Full text of American theologian Jonathan Edwards’ sermon: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” which was preached on July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Massachusetts (now Connecticut).
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(Jonathan Edwards Sermon):
The text is from that great book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 32 and verse 35:
“To Me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: For the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.“
In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked, unbelieving Israelites that were God’s visible people, and who lived under means of grace; and that notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works that He had brought towards that people. Yet they remained, as is expressed in verse 28: ‘void of counsel, having no understanding in them. And that under all the cultivations of heaven brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit, as in the two verses next preceding the text.
The expression that I have chosen for my text, “their foot shall slide in due time”, seems to imply the following things relating to the punishment and destruction that these wicked Israelites were exposed to.
Firstly, it implies that they were always exposed to destruction, as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destructions coming upon them, being represented by their foots sliding.
This same thought is expressed in Psalm 73:18: ‘Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places, Thou castedst them down into destruction.’
Secondly, it implies that they were always exposed to sudden, unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he can’t foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning.
This is also expressed in the same Psalm 73, but verse 19: ‘Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places, Thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment?’
Another thing that is implied is that they are liable to fall by themselves without being thrown down by the hand of another. As he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.
And it also implies that the reason why they are not fallen already and don’t fall now, is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said that when that due time or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide.
Then they shall be left to fall as they are inclined by their own weight. God won’t hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go. And then at that very instant they shall fall into destruction, as he that stands in such slippery, declining ground on the edge of a pit, that he can’t stand alone, and when he is let go, he immediately falls and is lost.
The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this: there is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell but the mere pleasure of God. By the mere pleasure of God, I mean, His sovereign pleasure, His arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.