Benjamin Keach’s Articles of Faith, 1697

Recently, the 1689 Federalism Blog posted some excerpts from Benjamin Keach’s 1697 Confession of Faith, written for the Baptist Church at Horsley-down, England. A church which would later be moved by the famous Baptist Pastor John Gill to Carter Lane, Southwark, and then to New Park Street, where it was pastored by Charles Spurgeon!

Regular readers of the Abraham’s Seed blog, and those interested in Baptist history, need no introduction to Benjamin Keach.  He was an early founding father of the Baptist faith who suffered for preaching and teaching the ‘faith once delivered.’ He was a prolific author and teacher who was very influential in the early movement. Two of Keach’s most famous contributions to the Baptists are his Catechism and his introduction of congregational hymn signing. A couple short biographical sketches of Keach are provided below:

The link below will take you to a new page on the blog that contains a confession of faith that Keach authored for his church at Horsley-down in 1697. It would seem that the 1677 confession had fallen into disuse (due to high printing costs) and Keach wanted to leave behind a brief summary of the doctrine which he taught before leaving his pulpit. The confession is a masterful summary of Christian doctrine and closely follows the Baptist confession and Keach’s Catechism (Keach’s congregation was apparently well taught).

Keach’s Confession

I took the text of the confession from the one scanned and put online by the University of Michigan’s Early English Books project.  Please read and enjoy and let me know of any typing errors you find.

Happy Reformation Day 2015!

95ThesenOn this day in 1517 Martin Luther tacked the 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the initial blow in what eventually led to the Protestant Reformation.

During the Reformation, the Bablyonian captivity of the church was broken, the power of anti-christ was weakened, and the Word of God was given back to the people of God.

The Protestant Reformers fought for the following 5 ideals, referred to as the 5 Solas:

1) Scripture Alone
2) Faith Alone
3) Grace Alone
4) Christ Alone
5) Glory to God Alone

Each year on Reformation Day, I write up a short bio on one of the heroes of the Reformation. This year our annual Reformation Day series will focus on Martin Bucer – reformer of the Southern German, Swiss, and English churches.


Martin Bucer is one of the most prominent, yet least known, reformers. He was born in Alsace Region (of present day France) in 1491 and began his religious career as a Dominican Friar at 15 years old. He was later sent to Heidelberg (1517) to further his education at the famous University there. He was strongly impressed after hearing Martin Luther‘s debate at Heidelberg in 1518. He had dinner with Luther and was solidly impressed with his teaching and understanding of the Scriptures. Later, after continuing his own Biblical studies and reading the works of Luther, he was converted and fully committed to the reformation cause. Interestingly, Bucer was to stand with Luther before the Diet of Worms in 1521. He was later released from his monastic vows, and by 1522, he was excommunicated from the Roman church. He (scandalously) married a former nun in 1522 and had 13 children.

Bucer moved to Strasbourg to become a Protestant Pastor in 1523. He pastored there for 25 years. Strasbourg was then a German city and capital of the region of Alsace (today French). It had (and still has) an enormous cathedral. Calvin labored there when he was exiled from Geneva from 1538 to 1541. The mass was abolished in Strasbourg in 1528 and soon after a Christian college and seminary were established. Bucer also established Christian schools in Strasbourg, wrote many Bible commentaries, and traveled and wrote extensively in support of the reformation.

After the Smalkaldic War, he refused to compromise with the Interim of the Diet of Augsburg, and was forced to leave Strasbourg. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer invited him to England to be a professor of theology at Cambridge University. There, he wrote perhaps his most famous work, De Regno Christi (On the Kingdom of Christ), for King Edward VI in 1550. He labored as an advisor to both Archbishop Cranmer and King Edward VI and was influential over the reformation of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1552.

Bucer died in England in 1551. Statesman John Cheke wrote a fitting eulogy:

We are deprived of a leader than whom the whole world would scarcely obtain a greater, whether in knowledge of true religion or in integrity and innocence of life, or in thirst for study of the most holy things, or in exhausting labour in advancing piety, or in authority and fullness of teaching, or in anything that is praiseworthy and renowned.

After his death, Bucer was buried with high honors at Cambridge, but “Bloody” Queen Mary had his body exhmmed, so that he could be tried, condemned as a heretic, and burned. Later, Queen Elizabeth reversed Mary and restored Bucer’s honor.

Martin Bucer was very influential over the Protestant theology of Germany, Switzerland, and England and was a peaceful link between the German Lutherans and Swiss Calvinist reformation movements. He was a prolific author and his writings had a great impact on better known reformers, including John Calvin.

His motto was: “Wir sind Christgläubig, nicht kirchgläubig.” (“We believe in Christ, not in the church.”)

Some helpful resources for further study of Martin Bucer are Wikipedia and Theopedia, and Philip Schaff’s “History of the Christian Church, Volume VII”.


