Blog 28: 1.14.6 - 1.14.11

Justin Taylor

In section 6 Calvin shows that God often dispenses and administers his goodness to us through his angels. Do we each have a guardian angel (section 7)? Calvin doesn't know. He does know from Scripture that the protection of an individual is not the task of one angel only, but "all with one consent watch over our salvation." Many people find comfort in the thought of a guardian angel; how much more so to think that we are protected by all the heavenly host!
Calvin provides a few Scriptural hints regarding the hierarchy, number, and form of angels (section 8), but urges patience until the final day of revelation. We know certain things--e.g., spirits have a real existence (section 9)--but the general rule of thumb is don't "probe too curiously or talk too confidently."

In section 10 he corrects the idea--still common today in popular culture--that angels minster and dispense all good things to us such that no honor is withheld from them. But providence and glory properly belong to God alone.

In section 11 Calvin reiterates that God often uses angels (1) to declare his power; (2) to provide for the safety of believers, and (3) to communicate the gifts of his goodness to them. But wouldn't the superstition refuted in section 10 be avoided if God did all of this directly, rather than through angels? Calvin offers a creative answer: God does not of course use angels of necessity, but rather as a way to comfort us. Even though the promise that God alone will protect us should be sufficient, he accommodates to our weakness by providing greater comfort knowing that we have innumerable guardians looking after our safety.

One of the things that Calvin is modeling for us in these sections (and those to come) is that we must avoid the twin errors of thinking too little about angels and thinking too much about them. Let us endeavor to follow the path of Scripture as we seek to teach and follow the whole counsel of God.