The First Great Awakening
REBIRTH OF RELIGION
Religious Revival Sweeps Colonial America
A Man of God
In 1734-1735, Edwards oversaw some of the initial stirrings of the First Great Awakening. He gained international fame as a revivalist and "theologian of the heart" after publishing descriptions of the awakenings in his parish. The belief of the time was that the essence of religious experience was the "new birth." This "new birth" was inspired by the preaching. It invigorated churches. Jonathan Edwards' sermons became famous for inspiring and invigorating congregations. His sermons emphasized the supreme power of God, the wickedness of humankind, and the reality of hell.
SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD
Saturday, July 8th 1741 at 9pm
New England, USA
The Famous Sermon
- “Sinners” has become the very stuff of American legend; it is one of the most anthologized pieces of writing in America, and it has long been a part of American history and literature. The sermon was brief, but powerful. Although frightening, it was very popular with New England audiences. Edwards was often invited to re-preach the sermon, which he did so frequently that he eventually could recite the sermon almost entirely from memory, with only a small outline to guide him.
- According to Puritan belief, a conversion could occur to cause a person to be truly awakened to God an Christianity. It involved the influence of divine grace. Once converted, a person had a chance of salvation.
- The message of “Sinners” was a familiar and important one for the Puritans. They couldn’t know whether they were truly converted, and they couldn’t make their conversion happen; the most they could do, as Edwards implied, was to make their conversion more likely by living a truly Christian life.
- In order to awaken his audience to the power of God, Edwards evoked vivid images of God’s wrath. Edwards saw preaching as doing God’s will and helping humanity by conveying God’s message to the world in an effective manner.