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Benjamin Keach
Early British Baptist Minister
Baptist Magazine, 1839
      Benjamin Keach was born February 29, 1640, at Stokehman, Bucks and ascended from godly parents, who "brought him up in the nurture and adminition of the Lord." "From a child he knew the Holy Scriptures, which made him wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus," and throughly furnished him unto all good works." Having received the love of the truth that he might be saved, in hi8s fifteenth year he publicly devoted himself to the service of Christ by submitting to the rite of Christian baptism. Three years after his baptism, the church called him to the work of the ministry, which he prosecuted with considerable acceptance and success among the Remonstrance, or General Baptists, from whom he subsequently withdrew, and joined the Particular Baptist denomination. Wishing to use every legitimate means for the diffusion of religious knowledge, especially among the rising generation, in the year 1664 he published a book called "the Child's Instructor;" on account of which he was bound in a recognizance of L100, and two sureties of L50 each, to appear at the assizes, to answer for his offence. The result of his mock trial sentenced him to imprisonment for a fortnight, to stand in the pillory at Aylesbury and at Winslow, to have the book burnt before his face by the common hangman, to pay the king L20, to remain in jail till he found sureties for his good behaviour and appearance at the next assizes; then to renounce his doctrines, and make such submissions as should be enjoined. All this a pious and respectable minister of the Baptist denomination suffered from the creatures of a despotic and licentious monarch, not for sedition or riotous conduct, not for drunkenness, or immorality; but for endeavouring to teach young children the first principles of the oracles of God. Disgusted with such unrighteous and intolerant proceedings, Mr. Keach removed with his family to London, A.D. 1668, and soon afterwards became pastor of a Baptist church in the Borough. In order to escape molestation, this little flock often met in private and obscure houses; but, notwithstanding the precautions used, they were disturbed on various occasions, and taken before magistrates to answer for their nonconformity. In the year 1672, they availed themselves of the indulgence of Charles II. "granting to the protestant dissenters the public exercise of their religion," and built a meetinghouse at Horsley-down, in which Mr. Keach preached with so much acceptance and success, that repeated enlargements were necessary to provide accommodation for his numerous hearers. Increasing popularity and influence augmented his labours and responsibilities, which he cheerfully discharged, in promoting the Protestant interest in this kingdom; in writing books to explain and defend the doctrines and duties of Christianity; and in seeking the prosperity of his own denomination. In common with the great body of nonconformists, he hailed "the Glorious Revolution" as a fatal blow to despotism, and the dawn of an auspicious day to our country; nor is there any ground for surprise that one who suffered so much under the Stuart dynasty should rejoice over its downfall, and indulge visions of future glory. "I do not doubt," said he, "but the slain witnesses are getting out of their graves; time will open things clearer to us; but I am sure we cannot sufficiently adore the divine goodness, for that salvation wrought by his right hand."

      Mr. Keach became a leading and influential minister in his own denomination; visited the churches in various parts of the kingdom at the request of his brethren, and zealously promoted the erection of some meeting-houses in London and the vicinity. In the baptismal controversy he wrote against Richard Baxter and Mr. Burkitt; publicly disputed with Quakers and Socinians; and was involved in the discussions then dividing our churches about laying hands on baptized believers, singing the praises of God in public, the maintenance of Christian ministers, and the abrogation of the Jewish Sabbath. The closing scenes of his life manifested the power and value of true religion. Patience, resignation to the will of God, faith in Jesus Christ, joy in the Holy Ghost, and a good hope through grace possessed his soul; and, after "enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," he finished his course July 18,1704, in the 64th year of his life. "The memory of the just is blessed." - T.P.


[From The Baptist Magazine, April, 1839, pp. 157-58; On-line edition. - Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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