Explain the allusion to Sodom in Edwards's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."

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And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. (Genesis 19:17)

This is the passage that the 18th century American preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards is referencing in his most famous and anthologized sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which he delivered in 1741. It is a grim sermon that reminds people that they are abject sinners (a doctrine key to Calvinism), that they deserve hell and damnation, and that it is only by God's grace, which they are unworthy of, that they are saved.

Edwards, in the conclusion of his sermon, says, "Let everyone fly out of Sodom. Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed." The allusion to Sodom works on several levels. Sodom was an ancient city, along with Gomorrah, which has since become a byword for wickedness and immortality, homosexuality in particular. In the Biblical story, God has passed judgement on Sodom and plans to destroy it, but the patriarch Abraham asks him to spare it if he can find righteous men. God sends two angels to the city, who are taken in by Lot, Abraham's nephew. The men of the city come to Lot's house and ask for the angels, stating, "Bring them out to us, that we may know them."

Lot refuses, but not before offering up his daughters to the men, and the town is doomed. Lot and his family are the only ones who are spared, and they escape—but, famously, his wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. Edwards knows his audience will be familiar with the allusion and is urging them to leave evil and flee towards the good.

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