Further, he describes hell as a bottomless pit, which seems to be a different analogy than either fire or storm. The interpreter need not find some way to make the metaphors fit together. Rather, it seems better to recognize that the preacher is stressing the horror of the destruction which is, apart from the sovereign pleasure of God, imminently threatening the wicked.
Edwards continues with another metaphor for divine destruction, one which is even more difficult to reconcile with the description of hell as a bottomless pit of fire. The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given, and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose.
To the imagery of a lake of fire, a bottomless pit, a violent wind storm, and a tidal wave of destruction, Edwards adds another graphic picture of the impending destruction of the wicked. Again, it seems unnecessary, and perhaps not even possible, to treat these images of destruction as synonyms or as overlapping pictures of the reality of divine judgment.
Rather, this master communicator clearly appears to be using a variety of metaphors to stress the horrors of the destiny of the wicked, not intending to describe the actual nature of that destruction.
The Hands of the Living GOD.
One might even surmise from the multiple metaphors that Edwards finds the language itself limiting, that hell is much worse than any of the analogies he can find in the natural world. That it is horrible and perhaps even too horrible for words seems to be his penultimate point. Ultimately, however, the sermon stresses the grace of God who, for reasons known only to him, has to this point kept the wicked from experiencing this horrible destruction which they deserve.
This passage is often read by critics of Edwards as if God is pictured as a cruel and sadistic child taking perverse pleasure in the torture of a helpless insect. That is certainly to push the analogy too far, to fail to understand the literary use of the figure, to launch the interpretation past the edge of propriety.
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But, more significantly, it is to miss the clear declaration of divine grace even here. That the sinner has not yet fallen into the fire of hell, which he justly deserves, is due only to the mere pleasure of a sovereign and gracious God. 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 so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.
You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince: In this description of the fate of the wicked, Edwards again mixes two metaphors, a bottomless pit and a fiery furnace, when he continues,. Consider the fearful danger you are in: The critics of Edwards are correct in noting that he stresses the fierceness and fury of the wrath of God. Without hesitation or apology, he argues from the lesser to the greater. The time is coming when it will be withheld and only his wrath will be poured out on the unregenerate. The punishment awaiting the wicked is not simply the terrible wrath of an infinite God, but it is also an 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: So that your punishment will indeed be infinite.
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Edwards then shifts the emphasis of the sermon to a series of pleas for the audience to respond to God in faith and thus avoid the wrath of God which awaits them as long as they remain in their current unregenerate state. In this extended passage, the compassionate heart of the pastor is clearly heard. There is no hint of glee in speaking of hell. There is no flippancy in describing the punishment that awaits the wicked. There is no cold-hearted cruelty in his words.
There is, rather, a tone of godly sorrow and compassion as he speaks what he knows to be the truth. When delivered originally to his church in Northampton, Edwards is addressing a congregation he knows very well and his pastoral heart is grieved as he looks over the audience. How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in 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. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old.
There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have: If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him!
Instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it be a wonder if some that are now present, should not be in hell in a very short time, before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some person that now sits here in some seat of this meetinghouse in health, and quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning.
Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell the longest, will be there in a little time! You have reason to wonder, that you are not already in hell. The appeal continues with an emphasis on the provision God has made for mercy and a reminder of the blessings which are available. And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door 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 for the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are in now an happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him that 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? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of Kings? Syntax Repository Download syntax files and recreate popular religious schemes in survey data. Measurement Wizard Browse concepts used in the study of religion, review how survey researchers measured them in the past, and quickly compare the results of more than 7, survey questions.
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Sinners in the Hands of a Gracious God -- By: Glenn R. Kreider
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Subscribe to the ARDA: The Hand is for working , and for striking if need be; for expedite and lively working, and for terrible striking. In both respects it intimates a life the most active imaginable. TO be sure nothing like mens hands, and much less the lifeless carved hands of an Image. God has no hands nor bodily parts, is not flesh and blood as we are; but He is an Infinite Essence , the Immense Spirit , filling heaven and earth. When he shewed his Glory to the Elders of Israel , they saw no similitude.
And accord ingly by the hands of the living God we must understand,. In his hands are the deep places of the earth, the strength of the hills is his also: He holdeth the waters in the hollow of his hand, and in it is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord? And there is also his " correcting hand which is necessary, good and beneficial; and his wrathful hand which is fearful, dreadful and terrible.
BY the hands of the living God is meant in my text his Justice , power and wrath , which are against all them that provoke him His wrathful anger takes hold of them , Psalm You read of these hands, Deut. I lift up my hand to heaven and swear, I live for ever! O see there the fearful hand of the living God! These are the Hands that smite and wound, and tear and rend to pieces what ever stands in the way of his Holiness.
