Predictions of the French Revolution

The “Earthquake” of Revelation 11:13 from Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers

by Le Roy Froom

The Storming of the BastilleThe papal reaction of the seventeenth century was followed by the French Revolution of the eighteenth. For more than a century before the Revolution developed, a line of expositors of the Protestant Historical School not only had predicted from the prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse the approaching end of the 1260 years of the ecclesiastic supremacy of the Papacy, but had set forth France as the probable instrument, and infidelity as the possible means of the coming overthrow. When, therefore, the French Revolution broke forth in 1789, not only did new writers solemnly discourse on contemporary fulfilling prophecy, but various compilations of past statements were assembled and printed. Let us note them.

Towers Reprints Imposing List of Predictions

Joseph Lomas Towers (1767-1831)*1 furnishes an example, with his illustrations of Prophecy, based on predictions in Daniel and Revelation of “A Revolution in France” and “The Overthrow of the Papal Power, and of Ecclesiastical Tyranny.” In this unusual treatise there is allusion to and citation of expositors in this imposing list, spreading back over a hundred and fifty years:

  1. Brightman(1644)
  2. Durham(1660)
  3. Mede(1663)
  4. More(1680)
  5. Goodwin(1683)
  6. Jurieu(1687)
  7. Cradock(1696)
  8. Fleming(1701)
  9. Whiston(1706)
  10. Waple(1715)
  11. Vitringa(1719)
  12. Daubuz(1720)
  13. Robertson(1730)
  14. Pyle(1735)
  15. Lowman(1745)
  16. Bishop Newton(1748)
  17. Johnson(1794).*2

We note but one – Thomas Newton’s (1704-1782) widely quoted observation on France, which was this:

“Rome therefore will finally be destroyed by some of the princes, who are reformed, or shall be reformed from popery: and as the kings of France have contributed greatly to her advancement, it is not impossible,nor improbable, that some time or other they may also be the principal authors of her destruction. France hath already shown some tendancy towards a reformation, and therefore may appear more likely to effect such a revolution.”*3

Goodwin – France Should Deliver Stroke Against Rome

Many single works, or portions, were also reprinted, as that of Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680), under the title The French Revolution Forseen, in 1639. Extracts From an Exposition of the Revelation, by an Eminent Divine of Both Universities, in the Beginning of the Last Century. Citing Goodwin’s remarks on Revelation 11:13, this reprint repeats those words of 140 years before:

“By the tenth part of the city, I understand (as Brightman before me) some one tenth part of Europe, which, as it all once belonged to the jurisdiction of Rome, (and is in this book called Ten kingdoms) so now again upon the Gentiles, or idolatrous Papists, their recovering the outward courts, shall now, at last, more or less, come under the jurisdiction of that city, but especially, or at least this tenth part of it here inteneded.”*4

Upheaval to come in One of Ten Kingdoms

After referring to the Witnesses, “triumphed over and slain during these three years and a half,” but resurrected again to the accompanyment of an earthquake, Goodwin gives this further definition of the “city”: “City being put here, (as it often is in this book) for the extents of the jurisdiction of the city of Rome, which had those ten European kingdoms allotted to it, Chap. xvii.”*5

The earthquake is then explained: A “mighty commotion, with an alteration of the face of things (either civil or ecclesiastic) shall fall out in the tenth part of the city, and shall accompany or usher in this rising of the witnesses.”*6 Further, “By and through this earthquake’s falling thus out in a tenth part of the city, this tenth part of it is so shaken, that it falls; that is, it ceases to be a part of the city, or to belong unto its jurisdiction any longer” – the earthquake arising “from within that kingdom itself.”*7

France Should be Honored with Stroke

Napoleon at St. BernardDiscussing the churches and saints within the “Kingdom of France,” who have been greatly persecuted by the Papacy, and conjecturing which of the ten kingdoms, or of the ten states in Europe, and what tenth part thereof, shall first have this great privilege, Goodwin adds:

“It may be hoped, and looked for, that their Kings, in the end, should be of the number of those Kings, who, as you have it Chap.xvii, are to be brought on to “hate the whore” and “to burn her with fire.” And so that this voice here, which calls these Witnesses (who there have ever prophesied in sackcloth) up to Heaven, may proceed from one of these Kings. And so as that kingdom [France] had the first great stroke, so now it should have the honor to have the last great stroke in the ruining of Rome.” *8

Cites Supporting Opinion of Jurieu

Then in a footnote the anonymous British reprinter adds:

