On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached what is probably the most famous sermon in American history. Edwards preached his "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" not at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts, but rather as he visited Enfield, Connecticut. Generations have studied the text of this sermon, and many are now appalled, or at least disturbed, at its very descriptive imagery (although I would not include myself in that number). Edwards based his entire sermon on a short passage from Deuteronomy 32, "Their feet shall slide in due time."
Regardless of a person's theological bent, it is hard to argue against the significance of the sermon. First, it was the occasion of a great revival during the Great Awakening, one of the first truly "national" movements. There are accounts of people moaning as Edwards preached, holding on to whatever they could find to keep from falling into Hell at that very moment, and asking what they must do to be saved. Secondly, the sermon is a good example of New England Puritan orthodoxy. Edwards was a staunch Calvinist, and Reformed belief is quite evident in the sermon. However, while the sermon is meant as a warning to wayward sinners, it does indicate that there is hope for the sinner in Christ.
It is somewhat ironic that the greatest theologian and the greatest sermon in American history burst onto the scene before America even existed as a separate nation. Regardless, 270 years ago, Jonathan Edwards, that theologian preached "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," that sermon. It is likely that students of American religion and the Puritans will continue to read and study Edwards and his famous sermon for many years to come. You can, as well, at the link to Yale University's Jonathan Edwards site.