The entire book, The Scriptures Sufficiency to Determine All Matters of Faith: or, That a Christian may be infallibly certain of his Faith and Religion in the Holy Scriptures, is comprised of stating a position that deals with the ambivalence among believers as the correctness of Popish, Calvinistic, and Lutheran doctrine. Twisse raises objection after objection to which position is correct and then argues didactically from Scripture to say that one can have certain and infallible faith in God’s written word. Because of Twisse’s renown as for his extraordinary knowledge of logic, philosophy, and divinity, in 1643 he was nominated, by order of Parliament as prolocutor [presiding officer] to the Westminster Assembly of Divines. What follows is a brief excerpt of Twisse’s argument.
In this section below Twisse deals with the source of faith and thus the nature of the faith based on the source. In the first paragraph he argues for a certain faith based on the examples found in Hebrews 11 and particularly that of Abraham. This certain faith is not hypothetical or theological but practical and demonstrable. In the second paragraph Twisse, for the sake of argument, questions his own conclusions as to whether certain faith can be derived by natural means which he rejects by references to Matt. 16, 1 Cor. 2:14, Isa. 53:1, John 12:39, Rom. 8:8, Acts 18:27, Phil. 1:29, and Rom. 11:30. In the last paragraph Twisse shows that the nature of faith is determined by the speaker – men, angels, God. Only faith in God’s Word is divine faith and can thus be held certainly forever. Twisse argues that it is absurd “seeing faith is no faith, unless it depend upon some word, that God should work his faith by another word than his own, is an uncouth and contradictious assertion I should think as ever was heard among the learned.”
“Let us inquire, Whether a man can have any certain faith at all? 1 answer. 1. They may, for many have had it, as it is defined by S. Paul, Heb. 11. to be the evidence of things not seen, the ground for things hoped for, and there the Apostle reckons up a catalogue of many that had such faith. I presume the propounder of this, if he be Christian, makes no question thereof. And that Abraham the Father of the faithful, Rom. 4:18, 19, 20, was such a one. Who against hope believed in hope, and being not weak in the faith, he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and that all true children of Abraham had like faith as Abraham had.
But then let us distinguish when we treat of possibility, this may be understood either in reference to the power of nature, or in respect of the power of God. And according to this distinction I answer, that it is utterly impossible to believe this by the power of nature, Matt. 16, Flesh and blood had not revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven; and 1 Cor. 2:14, The natural man perceives not the things of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned; and Isa. 53:1, Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?; and John 12:39, Therefore they could not believe, because Esaias saith again. He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I should heal them. And Rom. 8:8, They that are in the flesh cannot please God, and consequently they cannot have faith, for surely by faith we please God. But then on the other side, it is most true, that by the power of God a man may believe, Acts 18:27, They believed through grace; and Phil. 1:29, To you it is given not only to believe in him, but to suffer for him, and to believe and find mercy at God’s hands are all one, Rom. 11:30.
Now if it be granted that faith may be had in what degree of certainty forever, what sober Christian can make doubt but that if question be made about the means whereby we may have it, it may be had by holy Scriptures as well as by any other means? Yea and far better, considering that faith is in the proper notion thereof the assent to somewhat from the authority of the speaker, and if the speaker is but a man, it is no better that human faith; if the speaker be God, that and that alone makes it to be faith divine. Now we all confess, that the holy Scripture is the Word of God, and therefore if by any word faith may be had in what degree of certainty forever, sure it may be held by the Word of God. Yes, and that no other way can Divine Faith be had by the Word of God, not by the word of the creature, whether man or Angel. And if faith may be wrought by the power of God’s Spirit in the heart of any man, he that makes question whether this may be done by the holy Scriptures, had need of some good measure of Ellebore [a natural medication] to purge his brain, for he seems to me to be in the next degree to a madman. For seeing faith is no faith, unless it depend upon some word, that God should work his faith by another word than his own, is an uncouth and contradictious assertion I should think as ever was heard among the learned.”
[Restating Orthodox Protestant theology, faith in God is derived only from the Word of God and not through some human intermediary. This is one reason why Bullinger argues, to summarize, that the only authority the Church possesses is to say those things God has already said in his Word. According to Twisse, presiding officer of the 1643 Westminster Assembly, faith in anything other than God’s Word is not faith at all. It is “faith human” as he describes it, or faith that places its confidence in man rather than God. Such faith cannot be certain or forever in that its object is relative and finite. With the bifurcation of Bibliology from Orthodox theology by critical scholars and Evangelical surrogates, the origin of the contemporary uncertainty and relativity of Scripture becomes clear. Faith in man has usurped faith in God.]
William Twisse (1578-1646), The Scriptures Sufficiency to Determine All Matters of Faith: or, That a Christian may be infallibly certain of his Faith and Religion in the Holy Scriptures (London: Printed for Matthew Keynton, at the Fountain in St. Pauls Churchyard, 1656), 17-20.