Keith Shull_"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" Study Guide


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This document was created for an online 8th grade American History course. I wrote all commentary, discussion questions, etc.

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Keith Shull_"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" Study Guide

  1. 1. The English Colonies Primary SourceExerpt from“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”by Jonathan EdwardsABOUT THE READINGReligion was important in the lives of early Americancolonists. Many of them came to America for religiousfreedom. Within a few generations, however, theirreligious devotion and passion had faded. Beginning inthe 1730s, ministers began to hold religious meetingsknown as revivals. Because of these meetings, a periodof religious renewal began in many peoples lives. Areligious revival known as the Great Awakening swept thecolonies.One of the most important Christian ministers of this timewas Jonathan Edwards. He thought of God as powerfuland holy while people were sinful and in need of some-one or something to save them from their sinful natures.In Edwards eyes, sin offended Gods holiness andneeded to be punished. He wanted people to feel what itwas like to be at God’s mercy. And yet he also saw Godas gracious. His sermons spoke of Gods offer of forgive-ness to those who genuinely repented of their sin.VOCABULARYrepented- felt sorrow for sin and changed ones lifepleasure- a specific desire or purposebrandished- waved (a weapon) threateninglyarbitrary- based on individual preferenceobligation- requirement or sense of dutycovenant- a binding agreement or contractwrath- angermediator- one who brings peace between peopleinduce- convinceunregenerate- unconvertedexecute- carry out or put into effectdiscourse- lecture or sermonNOTEWhen used in reference to God, the words he, him, and his are capitalized in Edwards original sermon, but theyare not capitalized in the notes and comments. Until the late 20th century, pronouns referring to Christ or God weregenerally capitalized as a sign of respect toward God.As you read note how Edwards focuses on two things:1) It is only the hand of God that keeps you out of hell.2) It is importance to repent and be saved.SS081CA Social Studies 8A for CA Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Ver. 1.0 (07/12)—Page 1 of 5Copyright © 2012 by Flip Switch. All rights reserved
  2. 2. … There is nothing that keeps wicked men atany one moment out of hell, but the merepleasure of God …They deserve to be cast into hell… justicecalls aloud for an infinite punishment of theirsins. …. The sword of divine justice is everymoment brandished over their heads, and itis nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy,and Gods mere will, that holds it back…God has laid himself under no obligation, byany promise to keep any natural man out ofhell one moment. God certainly has made nopromises either of eternal life, or of any deliv-erance or preservation from eternal death, butwhat are contained in the covenant of grace,the promises that are given in Christ ….The use of this awful subject may be forawakening unconverted persons in this con-gregation. This that you have heard is thecase of every one of you that are out of Christ. That world of misery, that lake of burningbrimstone, is extended abroad under you.There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flamesof the wrath of God; there is hells widegaping mouth open; and you have nothing tostand upon, nor any thing to take hold of;there is nothing between you and hell but theair; it is only the power and mere pleasure ofGod that holds you up. …… You find you are kept out of hell, but do notsee the hand of God in it; [you] look at otherthings: the good state of your bodily constitu-tion, your care of your own life, and themeans you use for your own preservation. Butindeed these things are nothing ; if Godshould withdraw His hand, they would availno more to keep you from falling, than the thinair to hold up a person that is suspended init….The English Colonies Primary SourceJust like a judge requires that acrime is punished, Godsjustice requires that sin ispunished.God has made no promises of eternallife except for those who believe inChrist and obey Gods word.Those who are "out of Christ"have never repented of their sinand given their lives to Christ.You are focused on worldly things and think thatthey are what keep you alive, but it is really Godwho does so, and it is only Gods goodness andGod’s hand that keeps you out of hell.SS081CA Social Studies 8A for CA Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Ver. 1.0 (07/12)—Page 2 of 5Copyright © 2012 by Flip Switch. All rights reserved
