Jonathan Edwards' sermon was delivered to a congregation in Enfield, Connecticut during a time when it was widely believed that many Congregationalists had become comfortable in their own salvation, and thus insufficiently zealous. Edwards, like many other ministers often identified with the Great Awakening, hoped to win back, or more accurately reinvigorate these lapsed church members. The sermon itself was a comment on Deuteronomy 32:35, which read "Their feet shall slide in due time," and Edwards' strategy was to portray man, inherently evil, as being constantly in danger of immediate destruction:
There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.
The only thing, Edwards averred, that caused God to forbear was his mercy, and he emphasized that unless the members of the congregation turned to Christ, they could be cut loose, like a spider hanging from a string, to descend into the pit of Hell. There was, ultimately, hope, but first people had to understand how immediate the danger was.