Historical Fragments

This monthly blog series is a collection of historical extracts taken from confessional Baptists of the past. However, each article aims at showing the ongoing relevance of God’s word due to its eternal nature.

Poverty, Wasteful and Carping-Care

Ironically (or maybe not so ironically), poverty and wastefulness will always characterise this world until the consummation of all things in Christ. Unsurprisingly, the cares of this world will inevitably consume those overtaken by these two evils, and only the Gospel of Jesus Christ resulting in true godliness can deliver us.

Godliness & Poverty

In ‘Travels of True Godliness’, written by Benjamin Keach, the hero, Godliness, knocks on the door of Poverty. He receives no readier a welcome than he did with Riches. However, Godliness urges Poverty to respond to the gospel. As part of his entreaties, Godliness says,

Benjamin Keach (1640-1704)

Benjamin Keach was a General Baptist pastor who became convinced of the truth of Calvinism. He pastored the church at Horsley-down in Southwark which became eventually the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

‘As to those indolent companions, Sloth and Idleness, who would not wish you to labour for the good either of body or soul, they have in part brought you into this poor and miserable condition. How many have they brought to beg their bread from door to door! … But the greatest mischief they do, is to the souls of men; for they cast thousands into such a deep sleep, that they will never awake till they lift up their eyes in hell. They will not suffer them to labour to find out their danger, till it is too late; and others, when they do perceive their woeful condition, are hindered by them from endeavouring timely, and in a right manner, to get out. They many times cry, “Lord, help us!” and “Lord, have mercy upon us!” but never strive to take hold of the offers of his grace and mercy, by cleaving to Christ, and leaving their abominable wickedness. It is the idle soul that suffers hunger, who shall beg at harvest, and have nothing; though there is bread enough and to spare in God’s house, yet they will not suffer you to seek for it; but cause you to cry; “Yet a little sleep, yet a little slumber, yet a little folding of the hands to sleep” Prov. xxiv. 33. Is it not sad, notwithstanding your case is so unspeakably urgent, you cannot through Sloth and Idleness rise up? You are just ready to drop into ruin, and yet will not endeavour to deliver your own soul. O remember that word! “Take the slothful and unprofitable servant, and bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Matt. Xxv. 30.’

In the excerpt above, Keach wisely emphasises that just because a person is poor, it does not mean that they are more likely by nature to embrace the gospel. Godliness states, It is the idle soul that suffers hunger, who shall beg at harvest, and have nothing”. 

Imagine a poor, unemployed, and perhaps homeless man who comes to your church. He needs and is given some physical help, such as food and money. He admits that his life is a mess but blames others. He is told the good news that Jesus saves sinners. He is given a Bible and urged to return and follow up. He never opens the Bible; he never comes back. His sinful heart is what has led him to be indolent about his body, and it is what causes him to be indolent about his soul. He needs awakening by God; if he is converted, it will transform his attitude to physical as well as spiritual matters.


Godliness then speaks to Poverty regarding Wasteful, the brother of a thief named Light-fingers.

‘Wasteful, his brother, is almost as bad as he. It was this vain fellow that brought the poor prodigal to eat husks with the swine, Luke xv. It is he who not only causes you to waste, and foolishly spend your money, but also your precious time, which should be improved for the good of your perishing soul. Poverty, can it do you any harm to be taught to become a better husband, and not to consume the little you sometimes get, amongst riotous company, which might be a great comfort to your poor wife and children? Let me now appeal to my neighbour Morality, whether there is any ground for you to refuse to entertain me, because I teach you to be content with mean things, hard fare, and put you upon severe labour, and tell you not to run into debt, unless you know how to pay.’ 

Does preaching morality to the unsaved sound strange? What if we replace ‘morality’ with ‘The Moral Law’- does this sound strange? If so, we are out of step with the Reformers, Puritans and Confessional Baptists like Keach. We have run into easy-believism; we have replaced free grace with cheap grace by offering forgiveness to unrepentant sinners.

Calling sinners to repentance involves rightly teaching the promises of the provision in Christ and demonstrating our trust in them in our Christian lives.


Finally, Godliness addresses one named Carping-Care.

‘As touching Carping-Care, he hath almost broken thy heart already: he will not let thee sleep at night : but by telling thee of thy wants of necessities, sadly disturbs thy mind, though he never gave thee a farthing; and why shouldst thou hearken to

him any longer? He is thy utter enemy as well as mine. Turn him away, and Christ will care for you. He has depressed thy spirits, weakened thy body, and marred thy senses, especially the spiritual senses of thy soul: so that thou canst not think one serious thought all the day. Nay, when Sloth and Idleness will even let thee go to hear God’s word, he follows thee thither too: and so confounds thy mind with wandering thoughts, that devotion is spoiled, and you profit nothing; therefore, I beseech you, thrust him out.’

Many people have difficult circumstances. Their worry is understandable. Yet to be faithful, we must tell them that it is sinful. All failure to trust in God and Christ (Jn. 14:10) is sinful. Faithfulness demands that we call sinners to repent of their faithless worry, which stems from unbelief in a God of all-love and all-power. ‘It is the Gentiles who run after these things’- food and clothing- and do not trust God as their heavenly Father. Therefore, calling sinners to repentance involves rightly teaching the promises of the provision in Christ and demonstrating our trust in them in our Christian lives.

Picture of John Palmer

John Palmer

John was in local church ministry throughout England and Wales for nearly forty years, he is spending his retirement at Aughton Park Baptist Church in Lancashire, England.