A Tribute to Elder Benjamin Keith

It is my painful duty to give notice through your columns to the many thousands of brethren and friends here in the west, of the death of our highly esteemed and much beloved brother, Elder Benjamin Keith, which occurred at his residence in Meade Co., Ky., on the morning of June 28, 1876. Seven days more would have completed his 84th year, having been born July 4, 1792.

The subject of this notice was a remarkable character. He was baptized at the age of seventeen, and immediately commenced exhorting, and was soon after licensed to exercise his remarkable gift, but was not ordained until in his 27th year, since which time, for fifty-seven years, he gave incontestible evidence of his call to the work of the gospel ministry, having made full proof of his ministry. The first time I heard him preach, he preached in my father's house one evening, from the text, "I went down into the garden of nuts, to see the fruits of the valley," &c., (this was at the time many of us were arranging to leave the United Baptists) and while he was speaking he seemed carried away with the subject, as were many of us; at least I felt just as the last verse of the text expresses it, "Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib," or, set me on the chariots of my willing people. My very soul breathed the language of the Moabitess, "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee. For whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried," - with the Regular Baptists. It seemed that the Lord had sent him among us to let us know that there were many of our faith (anti-mission) in counties below us, who were leaving the churches because of missionism. Not long after this, the Otter Creek Association of Regular Baptists was constituted, and it was within its bounds (in Ky.) and that of Salem, Little Zion and Blue and Lost River Associations, of Indiana, that he labored, and certainly no man's labors were more blessed. I think it scarcely possible that any man since the days of Paul (though I have seen many faithful servants) ever labored with more zeal, whose heart and soul were more fully engaged, to serve the church and to honor God; who manifested more implicit confidence and faith in God that he would sustain and protect him and his family. No amount of labor in travel, whether on horseback or on foot, was ever regarded. He would travel as many as twenty miles Saturday morning, on foot, to his appointments, leaving his horse in the field plowing. Neither cold nor heat, rain nor snow, nor any circumstance of his own person or that of his family, except alone that of sickness, would keep him from his appointments. And yet there never was a more loving husband, tender-hearted father, or a more industrious man. He once told me that on one occasion, when he was in rather straitened circumstances, he left his family to be gone several days, without leaving enough about his house for their next meal, and no one in the neighborhood knew it; but when he returned, his family had not only lacked for nothing, but had an abundant supply! This is but one instance out of many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of a similar character. Even when he had an abundance on his farm, and circumstances prevented him making the necessary preparations before leaving home, he never stopped to inquire who was to prepare it for him, having no time to look for one to do so; notwithstanding, when he returned he never found that his family wanted or lacked anything. I repeat it, he ever trusted God for life and all things. He observed Paul's charge, he preached the word, was instant in season and out of season, reproved, rebuked, and exhorted, with all long-suffering and doctrine. He preached the doctrine of God our Savior. In his preaching he was generally carried away with his subject. He scarcely ever ceased to preach when in company with the brethren. It was his life, his meat, his drink, to honor and glorify God, and on his death-bed about his last audible words were, "I want to glorify God as long as I live."

Joseph E. Settle
New Hope, Kentucky.

Copied from the Signs of the Times, 1876, Vol. 44, page 251.

The first Baptist preacher in Meade County was Elder Squire Boone, brother of Daniel Boone. Next in order came Elder Warren Cash, who was born in Virginia in 1760. He came to Kentucky in 1784. In 1799 Elders William Hickman and John Penny ordained him to the gospel ministry. Elders Benjamin Keith and Enos Keith, and John Rush, were raised up under his preaching, and were baptized by him. Enos and Benjamin Keith were sons of Alexander Keith, a Virginian who came to Kentucky soon after the Revolution. Elder Enos Keith, born in 1788, was ordained in 1811. He was never married, and died in 1824. Elder Benjamin Keith began preaching a little later, and was identified with the Otter Creek Association of Regular Baptists, which was organized October 25, 1839. Elder Benjamin Keith was a remarkable preacher and did much good in all this section. He died while visiting relatives at Joplin, Missouri, in 1876, and is buried there.

Elder Benjamin Keith visited the Salem Association of Illinois in 1846.

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