Tucked deep in the annals of classic American literature you will find a recorded sermon entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” that literally brought the Thirteen Colonies to it’s knees. This iconic sermon touched off a highly emotional and intense spiritual movement called the Great Awakening that is still legendary in America’s Protestant churches today, with stories of people crying and quaking and holding onto the pillars of the church building at the sound of Edward’s voice lest they faint faint and fall onto the floor.This amazing:”hell fire and damnation” sermon proved to be quite the phenomena that was felt all the way across the sea in England.
So Johnathan Edwards is the man who was credited with being the father of the Revivalist Movement whose lasting effects were still being felt in America well into the 20th century with the rise of such evangelists as Billy Sunday, Dwight L.Moody and Billy Graham, men who emphasized the personal religious fervor of the individual rather than a congregational group think and accepting a personal Christ rather than finding him through the traditional rite of the Eucharist alone. In fact, the outwardly emotional Pentecostal movement with its outward manifestation of the speaking in tongues was also profoundly influenced by this Great Awakening revival.
Edwards was quoted as saying “human beings have done nothing to appease God” and that they will be “burning forever over a fiery pit” unless they experience a “change of heart and accept Christ,” And Edwards artfully used the metaphor of a spider being held over a fire to illustrate how close a living human being is to hell.
Needless to say, this fiery preacher was ultimately rejected by the staid Puritan religious establishment of the day and was finally fired from his pastorate at his church in Northhampton, Massachusetts for his zeal and his strict stance on holy living and his a strict form of church of church discipline that stepped on many toes. So this dedicated and resilient minister went onto become a missionary to the Mohican Native American Indian Tribe, touching off another great spiritual movement in America, the missionary movement. It seems that they just could not keep the down down!
Edwards was born in East Windsor, Massachusetts on October 5, 1668 to his minister father Timothy Edwards and his mother Esther Stoddard, a woman known for her uncanny intelligence and a hardy independence of a woman before her time. But Edwards was actually home schooled by his father and his older sisters and was admitted to Yale University at the tender age of thirteen proving to be quite the child prodigy.In doctrine he was a Calvinist rather than an Arminianism meaning that he believed that God predetermined who would be saved rather than being strictly as matter of man’s free will. He died on March 22, 1758 as the result of an infection stemming from a bad small pox vaccine.