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Edwards begins by discussing a passage from Deuteronomy, "Their feet shall slide in due time." In his exegesis of this passage, he extrapolates several conclusions: First, that people are always exposed to destruction; second, that this destruction will be sudden; third, that they will fall of their own free will; and finally, that the only reason they have not fallen yet is because "God's appointed time is not come." From this, Edwards proceeds to the conclusion that "there is nothing that keeps wicked Men, at any one moment, out of Hell, but the meer Pleasure of God." From this, he progresses to a description of the precariousness of Man's place, and emphasizing that whatever horrible punishment Man receives, it is deserved, and God is all-powerful to dispense it:
They deserve to be cast into Hell; so that divine Justice never stands in the way, it makes no Objection against God's using his Power at any moment to destroy them.
The point of this progression from a single passage in Deuteronomy is to emphasize man's total dependence on God. Only by appealing to God's mercy could man rescue his soul from the precipice. Edwards aimed to encourage backsliding New Englanders to reexamine and reinvigorate their faith.
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