Nateby: Strict & Particular

I saw a sign for Nateby as I passed the market town of Garstang the other week. I knew there was there placed a Baptist chapel, but not an ordinary one. This one is something of a rarity away from the south of England, for it is a Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel. They used to be more plentiful in these parts, but many of them became Grace Baptists.

The word strict refers to their policy regarding communicants. Only church members may partake of the elements in the communion service. This takes the level of gathered church to a higher level. Instead of those just professing faith in Christ, the memorial is reserved for those for whom the local church can vouch. It’s not an approach we would take at Salem Chapel but it could certainly be justified from scripture.


The word particular is a little more controversial. It refers to particular redemption, sometimes called limited atonement. It is the principle that Christ died only for those whom the Father elected to be saved. I don’t see it clearly taught in the scriptures but it is a logical corollary of election, which certainly is. The SPs would go on to argue that the free offer of the gospel must not be made to all people; they have no duty to believe a message they are incapable of accepting. Consequently, evangelistic endeavour is limited to explanations of the gospel rather than exhortations to repent and believe. This ‘high Calvinism’ once put them odds with Charles Spurgeon and the more moderate of the reformed brethren in the nineteenth-century.

I have developed a friendship with a Strict and Particular Baptist minister; I suspect that their more northerly folk are on more amicable terms with non-SPs than might be found among their stricter, southern comrades ‘of the causes of truth’. While noseying around the chapel’s graveyard, I was struck by the tombstone of one Grace, buried there at Nateby. She’s been home some time now, but her inscribed death poem is true of all believers, even those of us less strict and not so particular:

When I can read my title clear

To mansions in the skies,

I bid farewell to every fear

And wipe my weeping eyes.

Like many of her fellow denominationalists, Grace may have been a grave, serious woman, not given to frivolity or unnecessary humour. Now, she’s more full of joy than anyone on earth.

I pray God’s blessing on Nateby’s strict and particular baptists. Their website is here.