Certain Observations upon Hosea the Second

William Kiffin

Originally Printed In 1642

Posted On September 17, 2018

Certain Observations upon Hosea the Second, the 7th & 8th verses, as they were Delivered at a Friend’s House who had broken his leg, for which Meeting the Author was Committed to the White Lion Gaol, by Sir Thomas Malet, late Judge of Assize, for the County where he remains a Prisoner of Jesus Christ.

William Kiffin, 1616–1701, wealthy London Merchant, and English Particular Baptist. At a very young age he began to attend the preaching of a number of celebrated London ministers, including Mr. John Davenport, John Norton, and Jeremiah Burroughs. When the famous Mr. John Goodwin settled in London, about the latter end of 1632, Kiffin found himself regularly attending his ministry, which he at that time found much to his benefit. {Note: This was before Goodwin openly apostatized from the Gospel of God’s Grace, for it was not until 1638, that Goodwin broached from the pulpit of St. Stephen’s his opinions on justification by faith, taking a view which was already regarded as practically Arminian; and his defence of general redemption did not appear until 1651.} After some time, Kiffin joined himself to a Society of Independents, under the pastoral care of Mr. John Lothrop, and afterwards of Henry Jessey, who was then a prominent spokesperson on the behalf of those who dissented from all organized forms of institutional or state religion, also becoming a Fifth Monarchist around 1649. This assembly was to become the first Independent Church in London, a congregation of around sixty members which met at Southwark. Historians sometimes call this assembly the Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey Church, named for its first three pastors, Henry Jacob, John Lothropp and Henry Jessey. Around 1641-2, during the ministry of Henry Jessey, Kiffin and few others adopted anti-paedobaptists principles, though remaining members of Jessey’s congregation till around 1644. In 1644 Kiffin was one of the twelve signers of the London Confession of Faith; and also in 1646, of the slightly revised London Confession, essentially the first statements of faith, written by Particular Baptists, although addressing themselves as the “churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly called Anabaptists.” Kiffin preached occasionally, which brought him into difficulty with the London Authorities, who were then bent on crushing any unauthorized or unlicensed preaching. For this reason, he was arrested for a meeting that had taken place in Southwark, and carried before Judge Thomas Mallet who committed him to the White Lion Prison, where he remained for some time a prisoner, from which situation the following sermon, {Observations on Hosea 2:7,8, &c.,} was given to the printers, namely to vindicate his person, as one attempting to simply proclaim the Gospel of Christ, without any other motives. In the years following Kiffin would become a successful London merchant, chiefly dealing in the woolen trade. In 1653 he was instrumental in establishing the Particular Baptist Church at Devonshire Square, of which he became its first preaching elder, an office which he held for over 40 years. Kiffin was on friendly terms with Oliver Cromwell, who appointed him a Member of Parliament for Middlesex in 1656. Throughout his long life Kiffin had his full share of hardships and persecution suffered by Non-Conformists in those early days. He was denounced as the ringleader of the Baptist ‘sect’ and had to endure many fines and imprisonments on that account. During his final years he continued to have an active part in many areas of life, but his chief concern throughout was the cause of God and Truth, for which he was held in great esteem by his brethren, who loved him in Christ. He died on December 29, 1701, and his body laid to rest in Bunhill Fields Graveyard.

Excerpts: Christ is the only Head, Husband, Lord and Lawgiver of his Church. Reason: Because the Church of Christ is sprung up from the loins of Christ, as they have been taken out of the very sides of Christ - so may Jesus Christ claim a propriety and interest in the Church to be Lord and Husband of it because it proceeds from his very loins; and because Jesus Christ hath bought his Church {through redemption} they are the travail of his soul, the glory of his Mediatorial work; and seeing that Jesus Christ hath travailed for his Church, and by his travails hath brought forth a glorious deliverance to his Church; that now his Church should be subject to him, and yield obedience to his laws; seeing Christ hath satisfied God his Father by his own blood, is it not reason that we should live to his praise and honor. Is it reason that when a mother hath undergone a sore travail and pain with a child, and at last when the child is through many difficulties and hazards of the woman's life brought forth, that another woman that stands by, when the child is delivered, should snatch it up and say, “this child shall be subject unto me and own me for its mother; and what I command it, so shall it do; and what I command it to wear, it shall wear;” would not this be counted injurious dealing with this poor woman that hath suffered so much in bringing forth the child; that now she should be deprived of the comfort of bringing it up; and is it not as injurious dealing with Jesus Christ, that seeing he hath travailed for his Church, and brought forth his Church, that now other men should snatch it from his hands and prescribe laws unto them, which they would force their consciences to be subject unto? Therefore by way of use, in the first place this serves to reprove all these persons that so do; for certainly Jesus Christ will one day take vengeance upon all such persons; and sure it is, that the Church being the glory of his Mediatorial work, he will not give his glory to any other, nor his praise to graven images; but though men do now labor to dis-throne Christ, yet there is a time coming wherein Jesus Christ will dis-throne all his enemies and will reign gloriously in the midst of them all; as he will make his enemies his footstool, and “the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills.” Therefore let all men for the time to come take heed how they prescribe any laws for the government of the Church, that they step not up in Christ's stead, but this let all men know, that Christ hath prescribed laws already which are perfect and pure, by which he both hath, doth, and will govern his Church, and therefore let this be the duty of us all, to labor to know what these laws and rules are, that so we may be more and more subject unto them, that we dishonor not Jesus Christ, by giving anything to any other, which is only of right due unto Him.

