Benjamin Keach And The ‘Baxterian’ Controversy of the 1690s -- By: Austin R. Walker

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 03:1 (Spring 2006)
Article: Benjamin Keach And The ‘Baxterian’ Controversy of the 1690s
Author: Austin R. Walker

Benjamin Keach And The ‘Baxterian’
Controversy of the 1690s

Austin R. Walker

Austin Walker is pastor, along with his son Jeremy, of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, West Sussex, UK and author of The Excellent Benjamin Keach, Joshua Press.

In 1690 Benjamin Keach was fifty years old and had been the pastor of a Particular Baptist congregation that met on the south bank of the River Thames, in Horselydown, Southwark, for some twenty years. He had first come to London from his native Buckinghamshire with his wife and family in 1668. Since the return of the Stuart monarchy in the person of Charles II in 1660, Nonconformists had been subjected to varying degrees of persecution. Keach was no stranger to persecution for the sake of Christ. As a young preacher and writer he had appeared before the Lord Chief Justice at Aylesbury Assizes in 1664 and was subsequently punished in the pillory. He continued to suffer for his Christian principles once he came to London until the removal of James II and the arrival of William of Orange from the Low Countries in 1689.1

Nevertheless he faithfully carried out his ministry during those difficult twenty years and continued to preach until shortly before his death in 1704. Having been converted to Christ at the age of fifteen through the ministry of Matthew Mead, Keach became convinced of believer’s baptism and joined the General Baptists, who met in and around Winslow in north Buckinghamshire. Having come to London, he also came to a new understanding of the covenant of grace, and adopted Calvinistic principles. Over time he became the single most important exponent of Particular Baptist convictions, especially during the last fifteen years of his life, from 1689 to 1704. By then the two other best-known Particular Baptist pastors in London were considerably older than Keach and past their prime. In 1689 Hansard Knollys was in his nineties (he died in 1691) and William Kiffin in his mid-seventies (he died in 1701). During those fifteen years Keach wrote prolifically. He produced nearly thirty books, thereby exceeding other Particular Baptists both in the scope and the extent of his works.

Among those writings were four important works that focused on the issue of justification by faith: The Marrow of True Justification (1692), The Everlasting Covenant, a sweet Cordial for a drooping soul (1693), The Display of Glorious Grace (1698), and A Medium betwixt two Extremes (1698). However, Keach also made frequent references to the same issue in other published sermons, such as A Golden Mine Opened, and in an extended series of sermons on the parables which he began preaching as Sunday early mo...

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