Keach on Public Worship

Keach is perhaps best known for his work in ‘repairing the breach found in the public worship of God’. Central to his efforts was Keach’s high elevation of public or corporate worship. This elevation of public worship over private worship had deep puritan roots. To the Puritans, the worship service was more than just a gathering of like-minded believers, rather it was often a day long community affair centered on celebrating the life, death, resurrection, and rule of Christ. As such the community/family of believer’s had to place a high value on their times of gathering.

One minster who is helpful in showing the puritan roots of Keach’s thought is David Clarkson who was a colleague and successor to John Owen. Clarkson preached a sermon on Psalm 87v2 entitled Public worship to be preferred before private by which he reasoned 12 points for why public worship should be preferred over private devotion.

1. The Lord is more glorified by public worship than private.

2. There is more of the Lord’s presence in public worship than in private.

3. God manifests himself more clearly in public worship than in private.

4. There is more spiritual advantage in the use of public worship.

5. Public worship is more edifying than private.

6. Public worship is a better security against apostasy than private.

7. The Lord works his greatest works in public worship.

8. Public worship is the nearest resemblance of heaven.

9. The most renowned servants of God have preferred public worship before private.

10. Public worship is the best means for procuring the greatest mercies, and preventing and removing the greatest judgments.

11. The precious blood of Christ is most interested in public worship.

12. The promises of God are given more to public worship than to private.


Keach would respond to Clarkson with a hearty ‘Amen’ as he sought to continue this long-standing puritan thought that the public worship of God is the believer’s nearest resemblance of heaven to be had now.

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