Prior Reformation Day Posts

Happy Reformation Day 2014!

95ThesenOn this day in 1517 Martin Luther tacked the 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the initial blow in what eventually led to the Protestant Reformation.

During the Reformation, the Bablyonian captivity of the church was broken, the power of anti-christ was weakened, and the Word of God was given back to the people of God.

The Protestant Reformers fought for the following 5 ideals, referred to as the 5 Solas:

1) Scripture Alone
2) Faith Alone
3) Grace Alone
4) Christ Alone
5) Glory to God Alone

Each year on Reformation Day, I write up a short bio on one of the heroes of the Reformation. This year our annual Reformation Day series will focus on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer – reformer of the English church. This history of the English reformation has particular interest for Baptists, as it is a distant part of our own history. During the 16th Century, those within the Church of England that were frustrated with the slow pace of reform were called Puritans. Those Puritans that separated from the CoE were called Separatists, Independants, and Congregationalists. It is from this Puritan-Separatist movement that our early Baptist forefathers sprang. In a certain sense then, the history of the English Reformation is the history of the Baptists.

Continue reading

The Simplicity of Early Baptist Worship

The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies posted a few examples of the refreshingly simple format for worship used by our Particular Baptist forefathers: The Simplicity of Early Baptist Worship:

Order of Worship

  1. A Brother reads a Psalm
  2. Time spent in Prayer
  3. Read some portion of Holy Scripture
  4. Preaching
  5. Prayer
  6. Psalm singing

An example from Hanserd Knollys was given thus:

Order of Worship

  1. Prayer
  2. Scripture reading with exposition and interpretation
  3. Preaching
  4. Baptism
  5. The Lord’s table
  6. Singing

It is interesting to note that in both examples, worship is begun with Scripture and prayer and closed with Psalm singing. Scripture reading and exposition were given in addition to preaching. Scripture exposition, as far as I understand it, was didactic. The sermon was exhortatory. When I read Matthew Henry’s biography I discovered that he also gave a Scriptural exposition early in the service and a sermon in the middle.

Oldest Baptist Order of Worship

According to a paper I found on the internet, “The Baptist History and Heritage Society contains what is believed to be the oldest record of a Baptist worship service from 1609.”:

The order of the worshippe and government of
oure church is we begynne wth A prayer, after
reade some one or tow chapters of the Bible
gyve the sence thereof, and conferr vpon the
same, that done we lay aside oure bookes, and
after a solemne prayer made by the speaker, he
propoundeth some text owt of the Scripture,
and prophecieth owt of the same, by the space
of one hower, or thre Quarters of an hower.

The essential elements recorded here are:

  1. Prayer
  2. Scripture Reading and Exposition
  3. Prayer
  4. Preaching

18th Century American Order of Worship

That same paper cited an example of 18th Century American Southern Baptist worship as constructed by Baptist historian who have studied period writing:

  1. Short Prayer
  2. Scripture Reading
  3. Long Prayer
  4. Hymn
  5. Preaching
  6. Prayer
  7. Hymn
  8. Lord’s Supper
  9. Offering
  10. Benediction

Here we see that hymns have replaced Psalm singing and given greater emphasis, but the essential format remains nearly the same – prayer, Scripture, prayer, preaching, ordinances, singing.

Conclusion

For over 350 years (~1609-1960s), the essential format of Baptist worship remained consistent: prayers, Psalms, Scripture exposition, preaching and ordinances.

Happy Reformation Day – 2013!

On October 31, 1517, Dr. Martin Luther nailed a disputation against the sale of indulgences on Castle Church door (Thesentür in der Schlosskirche) in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was protesting the practices of Johann Tetzel who was a papel commissioner traveling through Germany raising funds from poor German peasants in order to build the stately St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for the Pope.

Tetzel

95 Theses

Luther’s students quickly translated Luther’s arguments from Latin to German, and with the aide of the recently invented printing press, were able to send copies throughout Germany. Luther became famous overnight and German peasants and theologians thronged Wittenberg to hear Luther preach.

A sampling of the 95 Theses may be found below. The full set may be found at the following link: Luther’s 95 Theses.


The 95 Theses

Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.
(Luther’s Preface to the 95 Theses)

  • When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
  • The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
  • The pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God…
  • There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.
  • It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God.
  • All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
  • We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them.
  • Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.
  • Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.
  • The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
  • The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting.
  • Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.
  • They ask, e.g.: Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter’s church, a very minor purpose.
  • Again: since the pope’s income to-day is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers?
  • Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ’s people, “Peace, peace,” where in there is no peace.

