Contemporary accounts of how the congregation in Enfield, Connecticut responded when Edwards preached this sermon indicate that some people "yelled and shrieked, they rolled in the aisles, they crowded up into the pulpit and begged him to stop," and "great moaning & crying out through ye whole House . . . ye shrieks & crys were piercing & Amazing." Clearly, there were some in attendance who found Edwards's words resonant and terrifying when he detailed for them the appalling torments of hell and God's utter disgust with their current state of sinfulness.
Because Edwards ended the sermon with hopeful words that assured his listeners that God was giving them a brief opportunity to mend their ways, it is said that many in the congregation were "jubilant" as they reflected on what they had heard. Edwards was well known throughout New England as a theologian and revivalist during the Great Awakening, and so his very presence as a guest minister that day was a cause for widespread excitement.