Memoirs of Benjamin Keach- His Marriages

“Mr. Keach had been twice married. His first wife was a Miss Jane Grove, of Winslow, in Buckinghamshire, “a woman of great piety and prudence,” to which might have been added, great affection and fortitude, which she manifested when her husband was set in the pillory, by standing by him and defending the cause for which he suffered. This good woman died October 1670, in the 31st year of her age. This was a very great affliction to him, as she was a very tender and loving wife, and had been his companion in sufferings ten years. The extraordinary affection which he bare to her memory was manifested by his writing a poem on the occasion of her death, which he entitled, A Pillar set up, assigning as his reason the example of Jacob, And Rachel died and was buried, and Jacob set up a pillar on her grave, that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day. In this he gave her a very high character, commending her zeal for the truth, sincerity in religion, uncommon love to the saints, and her great contentment in whatsoever condition of life God was pleased to place her. He particularly mentions how great an help and comfort she was to him in his suffering for the cause of Christ, visiting him while in prison, and taking all possible care of him, and encouraging him to go on, counting it an honour done them both, in that they were called to suffer for the sake of Christ. She was of an heavenly conversation, her discourse savoury, and for the most part about spiritual things, seeking the good of those she talked with; and in this she was so successful, that many have acknowledged that they were indebted to her conversation for their conversion to God. As Mr. Keach published this account of her that her example might be imitated by others, for the same reason we have thought it worth transcribing.

After being a widower about two years, he married again. This union was much to his comfort, as they lived together in great affection 32 years.

“To collect every particular transaction (says Crosby) of this worthy minister’s life, cannot be expected at such a distance of time; nay, even to collect all that was excellent and imitable in him is too great a task to be now undertaken. I shall only observe that he was a person of great integrity of soul; a Nathaniel indeed; his conversation not frothy and vain, but serious without being morose or sullen. He began to be religious early, and continued faithful to the last. He was not shocked by the fury of his persecutors, though he suffered so much from them for the cause of Christ. Preaching the gospel was the pleasure of his soul, and his heart was so engaged in the work of the ministry, that from the time of his first appearing in public, to the end of his days, his life was one continued scene of labour and toil. His great study and constant preaching exhausted his animal spirits, and enfeebled his strength, yet to the last he discovered a becoming zeal against the errors of the day; his soul was too great to recede from any truth that he owned, either from the frowns or flatteries of the most eminent. He discharged the duties of his pastoral office wilh unwearied diligence, by preaching in season and out of season, visiting those under his charge, encouraging the serious, defending the great truths of the gospel, and setting them in the clearest light. How low would he stoop for the sake of peace! and how would he bear the infirmities of his weak brethren! that such as would not be wrought upon by the strength of reason, might be melted by his condescension and good nature. He was prudent as well as peaceable ; would forgive and forget injuries, being charitable as well as courteous. He was not addicted to utter hard censures of such as differed from him in less matters, but had a love for all saints, and constantly exercised himself in this, to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. He shewed an unwearied endeavour to recover the decayed power of religion, for he lived what he preached, and it pleased God so to succeed his endeavours, that I doubt not but some yet living may call him their father, whom he hath begotten through the gospel. He affected no unusual tones, nor indecent gestures in his preaching, his style was strong and masculine. He generally used notes, especially in the latter part of his life; and if his sermons had not the embellishments of language, which some boast of, they had this peculiar advantage to be full of solid divinity; which is a much better character for pulpit discourses, than to say they are full of pompous eloquence and flights of wit. It was none of the least of his excellent qualifications for the ministerial work, that he knew how to behave himtelf in the house of God in regard of the exercise of that discipline which is so necessary to a christian society. With patience and meekness, with gravity and prudence, with impartiality and faithfulness, did he demean himself in his congregation; and with great prudence did he manage all their affairs upon all occasions.

In his family he was very exemplary, encouraging the first appearances of piety, and constantly instructing them in the things of God, and putting them in mind of the concerns of their souls, praying with and for them. He was a very affectionate husband, a tender father, a prudent master, and a constant and grateful friend. He was naturally of a good disposition, and generally pleasant and cheerful in conversation. The vivacity of his temper sometimes exposed him to sharp and sudden fits of anger, which occasioned no small uneasiness to himself, as well as those who had given him any provocation; but those fits were but for a short continuance, and so the trouble occasioned by them was soon over and the goodness and tenderness of his nature was such as afterwards made amends to those who had fallen under his resentment. Besides, if his natural passion, at any time, so far transported him, as to cause him to speak any rash or offensive words, he was presently recovered; and would with the greatest humility and frankness retract what he had said; and thereby discovered that not the least degree of prejudice remained in his breast.

Taken from: The American Baptist Magazine, New Series, July, 1821, pp. 121-127; Part II: September, 1821, pp. 164-166.

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