Analysis of the 95 Thesis

The 95 Theses are not totally Protestant and do not represent the mature thoughts of Luther the reformer (and are not a safe guide or Creed of Christian doctrine for the believer today), but were a very large step toward turning from the bondage of idolatry to the saving light of the gospel as found in the sacred Word. With the wide dissemination of Luther’s writings and preaching, the fire of God’s gospel truth had begun a grand and glorious work of purifying the church’s doctrine – a work against which the gates of hell have not prevailed.

SEMPER REFORMANDA!

Reformation Day

Reformation Day is a public holiday in many German states and is a Federal holiday in several other nations impacted by the reformation. Many Christian churches in the US designate the last Sunday before October 31 as Reformation Sunday, which I wholeheartedly support.

Whether we set a day aside or no, I think it is meet that we remember the great men and events the Lord has used to purify his Church and glorify His Holy Name.

Related links:

Do you think indulgences are a token of Dark Ages Superstition that have no relevance to our time – THINK AGAIN! The debate is as relevant to our time as it was to Luther’s.

The Teachings of Benjamin Keach

Junior Duran at The Confessing Baptist re-posted an article on Benjamin Keach from the Founder’s Ministry Journal (Journal 76 · Spring 2009). The article discusses the theological teachings of this important early leader of the Baptist faith (and ‘face’ of the Abraham’s Seed blog).


Tom Hicks on Benjamin Keach

Benjamin Keach was a pastor who suffered tremendous persecution for his Baptist convictions. He is credited for the Baptist catechism and numerous other edifying works about the Baptist faith. He is also credited for initiating congregational hymn singing in the Baptist chruches. Listed below are a few additional links regarding brother Keach.

Reformation Day 2012

Happy Be-Lated Reformation Day 2012! I hope you set time aside this past Wednesday to remember the cause of truth and to acknowledge those who have sacrificed everything for the sake of the gospel of grace and religious liberty (see What Protestants Believe).

No, I didn’t forget Reformation Day this year. I was unable to post as Hurricane Sandy knocked out our power for 3 days. Today, Abraham’s Seed is back up to 100%, by the grace of God.


My 2010 Reformation Day post featured the Morning Star of the Reformation, John Wycliffe. This year, I’d like to build on brother Wycliffe’s ministry and shift our focus to Bohemia.

In the late 1300s the nations of England and Bohemia were linked by inter-family marriages of the respective royal families creating a kinship between the two nations. University students from England flowed to Prague to study at the great university there and took Wycliffe’s ideas (or rather the Bible’s teaching) with them. Additionally, numerous Czechs studies in England and learned of Wycliffe’s teaching which was a hot topic in those days. Among those influenced by the power of the Scriptures was professor and soon-to-be preacher and rector of Prague University’s Bethlehem Chapel, Jon Hus.

The Archbishop of Prague was directed by the Pope to stamp out these new ‘heresies’, burn all of Wycliffe’s books, and stop Bible preaching. Hus refused to stop preaching and as a result, Hus was excommunicated (with little effect) from the church in 1411. Hus taught that the church was the company of all the elect in Christ, whose head was Christ not the Pope, and he attacked the sale of indulgences used by the Pope to fund an ambitious war against Naples. Hus opposed obedience to the Pope where the Pope was acting for his own personal profit and political interests rather than the interests of Christ’s Church. In such matters, Hus believed, the Pope and the church should be held against the standard of God’s infallible Word.

Hus was promised an opportunity to defend his views at the council of Constance in 1415 and was promised ‘safe conduct’ (protection) by the Roman Emperor. When Hus reached Constance, however, Roman authorities went back on their word and had him arrested and tried. To Hus’ false accusers he exclaimed, “I appeal to Jesus Christ, the only judge who is almighty and completely just. In his hands I place my cause…” Hus was convicted on false charges and was sentenced to be mercilessly burned at the stake unless he recanted his views. Knowing that a recantation would condemn all his fellow believers in Prague, Brother Hus stood firm and died the martyrs death on July 6, 1415. Hus was overheard quoting Scripture and praying for his enemies as he burned.

God is my witness that the evidence against me is false. I have never thought nor preached except with the one intention of winning men, if possible, from their sins. In the truth of the gospel I have written, taught, and preached: today I will gladly die.

The Bohemian reformation did not die with Hus, however. His fellow Bible believers were attacked by that antichristian popes and emperors on numerous occasions by failed crusades designed to end Bible Christianity in Bohemia. By the grace of God, small numbers of Bible believers remained in tact until the time of Luther and the wider Protestant Reformation.


For reference see my prior reformation day posts:

Ten Baptists Everyone Should Know

If you are a Baptist, the following series (in process) at Credo Magazine is required reading:
Ten Baptists Everyone Should Know at Credo Magazine.

[UPDATE 10 June]  Paul Helm also has an article at Credo Magazine: The Gift of Gill.

[UPDATE 3 July]  Dr. Michael Hayking answers the question about whether Andrew Fuller was a Calvinist at Credo Magazine: Did Andrew Fuller modify Calvinism?.