Posted by: Marty | September 29, 2011

William Kiffin, Merchant-Pastor

William Kiffin died. The pastor-merchant had been raised up by God’s providence so that his talents, influence, and wealth might be used to assist the persecuted brethren in the distressing period of Baptist suffering in England. For half a century, William Kiffin was the “Father of the English Baptists.” When the plague swept London in 1625, killing an estimated one third of the population, little William was but 9 years old. He experienced 6 plague sores yet miraculously recovered, though he was left an orphan as his mother and father passed. Surely God’s Almighty hand was upon the boy, for he was to grow up to be “the most beloved Baptist of his time.” William Kiffin was regenerated in his teen years through the ministry of Puritan preachers. Around age 22, he joined an independent church in London. Later he came to Baptist convictions and united with the Baptist church that John Spilsbury was pastoring. In 1640 Spilsbury’s church supervised the establishment of a “sister church” in Devonshire Square, and William became pastor, serving that capacity for the remaining 61 years of his life. He also became one of the most successful businessmen in England as he carried on trade with foreign countries as he used an assistant in the work at Devonshire Square. According to the historian Macaulay, “Kiffin was for a half century the first man in the Baptist denomination.” He was arrested many times, His first son died at age 20, his second son was poisoned by a priest that he witnessed to, and his daughter died young. His two grandsons, Benjamin and William Hewling, were martyred for their faith.
Condensed by Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 402-04.


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