God Never Promised to Keep any Natural Man from Hell

Below is a fearful thought from Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. I am so thankful that God is perfectly just and holy, and this leads to the existence of a place called Hell. I’m am much more thankful that God is a God of grace and mercy (Rom 8:1 says it all)!

I’ve updated Edwards’ words into modern English:

Consider also the reality that God has never promised to keep any man (in his natural state) out of hell. Not even for one moment. He has placed himself under no obligation to protect people in this way.

Furthermore, the only promise he has made concerning eternal life is contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ. He has made no other promise to grant eternal life, or to deliver people from eternal death, or preserve them from it. Only in Christ are the promises of God yes and amen. But the wicked certainly have no interest in the promises of this covenant of grace. This is because they are not the children of the covenant and they do not believe any of the promises.

Plus, the wicked have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant. Some have imagined and pretended that God’s promises are effectual for a man in his natural state, if that man is truly earnest in his seeking and knocking. But it is visibly clear that God is under no obligation to keep such a person from eternal destruction, not even for one moment. It doesn’t matter how religious the man is or how many prayers he makes. Until he believes in Christ, God is not obligated in any way to protect him.

So, here is the situation. People, in their natural state, are held in the hand of God over the pit of hell. They deserve the fiery pit and are sentenced to it already. God is dreadfully provoked by these wicked people. His anger is just as great towards them as it is towards those who are already in hell actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath. These people have done nothing in the least to appease or abate God’s anger. Neither is God bound in the least to hold them up, even for a moment. He has made no promise at all to do so. The devil awaits them and hell is gaping for them. The flames below gather and flash about them, desiring to take them and swallow them up.

Meanwhile, the fire pent up in their hearts is also struggling to break out. Furthermore, they have no interest in any Mediator. And there are no means within their reach that can provide them security. In short, they have no refuge. They have nothing to take hold of. The only thing preserving them each second is the mere arbitrary will of an angry God. His forbearance towards the wicked comes without covenant and without obligation.

Later in the sermon, Edwards encourages his hearers to flee from this coming wrath by running into the arms of Christ. Why should we be consumed by the fierce and just wrath of God for eternity, when Jesus Christ has come to deliver us?