WILLISON, JOHN, an
eminent divine and religious writer, was born in 1680, and from an early
age was intended by his parents for the church. After completing his
regular course of academical education, he entered on the study of
divinity, and having been duly licensed, he became, in 1703, minister of
Brechin, in consequence of a unanimous call which he received from that
town. Shortly after, the popularity he had acquired by his abilities as
a preacher, with the simplicity and purity of his manners, and the
gentleness and benevolence of his disposition, caused him to be invited
to supply a vacancy at Dundee, where he spent the remainder of his life.
He now took a prominent part in all public discussions regarding
ecclesiastical affairs, and showed himself, in particular, opposed to
the exercise of patronage in the church. Distinguished above many of his
contemporaries by his superior attainments, activity, and zeal, he was
considered in his day the leader of the popular or Evangelical party;
and, in 1735, when the General Assembly resolved to apply to Parliament
for the repeal of the oppressive act of 1712, he and Messrs. Gordon and
Mackintosh were sent to London to attend to this important matter. All
their efforts, however, to procure a repeal of the act proved fruitless,
as have those of many other good men since their time.
Mr. Willison was the
author of several works of a religious nature, which have been long held
in high estimation, a list of which is subjoined. He died at Dundee, in
the bosom of his family, May 3, 1750, in the seventieth year of his age,
and forty-seventh of his ministry. His works are:
Example of Plain Catechising upon the Assemblyís Shorter Catechism. Edin.
Afflicted Manís Companion; or a Directory for Families and Persons
afflicted with Sickness or any other Distress. Edin. 1755, 8vo.
Sacramental Meditations and Advices, grounded upon Scripture-texts,
proper for Communicants to prepare their hearts, excite their
affections, quicken their graces, and enliven their devotion on
sacramental occasions; together with a short Christian Directory,
consisting of forth Scripture directions proper for all Christians
intending Heaven, and a variety of Scripture Songs for Zionís travellers
on their way thither; to which are added, by way of appendix, Three
Sermons. Edin. 1769, 12mo.
The Balm of Gilead.
In 1793 two Sermons, preached by Mr. Willison some time before his
death, ĎOn the Increase of Christís Kingdom,í containing an allusion to
the demoralized state of France, were published at London, under the
title of ĎA Prophecy of the French Revolution and the Downfall of