The sacramental theology and practice of the Reverend John Willison (1680-1750)
John Willison (1680-1750) was a leading Evangelical in the Church of Scotland, whose prolific writing had a pronounced sacramental emphasis, at a time when the Lord's Supper was infrequently celebrated. The thesis aims to examine his sacramental theology and practice. Chapter one reconstructs his 'roots' and considers the influence of family, home church and university on his thinking. Ministries at Brechin and Dundee are outlined and his publications are placed in context. Chapter two examines his adherence to the federal scheme of theology. Willison is shown to identify three covenants, which he understands as having a contractual basis. Consideration is given to his stance on the Marrow Controversy, and to areas of agreement and disagreement with the Marrow men. Chapter three examines his sacramental theology which is based on that of the Westminster Confession. His adherence to federalism is shown to result in his assertion that the sacrament is not a 'converting ordinance', his emphasis that it is a seal of the believer's faith and a badge of Christian profession, and his rigorous 'fencing' of the table. Consideration is also given to his positive stress on the sacrament as a means of grace, and to his teaching on the 'real presence' of Christ. Chapter four analyses the form, style and content of Willison's preaching, and his aversion to that of the Moderates. His sacramental sermons, prayers, 'fencing' of the table and table addresses are examined and compared with those of contemporaries from both parties.