God's wrath in temporal Judgments is his fearful hand: The hand of the Lord was against them of Ashdod, and he smote them with emerods and destroyed them. But how much more is there the fearful hand of God in spi ritual and eternal judgments? In temporal and outward punish ments God often uses the Hands of men ; and these must be light and small in comparison of his own wrath immediately impressed and in flicted upon a poor Soul.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The immediate, infinite and eternal Vengeance of God is the thing here spoken of; the vials of his wrath in the next life, not the few scalding drops of it in this only. And O the hand , the power and force of this vindic tive wrath!
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This future and everlasting misery of apostate and impenitent sinners "comes from God's own hand. This they shall have of God's hand, to ly down in sorrows for ever; endless and insup portable.
Sinners in the Hands of a Gracious God -- By: Glenn R. Kreider | Galaxie Software
Their destruction shall come from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. BUT this for the meaning of God's hand in the Text. IT cannot mean or suppose that we are ever out of his hand. No, we are always in it; both Saints and Sinners are so. All his Saints are in his hand , the hand of his Mercy, power and grace; and all his enemies are in the strong hand of his Justice. Whither can we go from his Spirit?
If we take the wings of the morn ing and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall his hand lead us, and his right hand shall hold us. THERE is indeed a falling into the hands of Divine wisdom and goodness , grace and mer cy; a casting our selves into them, and God's taking us into them. Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great. We must look to the helping and saving hand of God, and say, Hold thou me up and I shall be safe! Into thy hand I commit my Spirit!
BUT sinners fall into the hand of Divine justice , when it lays hold of them to punish them for their iniquities; when it falls upon them as it were to slay them. When God judges sinners in his righteous and terrible Providence, or when his wrath falls upon their Consciences, or when Death arrests them to carry them in their impenitence to the Judg ment seat of Christ , and to the place of ever lasting torments; then, then do they fall into hand of the living God.
When God says to evil angels, or to death, or to the tormentors after death, as David did to the young man, Go fall upon this Amalekite; And he smote him that he died. It is as when one falls into the hand of a powerful Enemy ; or rather as when a Criminal falls into the hand of Justice, and it is arrested, arraigned, convicted, condemned to die and executed.
And not seldom they fall into the hand of his Judgments here in this life, both as to soul and body. But it is especially at Death and in the day of Judgment , that they fall into the hand of the living God. Then it is laid upon them, lays hold of them, holds them fast, and falls upon them. This is the Second death.
WHY is it so fearful a thing to fall into the hand of the living God? Because the power and wrath of God is in finite and insupportable. Because it is eter nal and everlasting. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? It is infinitely beyond all that we can fear or ap prehend. Thou, even Thou art to be feared, and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burnt up at his presence; yea the world and all that dwell therein: Who can stand before his indignation?
The wrath of an earthly King is as the roar ing of a lion ; but to what can we compare the wrath of the Infinite God? How terrible was the wrath of the King, which the three Wor thies among the Children of Israel feared not, tho' it raged against them? Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Me shach and Abednego; therefore he spake and com manded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heat; And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
This is but a little image of the fierceness of the wrath of God, which will cast sinners into the pit that burneth with fire and brimstone. THE wrath and vengeance of the living God is Eternal and Everlasting ; and this it is that renders it so fearful a thing to fall into his hand. The living God lives for ever to punish.
He can and will inflict wrath for ever and ever. He lives to uphold the Soul under everlasting Sufferings. IT is true that he could annihilate the Soul, and bring it to nothing: But he has made it immortal, made it for immortality, and it cannot die, it shall live for ever, tho' in in supportable torments.
GOD is unchangeable Truth, and inflexible Holiness. He has sworn and will not repent. The living God is not like indolent Idols. He has hands and uses them. And all his power and anger is in everlasting activity against the wicked. He will what his sword, he hath bent his bow and made it ready; he hath also prepared for him the instruments of death. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup.
THE living God inflicts eternal death on those whom he damns. The eternal damna tion of the wicked proceeds from eternal life in Him. The Sentence therefore runs thus; Mat. Depart from Me ye cursed into everlasting fire. The living God passes this Sentence, and he lives for ever to see it exe cuting, through all the ages of Eternity.
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Who shall be punished with ever lasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. THE damned after the Day of Judgment will be as much in the wrathful hands of the living God as they were before. The hand that casts them into hell will hold them down therein.
Hell is naked before him and destruction hath no covering. THIS destruction from the Almighty should be indeed a terror to us. It is revealed to us for this end, in so many fearful and terrifying descriptions. In danger of Eternal damnation. O what a danger, what a hazard is that? He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
The chaff is such dry stuff that though it yield a vehement and fierce flame, yet it is presently over and out. There's oil eno' in guilt, such as it is, to feed the flames for ever.