WILLIAM KIFFIN 1616 - 1701

 

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LIFE OF WILLIAM KIFFIN:

William Kiffin was born in 1616. When nine years of age he lost both of his parents to the plague. He was also afflicted by the disease but spared in the Providence of God.

Kiffin was saved while a teenager under the ministry of John Goodwin. The following quote taken from Jospeh Ivemey's 'Life of Kiffin' tells the story of Kiffin's conversion.

"At the end of the year 1632, it pleased God to bring Mr. John Goodman to London. I attended upon his ministry and found it very profitable. Delivering his judgment about the way of Godís dealings in the conversion of sinners, he showed that the terrors of the law were not of necessity to be preached to prepare the soul for Christ, because in the nature and tendency of them they drove the soul further off from Christ; answering very many objections and Scriptures produced by other ministers to prove the contrary. This was of great use to me, so far as to satisfy me that God hath not tied Himself to any such way of converting a sinner, but according to His good pleasure took several ways of bringing a soul to Jesus Christ. I had for some time seen the want of Christ, and believed that it was by Him only I must expect pardon; and had also seen the worth and excellencies that were in Him above all other objects; so that I now felt my soul to rest upon and to trust in Him."

Kiffin joined himself to the nonconformists and in 1633 was part of a group of Particular Baptists that separated and formed the first Particular Baptist Church which met in Broad Street, Old Gravel Lane, Wapping. The church was pastored by John Spilsbury (1593-1668). This group did not accept infant baptism and separated from their Paedobaptist brethren upon peaceable terms and many were rebaptised as believers.

This church also split (1640), this time over whether unbaptised men should preach or not. Kiffin and others who thought they should not separated from the church and formed a new congregation that met in Devonshire Square. Kiffin was appointed the pastor and served as such until his death in 1701.

During the times of the civil war, Kiffin taught the necessity of yielding obedience to whom ever was in government as a faithful subject of England. This allowed him to be accepted by all parties and to offer much assistance to suffering brethren. There were times when those of the established church sought to have Kiffin imprisoned, but on every occasion the charges failed to stick and were found often to be nothing but lies.

On the 2nd October 1682, William Kiffin's wife died. Previously he had lost two sons, one having been poisoned in Europe by a Papist priest.

In 1689, William Kiffin participated in the General Assembly of Particular Baptists in London that formulated the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. He was one of seven influential Particular Baptists who helped set up the assembly.

As a wealthy London merchant, Kiffin became well known to the king (Charles II) and was appointed an alderman of London, a Lord Lieutenant and a magistrate. This was not something he was particularly happy about, seeing in the appointment the possibility of much grief for himself and his family. He sought to be excused but was unable to gain his wish. He served for a short term of nine months before he was dismissed from the duty, much to his relief.

On the 29th December 1701, aged 86, William Kiffin died. He had been the most influential Particular Baptist of his time.

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UPDATED: 18 April 2014

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