What does the biblical allusion at the end of Jonathan Edwards's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" mean?

At the end of his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Edwards alludes to the warning given to Lot before the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19:17. This reference emphasizes the wickedness of his hearers, the justice of God's wrath, and the urgency of the situation. However, the flight of Edwards's congregation is to be metaphorical, since they are to escape the wrath of God by accepting Christ.

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In Genesis 19:17, the angels give Lot the following advice:

Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

It is to this passage that Jonathan Edwards alludes at the end of his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" when he tells his congregation,

Escape for your lives, Look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.

The allusion to Sodom is appropriate, since Edwards has been telling his congregation for the entire length of the sermon how wicked they are and how thoroughly justified is the wrath of God which might strike them at any moment. The allusion reinforces not only the justice of God's anger—and the vileness of the people's sins—but also the sense of urgency in the sermon, since physical destruction came quickly upon Sodom, and Lot had to flee for his life.

However, as Edwards has just been telling them, the congregation has a marvelous opportunity, which was not open to Lot....

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 933 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on September 23, 2020