I believe the first church was organized by Jesus in Jerusalem during His earthly ministry, and that it was a Strict and Particular Baptist congregation. I also believe there has been an unbroken witness (though not necessarily an unbroken ‘chain’) of such churches from then till now, and that there have been hundreds of congregations scattered around various parts of the world. However, many of these churches were never given a name, nor were their existence known or documented. On the other hand, there were times when such churches were widely known and their history recorded. This is the case with the circle of churches scattered across England that have been distinguished by the name “Strict and Particular Baptists”.

The first such church on record was organized in 1633, on Little Prescot Street, London. Her pastor was John Spilsbury, who was one of the ministers to sign the First London Baptist Confession of Faith 1644. While some argue Spilsbury did not nurture high views of sovereign grace, I believe he certainly leaned in that direction, given the historical context that such issues were not yet a subject of controversy. Another church organized around the same time (1650) still exists today, the Metropolitan Tabernacle. In 1720, John Gill became the fourth pastor of this church at the age of 22. Gill served as pastor for 51 years, and is arguably one of the greatest Baptist theologians of any century. Apart from separate books and treatises, he has bequeathed to the world a comprehensive commentary on the Old and New Testaments and an exhaustive statement of faith in a doctrinal and practical body of divinity. The depth and breadth of his writings remain unequalled today.

Concerned for the doctrinal fidelity of his congregation, Gill drafted a new statement of faith for the church (Carter Lane Declaration 1757). These Articles of Faith became the basis upon which hundreds of Strict and Particular Baptist churches drafted their own doctrinal statements.

Articles of Faith and Church Rules of sixty-plus Strict and Particular Baptist Churches. Special thanks to the Strict Baptist Historical Society.

This circle of churches stood against the false gospel preached by the Arminians (those who followed the teachings of a 16th century Dutch theologian named Jacobus Arminius), as well as the perverted gospel preached by the Fullerites (those who followed the teachings of a 19th century Baptist theologian named Andrew Fuller).

An example of this can be given during the 19th century, by comparing a typical Strict and Particular Baptist church with a Fullerite Baptist church. The church that had been pastored by John Gill just 80 years before, was now overseen by Charles Spurgeon. Unlike Gill, Spurgeon believed in an open communion table and he espoused Fullerite views. Henceforth, Spurgeon preached a diluted gospel, driven by a duty-faith message and delivered with a free offer sale’s pitch. Not far from Spurgeon’s Tabernacle (which averaged an attendance of 6,000) was a large Strict and Particular Baptist church called Surrey Tabernacle (which averaged an attendance of 2,000).

Metropolitan Tabernacle, pastored by Charles Spurgeon.

Surrey Tabernacle, pastored by James Wells

Surrey Tabernacle was overseen by James Wells. Spurgeon and Wells did not get along, as Wells frequently defended the gospel by highlighting the Fullerite views of Spurgeon.

James Wells

Charles Spurgeon

This example illustrates the stark contrast between the circle of churches known as the Strict and Particular Baptists, and the others which subscribed to Arminian and Fullerite teachings. As I’ve indicated in a previous answer, the true standard-bearers of the Fullerites (men such as Spurgeon) are the modern-day Reformed Baptists, whereas the standard-bearers of the Strict and Particular Baptists (men such as Gill) are the modern-day Strict and Particular Baptists.


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