Elias Keach, born 1667, was the only son of Benjamin Keach, imminent Baptist preacher and hymn-writer of England. Elias traveled to Philadelphia in 1686 when he was nineteen years old. He was at this time an ungodly young man and, for sport, deceived those he met by portraying himself as a minister of the gospel. Almost immediately, he was asked to preach, and when mostly through his sermon, stopped suddenly. Looking “as a man astonished,” the people gathered closer, supposing he was taken ill. Fearing his boldness in deception, the trembling man confessed that he was not a minister and was not actually a Christian. Overcome with anguish; he immediately called upon Christ Jesus to save his guilty soul. “The deceiver became the first convert of his own preaching, for from this time he dated his conversion! (Quoted from the Baptist History Preservation Society)”
Straightaway, Elias Keach began to labour for the master. In January of 1688, Keach constituted the Lower Dublin church in Pennsylvania, from which sprung a significant number of Baptist churches in that state. He laboured abundantly throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, preaching often and with great success. When doctrinal disputation arose within the church in 1689, Keach resigned from the pastorate, and he and his wife Mary returned to London. There he started another church, baptizing 130 souls into its membership in the first nine months of service. He died in 1701 at the age of 34. Glory to God for a man that set out to deceive but stayed to work the fields for the master.
That he reveals his will,
Might observe his commands, and do
The same acceptably.
Whate’er thou dost require;
Be thee to glorify,
No more from thee depart.
We shall then rejoice and be glad
In thee our Lord and King;
Thy high praises to sing.
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