  3. 3. The God that holds you over the pit of hell, muchas one holds a spider, or some loathsome insectover the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfullyprovoked: His wrath towards you burns like fire;He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, butto be cast into the fire; He is of purer eyes than tobear to have you in His sight; you are ten thou-sand times more abominable in His eyes, thanthe most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. Youhave offended Him infinitely more than ever astubborn rebel did His prince; and yet it is nothingbut His hand that holds you from falling into thefire every moment … And there is no otherreason to be given, why you have not droppedinto hell since you arose in the morning, but thatGods hand has held you up…O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in:it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottom-less pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are heldover in the hand of that God. ... You hang by aslender thread, with the flames of divine wrathflashing about it, and ready every moment tosinge it, and burn it asunder; and you have nointerest in any Mediator , and nothing to lay holdof to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flamesof wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that youhave ever done, nothing that you can do, toinduce God to spare you one moment…Consider this, you that are here present that yetremain in an unregenerate state. That God willexecute the fierceness of His anger implies thatHe will inflict wrath without any pity. When Godbeholds the ... extremity of your case, and seesyour torment to be so vastly disproportionate toyour strength, and sees how your poor soul iscrushed, and sinks down, as it were, into aninfinite gloom; He will have no compassion uponyou … He will have no regard to your welfare,nor be at all careful … should [you] suffer toomuch in any other sense, than only that you shallnot suffer beyond what strict justice requires.The English Colonies Primary SourceYour sin offends God, whose holiness and puritycannot bear to look upon sinful humanity. However,Gods mercy keeps you from falling into the fire of hell.Your life hangs by a thread that can be burned up by God’sanger. Nothing you have or have done can save you, andyou aren’t interested in using a mediator to save you.In Christian teaching, Christ is themediator between humanity and God.Even when God sees that you are sufferingmore than you can bear, he will not rescueyou; he knows that you deserve punishment.Gods justice requires that you bepunished, but you will not suffermore than what his justice requires.SS081CA Social Studies 8A for CA Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Ver. 1.0 (07/12)—Page 3 of 5Copyright © 2012 by Flip Switch. All rights reserved
  4. 4. How dreadful is the state of those that are daily andhourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinitemisery! But this is the dismal case of every soul inthis congregation that has not been born again,however moral and strict, sober and religious, theymay otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it,whether you be young or old! There is reason tothink that there are many in this congregation nowhearing this discourse that will actually be thesubject of this very misery to all eternity. We knownot who they are, or in what seats they sit, or whatthoughts they now have. It may be they are now atease, and hear all these things without much distur-bance, and are now flattering themselves that theyare not the persons, promising themselves thatthey shall escape. If they knew that there was oneperson, and but one, in the whole congregation,that was to be the subject of this misery, what anawful thing would it be to think of! ... How might allthe rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable andbitter cry over him! …And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, aday wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercywide open, and stands in calling and crying with aloud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many areflocking to Him, and pressing into the kingdom ofGod. Many are daily coming from the east, west,north and south; many that were very lately in thesame miserable condition that you are in are no ina happy state, with their hearts filled with love toHim who has loved them, and washed them fromtheir sins in His own blood, and rejoicing in hope ofthe glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind atsuch a day! … How can you rest one moment insuch a condition?The English Colonies Primary SourceAnyone who has not been reborn to faith inChrist is in danger of suffering for all eternity.Everyone would cry for the sakeof even one person who was indanger of being punished by God.Many former sinners from all over arebeing saved by the love of Christ.SS081CA Social Studies 8A for CA Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Ver. 1.0 (07/12)—Page 4 of 5Copyright © 2012 by Flip Switch. All rights reserved
  5. 5. The English Colonies Primary SourceTHINK ABOUT IT1. According to Edwards, why are his listeners deserving of hell?2. According to Edwards, why are his listeners still alive and not dropped into hell?3. How does Edwards speak to people who think they are safe from God’s wrath?4. How does Edwards try to convince his listeners to become saved?5. How does Edwards contrast Gods justice and wrath with God’s mercy and love?SS081CA Social Studies 8A for CA Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Ver. 1.0 (07/12)—Page 5 of 5Copyright © 2012 by Flip Switch. All rights reserved