Benjamin Keach (1640-1704) A Faithful Witness
In 1664 there were allot of things going on in the world. New Jersey had become an English colony in North America. The Triennial Act 1641 was passed, which was intended to limit the powers of the King. England also annexed the New Netherland colony and renamed it the Province of New York, in North America. 1664 also marked the beginning of yet another war between the Dutch and English. There was also fundamental changes occurring in the church. The Reformation was in full swing and doctrinal developments were being developed that would lead to setting the tone for Protestant and Baptist theologies for centuries to come.
The earliest Baptist church in England was found in the 1630s, although Baptist churches are found in earlier time periods in other countries. These English Baptist pioneers included John Bunyan (1628-88), Benjamin Keach (1640-1704), John Gill (1697-1771), and Charles Spurgeon (1834-92). All of these men and a few not mentioned, had a great impact on the development of the modern Baptist church, and all made hard sacrifices for the Kingdom.
Benjamin Keach, was baptized when he was 15 and began preaching at 18. He is known for introducing hymn singing into the Baptists churches. He wrote an estimated 43 works which includes his most famous writing, “The Child’s Instructor”, in 1664. Oddly enough he had wrote this, and at the behest of friends, who wanted to use it in their homes, published the book without his authorship identified in the book. In this book he addresses the topics of the lack of Biblical support for infant baptism (supported by both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches), the laymen’s ability to preach, if so led by the Spirit, (which meant that ordination was of God not man), and that Christ would reign personally upon the earth in the later day.
Needless to say, these were deemed as heresy by the established churches. Baptist were often seen as dissenters (non-conformists), and were often treated with visible rage. Once such incident occurred when troopers had overheard Mr. Keach preaching, and were so enraged they tied him down, layed him in the street and were intent to trample him to death with their horses. Bless the Lord a superior arrived just in time, and ordered them to take him to jail. Later he was released. When the authorities found out that Pastor Benjamin had been the author of “The Child’s Instructor”, also know as “A New and Easier Primer”. They seized all of his books and put him to trial for heresy. In a mock trial Benjamin Keach was denied a copy of the incitement, was not allowed to speak to defend his position, and was subsequently found guilty and sent to prison, fined, book burned, and had to endure public shame in the square, and required to make yet another court appearance to further divulge his heresy. When they finally let him declare his reasoning for what he had written, he preached his doctrine before the gathered mob. The mob who normally pelted the accused with rotten fruits and rocks, stood silent and absorbed all he had to say. Benjamin and his wife continued there ministry, boldly proclaiming truth despite threats of imprisonment and death made to both he and his wife. If we could have the sack to stand so bold today. If we were to have such confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ and the sense of urgency that we should all have concerning those all around us that are dying every day in their sin. What a difference this one witness made. What a difference we could make.