“In order to shew that Dr. T. Goodwin was not singular in his interpretation of the passage of Scripture, I subjoin the sentiments of two others, the one a French, the other a Scottish Divine. The first is Peter Jurieu, a French Protestant Minister at Rotterdam, who in 1689 published a Treatise, entitled, “The Accomplishment of the Prophecies of Scripture.’ “*9

Citing Jurieu’s exposition, which “coincides entirely with the doctor in opinion,” he quotes concerning the tenth part of Antichrist’s kingdom, which shall be taken away from it: “What is this part of the city that shall fall? In my opinion we cannot doubt that it is France.” His fuller statements are quoted hereafter.

Jurieu – France will start the Breakdown

In 1686, Jurieu, previously noted, writing a full century before the French Upheaval, on The Accomplishment of the Scripture Prophecies, or the Approaching Deliverance of the Church, dealing in chapter 13 with the resurrection of the Two Witnesses, says:

Death of Louis“Now, what is this tenth part of this City, which shall fall? In my opinion, we cannot doubt that ’tis France. This Kingdom is the most considerable part, or piece of the ten horns, or States, which once made up the great Babylonian City: it fell; this does not signify that the French Monarchy shall be ruined; it may be humbled.”*11

“But who must begin this last revolt? ‘Tis most probable, that France shall. Not Spain, which as yet is plunged in superstition, and is as much under the tyranny of the Clergy as ever. Not the Emperor, who in Temporals is subject to the Pope, and permits that in his States the Archbishop of Strigonia should teach, that the Pope can take away the Imperial Crown from him. It cannot be any Country but France, which a long time ago hath begun to shake off the yoke of Rome.”*12

“Seeing the tenth part of the City which must fall, is France, this gives me some hopes that the death of the two witnesses hath a particular relation to this Kingdom.”*13

Philipot – France to Contribute to Papal Ruin

Jacques Philipot’s Elucidations on the Apocalypse of St. John devoted a number of pages to the part he felt France would play in the coming overthrow:

“As the king of France did his utmost to enhance the glory of Popery, it will be the king of France who shall most contribute to her ruin.”*14

This was written, be it remembered, a full century before the French Revolution. Philipot finished his manuscript in August, 1685, just two days before the arrival of the dragoons, who destroyed his home, and only the manuscript was saved from the wreckage. Having reached a port of safety, he compared it with the writings of the distinguished Jurieu, and was delighted to find virtual agreement.

Surprising Change to Come in France

Stating that the “earthquake” was symbolic, not literal, he says, “It is a sure thing that earthquakes in Scripture mean great changes occurring in the nations,” and adds, “There will be a surprising change in France”, a change of which “the whole world will be glad, except the clergy, the monks and the Jesuits.”*20 Then Philipot gives his reasons succinctly why he believes France is the “tenth part of the city.”

“It may be asked what reasons I have in believing that it is France, rather than any other kingdom, which is referred to by this tenth part of the city, which is to fall by the earthquake. My reasons are these. I take it for granted, first, that the city here mentioned is Babylon, that is the Papal empire, the church of Rome, the empire of Anti-Christ.”

“This has been proved. I take it for granted, secondly that France is one of the ten horns of the Beast, one of the ten kingdoms which should be formed, according to Daniel, out of the debris of the Roman empire, and that according to St. John, she should rise at the same time with the Beast, that is, with the Papal empire. This is evident from history.”

“The French Monarchy, like all the neighboring states, was established upon the ruins of the Roman empire, and grew at the same time as the Bishop of Rome. I take it for granted, thirdly, that France is a place and a part of the city, that is of the Papal Empire.”

“Since the death of the Two Witnesses takes place in France, and in such a surprising manner, why should there be any hesitation in concluding that this tenth part of the city which shall fall is France?“22

Willison Looks to France as Tenth Part

Another widely circulated reprint was titled A Prophecy of the French Revolution by John Willison (1685-1750) a Scottish Presbyterian. The climax of his argument (stated, be it remembered, half a century previous to the reprint of 1793):

“Before Anti-Christ’s Fall, one of the ten Kingdoms which supported the Beast shall undergo a marvelous Revolution, Rev. xi 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 wrapped about with the blackest clouds and thickest darkness for a time, that will be no stop to God’s great Designs.”*29

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

The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers Volume II Le Roy Edwin Froom Review and Herald Washington, DC, 1948 Exerpts from Pages 723-730