John Spilsbury was a minister of the antipacdobaptist denomination. Upon his embracing these sentiments, he is said to have gone into Holland to be baptized by Mr. John Smyth; after, which he returned to England, and began to baptize adults bv immersion. Crosby, however, attempts to clear him of this, and to prove that he did not go abroad for this purpose; but with what degree of success we will not undertake to determine.^ In the year 1633, part of Mr. John Lathorp's church, in London, having espoused the sentiments of the baptists, desired to be dismissed from the church, and to be a lowed to form a distinct congregation. "The church," it is observed,
• Impeachment of Biehop Pierce, p. 8.
+ Walker's Attempt, part ii. p. 183.
1 Wood's Athena- Oxon. vol. i. p. 800.
$ Crosby's Baptists, vol. i. p. 96,103,104.
"having grown very numerous, and being more ihan could in those times of persecution conveniently meet together, and believing that those persons acted from a principle of conscience, and not obstinacy, agreed to allow them the liberty they desired." They formed themselves, therefore, into a distinct church, September 12, 1633, and chose Mr. Spilsbury to the office of pastor. This church, which settled in Wapping, is thought to have been the first baptist congregation in England.* In the year 1C38, Mr. William Kiffin, Mr. Thomas Wilson, and other celebrated persons, became members of this church,+ and the society appears to. have been in a flourishing condition.
In process of time, however, some disputes arose among the members, on the subject of mixed communion. Those who opposed it withdrew, and formed a separate society,under. the care of Mr. Kiffin. This separation is said to have taken place in 1653, soon after which the present baptist meetingbouse in Devonshire-square was built, where Mr. Kiffin and his church assembled for public worship.; Mr. Spilsbury, in 1644, subscribed the confession of faith set forth in the name of the seven baptist congregations in London; but when he died we have not been able to learn; It appears that after the above separation he went to Ireland, where he was highly respected. Henry Cromwell, in a letter dated Dublin, March 8, 1654, addressed to Secretary Thurloe, speaks in high terms of dim.* He was a man of an excellent spirit and great moderation.|| He published a piece entitled, " The peculiar Interest of the Elect in Christ and his Saving Grace."