“From Sinners in the Hands of an
Sermon by Jonathan Edwards
We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is
easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his
enemies down to hell….
They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that
is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in
whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who
there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth:
yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who
are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that
he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine
him to be so. The wrath of God bums against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made
ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held
over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them….
Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable
places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly
unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men
out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense
of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment….
So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they
have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards
them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing
in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment;
the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on
them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any
Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take
The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends
the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without
any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that
never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never
born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced
light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had
religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing
but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction….
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome
insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as
worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten
thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely
more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire
every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake
again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped
into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you
have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of
attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop
down into hell.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide
and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and
incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine
wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator,
and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you
ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment….
It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness
and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible
misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your
thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any
rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting
with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you
in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh,
who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very
feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?"
How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great
wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however
moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be….
And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of
mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him,
and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately
in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has
loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to
be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing
and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can
you rest one moment in such a condition?...
Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come….