Jonathan Edwards was a Puritan minister in Northampton, Massachusetts who played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening. One of his great works called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is considered a classic of early American literature. Edwards, as a Puritan, strongly believed in the Doctrine of Predestination. However, when analyzing the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” one can also detect hints of the theory of Arminianism in the underlying meaning. This is because his sermon is based off of giving people the ability to turn to the God and accept his Grace or reject the Grace of God and spend eternity in hell. Thus this sermon both qualifies and compromises the Doctrine of Predestination.
In his sermons Jonathan Edwards starts off his sermon by painting a picture for his congregation of the hell that is expected for them if they do not turn to God. He states that “their foot shall slide in due time,” meaning that as humans we are all born from sin and therefore, they all deserve damnation (Edwards). This vivid imagery was put into place in order to scare those who have not gotten saved, to turn to God and his Grace.
Firstly, it is evident that Edwards upholds the Doctrine of Predestination when he states that it is God’s Graces that keeps them from falling into the fire. This means that it is only God’s Grace that holds them up because “there is no other reason to be given, why [they] have to dropped into hell since [they] arose in the morning, but that God’s will has held [them] up” (Edwards). This sermon quantifies one of the four underlying assumptions about the Doctrine of Predestination by implying that people are held over the pits of hell because they are born into sin and deserve eternal damnation, and the decision of whether to let a person drop into the pits of hell is up to God.
Furthermore, Edward’s sermon follows the Doctrine of Predestination because it fulfills the third and fourth underlying assumption: salvation is by faith, and faith is a gift from God. This can be seen in the tenth “consideration” stated by Edwards when he states that those that are “contained in the covenant of grace, the premise that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen” (Edwards). Therefore, God has never promised to save people from hell, only those that are contained in Christ though the covenant of Grace.
However, there are some key aspects to his sermon that do not uphold the Doctrine of Predestination. This is...