Sermon Illustrations

Jonathan Edwards, who was one of America's greatest theologians, was a New England pastor of the 1700s. Edwards was brilliant. At age 6 he studied Latin. He entered Yale when not quite 13 and graduated when barely 15. He was ordained at 19, taught at Yale by 20 and later became president of Princeton. Harvard granted him both a bachelor's and a master's degree on the same day.

But he is best known for Sinners In The Hands of an Angry God - the most famous sermon in American history. He preached it on Sunday, July 8th, 1741 while ministering in tiny Enfield, Connecticut. A group of women had spent the previous night praying for revival. When Edwards rose to speak, he quietly announced his text was Deuteronomy 32:35 "... their foot shall slide in due time." This "hellfire and brimstone" approach was somewhat a departure for Edwards. Of his thousand written sermons, less than a dozen are of this type. Edwards neither gestured nor raised his voice. He spoke softly and simply, warning the unconverted that they were dangling over hell like a spider over the fire.

"O sinner! Consider the fearful danger. The unconverted are now walking over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there innumberable places in this covering so weak that it will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen."

Edwards' voice was suddenly lost amid cries and commotion from the crowd. He paused, appealing for calm. Then he concluded: "Let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom."

Strong men held to pews and posts, feeling they were sliding into hell. Others shook uncontrollably and rolled on the floor. Throughought the night cries of men and women were heard throughout the village, begging God to save them. Five hundred were converted that evening, sparking a revival that swept thousands into the kingdom. The Great Awakening had come.

Robert Morgan Preacher's Sourcebook for Creative Sermon Illustrations

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