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William Twisse (1578-1646)

Database

William Twisse (1578-1646)

James Dodson

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

 William Twisse was born near Newbury, England, in 1578. Educated at Winchester, at the age of eighteen he moved to New College, Oxford. In 1604, he received his degree in Master of Arts and, that same year, was ordained to the ministry. In 1614, he was awarded a Doctorate in Divinity. From an early age he was noted for his profound erudition and his fame came to the attention of the court of King James who appointed him chaplain to Lady Elizabeth in her travels to the Palatine. Upon return, he became the minister of Newbury. When the Book of Sports was issued in 1617/8, Twisse refused to read and publicly declared himself against it. Though many Puritan ministers were suspended from the ministry or even imprisoned, King James allowed Twisse to remain unmolested because of his reputation in all the Reformed churches. In 1643, he was chosen to be the prolocutor to the Assembly of Divines  to be seated at Westminster. He opened the Assembly with a sermon, on July 1, 1643. In his sermon he exhorted his learned auditory to “a faithful discharge of their duty, and to promote the glory of God and the honour of his church; but he was sorry that they lacked the royal assent. He hoped, however, that in due time it might be obtained, and that a happy union would be procured between the king and parliament.” Due to his age, Dr. Twisse was not able to attend the Assembly for long. Within a few months he was taken ill and Cornelius Burgess was chosen to take his place. He died July 20, 1646, after a lengthy time being bedridden, and the whole House of Commons and Assembly of Divines paid tribute to this great man. Among his last words, he said, “I shall at length have leisure enough to follow my studies to all eternity.” Twisse was a noted controversialist, a high Calvinist (Supralapsarian) and a staunch defender of the morality of the Fourth commandment. His writings were mainly on these topics.

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