Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

The Congregation Character Analysis

The congregants of a church in Enfield, Connecticut are the audience of Edwards’ sermon. While the ideas of the Great Awakening—a Protestant revival that emphasized individual religious experience and the necessity of salvation through Christ—were sweeping New England in the 1740s, this congregation had been stubbornly immune to accepting the new religious fervor, and Edwards was enlisted to convert them. Edwards repeatedly insists that, while the congregants might be arrogantly confident in their religious faith and their ultimate ascension to heaven, many of them would be unpleasantly surprised to find themselves in hell due to their improper beliefs and practices. As such, Edwards implores them to change their ways before it’s too late. The members of the congregation were reportedly terrified by Edwards’ sermon, interrupting him constantly to ask what they might do to avoid the horrible fate he described. When Edwards says “you” in the sermon, he is referring to the congregation.

The Congregation Quotes in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

The Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God quotes below are all either spoken by The Congregation or refer to The Congregation . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God published in 2013.
Part 1 Quotes

Yea God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth, yea doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, that it may be are at ease and quiet, than he is with many of those that are now in the flames of hell.

Related Characters: Jonathan Edwards (speaker), God, The Congregation
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

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But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in their confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow.

Related Characters: Jonathan Edwards (speaker), God, The Congregation
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:

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Part 2. Application Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Jonathan Edwards (speaker), God, The Congregation
Related Symbols: Vermin
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

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That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies that he will inflict wrath without any pity: when God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportion’d to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed and sinks down, as it were into an infinite gloom, he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much, in any other sense than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires: nothing shall be with held, because it’s so hard for you to bear.

Related Characters: Jonathan Edwards (speaker), God, The Congregation
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Congregation Character Timeline in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

The timeline below shows where the character The Congregation appears in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
Language and Metaphor Theme Icon
Theology and the Human Condition  Theme Icon
...in hell. Edwards states that God is doubtless angrier with some people in this very congregation (though those people likely have a false sense of safety) than he is with “those... (full context)
Part 2. Application
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
For every person in the congregation that is “unconverted” (not with Christ), “there is nothing between you and Hell” except the... (full context)
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
Language and Metaphor Theme Icon
Theology and the Human Condition  Theme Icon
Edwards tells the congregation that if they are sinners then they are a burden to the earth. God’s creatures... (full context)
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
Language and Metaphor Theme Icon
Theology and the Human Condition  Theme Icon
...so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.” The congregation has offended God unimaginably, and yet it is only God’s will that keeps them from... (full context)
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
Language and Metaphor Theme Icon
Edwards urges the congregation to consider what danger they are in: they “hang by a slender thread” over flames... (full context)
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
Theology and the Human Condition  Theme Icon
Edwards notes that God is ready to pity the congregation, as today “is a day of mercy.” Once this day of mercy is past, though,... (full context)
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
...good his love is and how terrible is his wrath. Thus, the sinners in the congregation might expect to be made an example of: in a state of “suffering the infinite... (full context)
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
...terrible state to be in danger of experiencing such wrath, and every person in the congregation who has not been born again is in exactly this danger, regardless of how moral... (full context)
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
Language and Metaphor Theme Icon
While those already in hell cannot change their circumstances, the congregation has been given a remarkable opportunity to be saved, one that those in hell would... (full context)
Power and Precariousness Theme Icon
Wrath, Mercy, and Grace Theme Icon
Theology and the Human Condition  Theme Icon
...this “season of the pouring out of God’s spirit.” One last time, Edwards implores the congregation to “now awake and fly from the wrath of God…lest you be consumed.” (full context)