One sign of declension is this; a disregarding of the truth of Christ, II Chron.24:20, as when the minds of men grow weary of the truths of Christ, and their estimation of truth {which formally hath been} slackens. To prevent this, let us labor for soundness of judgment in the truths of God, that so we may receive nothing upon other men's judgments, and reports, but trying all things we may hold fast to that which is good, for ignorance is the mother of error, and a corrupted life doth soon follow an erroneous judgment; wherefore let us be often in searching the Scripture and seeking of God by prayer, that he would be pleased to unfold those glorious mysteries of his will in his Word unto us by his Spirit, that so we may be enabled to judge of things that differ. Let us also labor to receive the truth in the love of it, for when truth is received by men under this consideration of love; when men see an excellency in truth and love the truth from that excellency that they see in it, they will labor after it. It is the property of love to do much, and suffer much; and yet it looks upon all that it doth; and suffers as little, because where true love is, it will produce effects suitable to itself. See this in that love of God, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, &c.” John 3:16. Mark, if once God cast an eye of love upon a creature, this very love will produce an effect suitable to its nature, even the giving of Jesus Christ to die for that creature; so indeed if once the love of our souls be given unto the excellency of the truth, then our lives, our liberties, our estates, or friends will follow roundly; but if there be a defect in our love to the truth, there will soon be a defect in our standing to, or suffering for truth. Let us consider that the truth of God is the portion of the Saints, and if we lose truth we lose Jesus Christ. Where will you have comfort and where will you have salvation, if you lose truth? And therefore saith Solomon, “Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go; keep her; for she is thy life.” Prov.4:13. Therefore David also hath recourse upon all occasions to the Word. Psalm 119. “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction; for thy word hath quickened me,” Psal.119:49,50, as if he should say, I have no other companion in my troubles but it; and so in the 92nd verse of the same Psalm saith he; “unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.” And therefore as worldly men surround themselves with all they have, by what they have and are in the world, so let the servants of God surround themselves with what they have and are; that is, by nothing but what they have in Jesus Christ, who dwells in the truth, and conveys himself through the truth into the hearts and consciences of his people, and therefore let us labor to possess it as our portion, and if Naboth would rather incurre the displeasure of the King, then part with the inheritance given him by his fathers, I Kings 21:3,4, how much more should we be willing to incurre the displeasure of all men, rather than to lose any part of the truth of Jesus Christ given unto us, and purchased for us, as so dear a rate as his own precious blood.

When God intends to do any soul good, either to reclaim them from a fallen condition, or to bring persons to the knowledge of Himself, the usual way that he takes herein is to discover to them the emptiness and insufficiency of all things that are here below; as not being able to give any contentment or satisfaction to the soul. There is something of this truth appearing in the 14th verse of this chapter, where the Lord saith, “I will bring her into the wilderness.” Hos.2:14. Now we know a wilderness condition is a condition destitute of all help, as nothing is to be found therein but wild beasts ready to devour, and no help is to be expected in the wilderness from it; so indeed when men are brought into a wilderness condition having neither penny nor pennies worth as the prophet saith, Isa.55:1; then is God pleased to speak comfort to his people and then doth he cause them to look upwards. The reason why God takes such a course with men is because while the soul sees any fullness in anything in heaven or earth whereby to lean to besides Christ, it will fasten at the horns of that altar; be it what it will, and never make any further search or inquiry after Christ. The carriage of the soul in this case is like the carriage of Jacob in another, for while there was corn in Canaan, Jacob never thinks, nor mentions going into Egypt, but when there was none there, then saith old Jacob, “Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt; get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.” Gen.42:2. So indeed, while there is any food to be gotten for the soul here below it looks no higher, and therefore it is that the Lord is pleased to cut off all springs of comfort and peace to be had from anything here below, that so the soul may see Jesus Christ to be he who has all the Wellsprings of comfort, peace, joy, and refreshment to the soul. Let us a little from the consideration of this doctrine examine our own spirits, and see how our hearts stand affected, or what our spirits are fraught with, whether with high conceits of the world, of the excellency and fullness and glory thereof; or whether with the excellent fullness and goodness that is in Jesus Christ? Certainly this is an undoubted truth, that if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in them, let them profess what they will; therefore it behooves every man to look about him, and see whether God hath ever yet made this discovery to the soul; namely, that all the things of the world are empty, poor and weak, not able to give out the least dram of true comfort to the soul. I beseech you, let us again ask our hearts this question, as Christ did in the like case, “are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Matt.20:22. This we all profess to know, that we cannot serve two masters. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” These being so opposite one to each other, that if we obey the one, we must reject the other. Wherefore let us commune with our own hearts, and see a little how our spirits stand affected to Christ. Do we find upon serious examination that Christ and his laws do bear sway in our hearts and the excellency that is in them doth in the eyes of our souls weigh down all those riches, honors, pleasures and desires of the world? Nay; more than this, do you see so much excellency in God's ways as that it will bear your charges with great allowance through those miseries, sorrows, reproaches and losses that you shall sustain in this life; yea, even life itself. Paul when he cast up his account of matters of this nature, triumphs in that glorious allowance that he saw provided for him by God; “for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” II Cor.4:17. Wherefore let us not rest satisfied with a face of profession, but let us labor to make inquiry into our own heart and see what discoveries God hath made to us of the creature emptiness, and of his own fullness in Christ.