The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


V. Willison Looks to France as Tenth Part

Another widely circulated reprint was titled A Prophecy o/ the French Revolution, and the Downfall of Antichrist; Being Two Sermons Preached Many Years Ago, by the late Rev. Mr. John Willison, Minister of the Gospel at Dundee. And Now Reprinted From the Original, Which May Be Seen at the Publishers (1793). JOHN WILLISON (1680-1750), Scotch divine, author of the original of this reprint, was born in Stirling, and educated at the University of Glasgow. Licensed by the Presbytery in 1701, he was ordained in 1703, encountering some opposition. In 1705 the former minister took possession of his pulpit, the magistrates refusing help. In 1716 he moved to Dundee, his ministry being marked by controversy. He published an apology for the Church of Scotland in 1719, and in 1733 one of his sermons was published under the title The Church’s Danger. Willison went to Cambuslang to study the revival associated with Whitefield, and returned to his own parish to start a similar movement. In 1745 he published Popery Another Gospel. He was the author of nine principal works. PFF2 728.3


In as much as we have not previously noted this expositor, a brief panorama of his prophetic views is here given. Beginning with the apostolic age, Willison tells how “every Sermon made new Conquests and Additions to the Church, till every City and Corner of the vast Roman Empire was stored with Christians”; 23 then he turns to the “Kingdom of the latter Days, or towards the End of the World, of which Daniel speaks in his Prophecy, Daniel 2:28, 44 and Daniel 7:27.” The stone is the eternal “Kingdom of Christ,” to be established only after “the Days” of the kings which would divide the Fourth Monarchy, or Roman Empire, among them. “This empire was to be divided into ten Kingdoms, called in the Revelation ten Horns, as represented in Daniel 2:41 by the ten Toes of the Feet of the Image.” 24 PFF2 729.1


The last days would be characterized by the overthrow of Babylon or Antichrist, the destruction of the Turkish Empire, the ingathering of the Jews, and the fullness of the Gentiles. Coming directly to the time and circumstance of the “Destruction of Antichrist, or the Papal Power,” promised for the latter days, he observes that “Scripture is more particular, about the Time of its being fulfilled, than any other.” 25 He then proceeds to enumerate the fore runners of Antichrist’s fall and to tell of Christ’s coming to de liver His people from this tyranny. PFF2 729.2

First, there will be a great defection among the churches, an increase of formality, sleepiness of the virgins, and ministers corrupting the glorious doctrines of the gospel. False teachers, infidelity, scoffers, will deride the promise of Christ’s coming to destroy Antichrist. This is caused in part by the mistakes of those who have “prefixed Times for it, that there will remain but little Faith in any about his glorious Appearance for his Church, when behold he is just at the Door.” Thus “Adversaries of the Truth have been much hardened in their Infidelity.” 26 PFF2 729.3


Second, there will be unprecedented world trouble, fear, and distress, as certified by Daniel 12:1. And before Christ’s coming strange sights will appear in the heavens, and on the earth, earthquakes, wars, upheavals, and universal distress, before the deliverance.” 27 Third, when Christ appears, the church’s enemies will be most confident and secure, “particularly when the Romish Harlot is lifted up with pride by her Success,” saying, “I sit a Queen and shall see no Sorrow.” 28 PFF2 730.1


Fourth, the climax of his argument (stated, be it remembered, half a century previous to the reprint of 1793): PFF2 730.2

“Before Antichrist’s Fall, one of the ten Kingdoms which supported the Beast shall undergo a marvellous Revolution, Revelation 11:13. The same Hour there was a great Earthquake, and the tenth Part of the City fell. By which tenth Part, is to be understood one of the ten Kingdoms into which the great City Romish Babylon was divided: This many take to be the Kingdom of France, it being the tenth and last of the Kingdoms as to the Time of its Rise, and that which gave Rome Denomination of the Beast with ten Horns, and also it being the only one of the ten that was never conquered since its Rise. However unlikely this and other prophesied Events may appear at the Time, yet the Almighty Hand of the only wise God can soon bring them about when least expected. Though the Church should be wrapt about with the blackest Clouds and thickest Darkness for a Time, that will be no Stop to God’s great Designs.” 29 PFF2 730.3

Then the compiler and reprinter in the early days of the Revolution concludes, “France was to be cut off from the dominion of Rome. How wonderfully this has been brought about, we have seen.” 30 PFF2 730.4