JOHN SPILSBURY 1593 - 1668


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John Spilsbury was a cobbler and/or 'hay weigher' in London.

It is generally agreed that Particular Baptists began to separate from other dissident/independent congregations in 1633 and began to form their own churches. A group of Calvinistic believers who could not agree on infant baptism sought permission to leave their Congregationalist church and form their own congregation. This was found agreeable to the church and so the brethren separated on peaceable terms on the 12th September 1633.

It is understood that this first church consisted of a least 20 believers who were re-baptised as believers, and others. Among these was William Kiffin (1616-1701). The pastor of this first church was John Spilsbury (1593-1668). The church was known to meet in Broad Street, Old Gravel Lane, Wapping.

Though this churches practiced Believer's Baptism, it did not originally totally immerse believers in the baptism rite.

This church later split over whether unbaptised men should preach in the church or not. Those that disagreed separated from the church and formed another church which met in Devonshire Square. William Kiffin was appointed to pastor the church, which he did until his death in 1701.

In 1643, Spilsbury wrote a book concerning baptism, which he followed up with a further work in 1646, also on baptism, but also dealing with Particular Redemption.

In 1644 there were at least seven Particular Baptist churches in London and these formulated together what has come down to us as the '1644 First Particular Baptist Confession of Faith.' Apparently Particular Baptists had suffered much slander from ignorant persons who had associated them with General Baptists and Anabaptists of continental Europe. The confession was put together as a defence against these attacks and did much to help put the record straight.

It is believed that Spilsbury, if he didn't author the confession of faith, certainly played a major role in its formation, along with the likes of William Kiffin and Samuel Richardson (all of whom were among those who signed the confession).

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UPDATED: 18 April 2014

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