“Keach, who was at one time a General Baptist, later had a long and influential ministry among the Particular Baptists. In a book published in 1689, he attempted to interpret baptism “in its primitive purity,” and in so doing provided modest but clear evidence for a sacramental understanding of baptism. First of all, he referred to “the special ends of this holy Sacrament,” showing that this leading signatory of the Second London Confession did not assume that baptism was an “ordinance” as opposed to a “sacrament.” Second, he referred to baptism as “the Baptism of Remission of Sins” (with reference to Acts 2:38) and “the Washing of Regeneration” (with reference to Titus 3:5), without any apparent nervousness about the language. Third, he indicated that baptism looks forward to salvation as its goal:
Consider the great Promises made to those who are obedient to it, amongst other things, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the World. And again, He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved. If a Prince shall offer a Rebel his Life in doing two things, would he neglect one of them, and say this I will do, but the other is a trivial thing, I’ll not do that? Surely no, he would not run the hazard of his Life so foolishly … And then in Acts 2.38. Repent, and be baptized every one of you for Remission of Sin, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit: See what great Promises are made to Believers in Baptism.
Fourth, and most clearly, Keach quoted approvingly from Stephen Charnock (1628-1680), a Puritan pastor who spoke “excellently” in Keach’s opinion on the connection between baptism and regeneration:
Outward Water cannot convey inward Life. How can Water, an external thing, work upon the Soul in a physical manner: Neither can it be proved, that ever the Spirit of God is ty’d by any Promise, to apply himself to the Soul in a gracious Operation, when Water is applyed to the Body . . . Baptism is a means of conveying Grace, when the Spirit is pleased to operate with it; but it doth not work a physical Cause upon the Soul as a Purge doth upon the Humours of the Body: for ’tis the Sacrament of Regeneration, as the Lord’s Supper is of Nourishment … Faith only is the Principle of spiritual Life, and the Principle which draws Nourishment from the Means of God’ s Appointments.
The specific point at issue in this quotation is the practice of baptizing infants who cannot confess faith, so that Keach’s primary concern was to argue that baptism does not accomplish regeneration in any mechanical way and is thus of no value in the case of purely passive infants. However, he argued this point, with Charnock’s help, by asserting that the true way in which baptism works is as an instrument of the Spirit who sovereignly employs it in the regeneration of conscious believers. That is, although baptism has no inherent power, it is by the work of the Holy Spirit an effective sign, instrumentally conveying what it signifies. It is a sign, but not merely a sign.”
 Stanley K. Fowler, More than A Symbol: The British Baptist Recovery of Baptismal Sacramentalism (Studies in Baptist History and Thought; 2002), pp 29-30.