Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Some loathsome insect over the fire..."

Do you ever wonder, in this day and age of seek-friendly churches, how some of the greatest preachers in history would fare?

The following is an excerpt from Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. I would strongly encourage the reader to read the whole sermon, as a tiny excerpt does not do it justice.
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. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

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 were 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.


  1. Oh, but you see, God's perfection has a little problem:

    Matthew 5:43  ¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

  2. Your entire article can basically be summed up in one simple phrase:

    For God so hateth the world, that He gave His Only-Begotten Son...

    Sounds familiar?

  3. Lvka, first off, this article is not my own, but a quotation from Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest Christian minds to ever live.

    Second: you claim this gospel is, "God hates the world." No, God does not hate "the world" as if he has a long list of people he hates with a human-like passion. Rather, God hates unrighteousness, which the entire world is filled with.

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. [Rom 1:18; ESV]

    What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." [Rom 3:9-12; ESV]

    Furthermore, your comments forget that, although God hates unrighteousness, it is this same God who has, through sacrifice, allowed the mode of righteousness to be given for mankind. The sermon by Edwards goes on near the end to say: "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."

    Salvation from unrighteousness is in Christ. That is what Edwards is saying. That is a very scriptural argument to make in a sermon. Did God send His Son because He hated the world? If He hated the world, He would never have sent His Son.

  4. I think you and this guy might have a lot in common.

  5. Lvka, I think it is a very dangerous thing to assume something without reading the entire sermon. I believe that's why Tony posted a link to it. The point in Edwards' preaching was to instill in his listeners the absolute hatred God has for wickedness and His gracious mercy even to those who are His enemies ("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").

    The entire sermon was to call people to repentance and faith in Christ, something long forgotten in this day and age.

    Blessings to you,

  6. It's been 10 years since I read that work from Edwards, an ex girlfriend made me read. To be truthful, I kinda have mixed feelings about Edwards.

    As seen here:
    Was Jonathan Edwards a Racist?