The following is a letter I wrote to a friend commending The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn. My favorite biography is the two volumes by Iain Murray on the life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, but next to it is this volume about Joseph Kinghorn. If you have not read it, I hope you will obtain a copy and learn about one of the great Baptist lights of the 19th Century.
November 11, 1996
I am writing you in order to encourage you to read The Life and Works of Joseph Kinghorn, recently republished by the Particular Baptist Press of Springfield, Missouri. I found it to be a most instructive and heart-warming read.
My interest in Kinghorn, in part, is due to the fact that he ministered in the city of Norwich, England, as pastor of the St. Mary's Baptist Church. I lived just outside Norwich for three years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist Church. My acquaintance with Kinghorn in those days was limited, but I knew of his ministry in Norwich and throughout the county of Norfolk in the 19th Century was tremendous. It was a spiritual treat to discover that the biography of Kinghorn, written by Martin Hood Wilkin, was back in print. Also included in this edition is the funeral sermon for Kinghorn by John Alexander and a tribute sermon about him by John Bane.
Kinghorn was born in 1766 and died in 1832. That period for Baptist is immensely important, as you well know. Kinghorn is not as well known among us as Fuller, Sutcliff, Carey, Hall, Pearce, etc., but he deserves to be.
Some of the highlights of the book for me are the following:
1. Kinghorn attended the Baptist Academy at Bristol. Much information is found in this volume about the school, its teachers, and the struggles the brethren overcame to offer young men preparing for the ministry a good theological education.
2. Kinghorn had a wonderful relationship with his father, who also was a Baptist preacher. The correspondence between the two is worth twice the price of the book. His father offered him much good council and advice. I will give you one example of admonition that David Kinghorn passed along to his 16 year old son when arguments about the deity of Christ and the trinity led many into Unitarianism.
"I advise thee my son to beware of the vain jangling of such persons as are forward to dispute about the Deity, seeing we can know no more of him than what is revealed in Scripture; what its says, and not what man says, is to be our rule. But the great things in religion are to be most attended to; holiness in heart and life, without which no man shall see the Lord… I intreat thee to be swift to hear, slow to speak, especially about the sacred trinity. Sherlock says, 'One fool may start many queries, which a hundred wise men cannot answer, and that not only about religious, but natural or philosophical things'" (p. 31).
3. Kinghorn pastored one church his entire life. From 1789 until his death 43 years later in 1832, he labored in Norwich. He also was responsible for starting churches in villages and towns in the county of Norfolk.
4. Kinghorn was a scholar and theologian as well as pastor. He was learned in the original languages of Scripture, especially Hebrew. He sets a great example for pastors to be learned men, and not just professors at the Seminary.
5. Many of the controversies of Baptist life in the 19th Century are evident in the book. Calvinism and HyperCalvinism, strict and open communion, church and state, missions and anti-missions, the mode and subjects for baptism, the extent of the atonement, etc., are issues with which Kinghorn interacted.
These are just some of the things that stand out in this wonderful biography. I hope you will buy or borrow a copy and read it for your own spiritual edification.
Copies can be obtained through Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service or directly from the publisher, Particular Baptist Press, 2766 W. Weaver Road, Springfield, MO 65810.
Sincerely in Christ,