine retribution, Edwards' more impressionable parishioners fell to shrieking, jerking and frothing.

Edwards produced this effect by speaking in even, measured tones. Instead of gesturing, he simply "looked on the bell rope until he looked it off." His manner was that of a scientist methodically demonstrating the truth of a theorem by dissecting a worm. In this case, the theorem was the absolute sovereignty of God; the worm was man.

Deut. 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 things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

____________________
Jonathan Edwards: Representative Selections. Edited by Clarence H. Faust and Thomas H. Johnson.

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The Colonial Image: Origins of American Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 9
  • Introduction 15
  • Part I - Arrivals 41
  • The Plymouth Plantation 43
  • A Description of New England 66
  • The New English Canaan 76
  • Letters 77
  • The Crossing to Pennsylvania! 83
  • Part II - Daily Life 99
  • Pirates in Plymouth 101
  • Thomas Morton of Merrymount 103
  • The Merrymount Colony 108
  • Edifying Incidents 113
  • An Exemplary Christian 115
  • Inoculation for Smallpox 118
  • Courtship 132
  • Marriage 141
  • On Taking a Mistress 154
  • The Speech of Polly Baker 156
  • Riding through Virginia 159
  • Part III - God and the Devil 167
  • Religious Tolerance 169
  • In Defence of Intolerance 175
  • Witchcraft in Salem 179
  • Witchcraft in Salem 185
  • Witchcraft in Salem 190
  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman 193
  • Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God 207
  • Personal Narrative 212
  • Part IV - The Indians 221
  • The Indians in Virginia 223
  • Pocahontas 231
  • The Pequot War 239
  • The Pequot War 244
  • Indian Customs and Manners 248
  • Captured by Indians 257
  • Part V - The South 291
  • Virginia 293
  • History of the Dividing Line 310
  • Part VI - Literature 351
  • Anne Bradstreet 353
  • Michael Wigglesworth 357
  • Edward Taylor 367
  • Bacon's Epitaph 370
  • Ebenezer Cook 372
  • Benjamin Franklin 377
  • Part VII - Four Colonial Views 387
  • Itinerarium Dr. Alexander Hamilton 389
  • Autobiography 419
  • Journal 437
  • Letters from an American Farmer 479
  • Bibliography 499
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