Chapter III:19: Specific Marks Differentiating True and False Religion
Now, the More Specific Marks, also sought out of the Scriptures, will prove the excellence of the Reformed Religion above all others. They are these:
1. Esteem of and attention to the Scriptures, 2 Peter 1:19, 20, upon which passage consult my Commentary. This obtains in the Reformed Religion, in comparison with that of the Papists, who next to the Sacred Scripture urge Traditions, and even cause the authority of Scripture to depend upon the Church, keep the common people from the Reading of the Scripture as well; and what things might be able to be alleged here in addition are reviewed one-by-one by GERHARD, Confessione catholica, tome I, book I, generalis, posterior part, chapter IV, which is de Scripturæ Sacræ apud Pontificios æstimio, pages 337-349: in comparison with that of the Socinians also, who hold corrupt Reason equally as a principium of Religion, and urge this as the norm of the interpretation of Sacred Scripture: in comparison with that of the Enthusiasts, who venerate a private Spirit more than the Sacred Scripture.
2. A most efficacious impetus unto Piety, Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; John 13:17; 1 Timothy 1:5. Now, this in appearance seems to be large in the Papal doctrine concerning the merits of works; all those Pelagianizing calumniate that the same is also taken away in our doctrine through the dogmas of predestination, vocation, justification, and preservation: but whoever looks more closely into our doctrine of Religion, and compare it with the system of the rest that enjoy the Christian name; will hold it necessary to confess that our doctrine in this aspect also takes the palm before the rest.
3. The most powerful Consolation of afflicted Conscience, Romans 15:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17. And again, this is plainly immense and divine in our doctrine: on the other hand, not in the Papal Religion, in which they preach human satisfactions, sacerdotal absolutions, an enormous number of Sacraments, the intercession of Saints, Purgatory, the Mass; nor in the Socinian or other Religions of those Pelagianizing, is solid Consolation able to be found.
4. Finally, the highest acknowledgement and proclamation of the Glory of God with the abnegation of the Creature, Psalm 115:1; Proverbs 16:4. Again, this Mark obtains in the Reformed Religion alone, while in the other assemblies of those that are called Christians the glory of man’s salvation in the greatest part is attributed to man himself. Unto this Mark ought to be referred that Rule that also in the Reformed Religion alone is well observed: “Nothing is to be attributed to God, which is not in every respect Independent: and what is absolutely Independent is to be ascribed to Him alone.” On § XVIII, XIX, compare WITSIUS’ Practyke des Christendoms, pages 24-43.