A Genoese Mind in Medieval Europe. Ithaca - London, Cornell University Press, Christian Oertel.
Olaf B. Hokus Pokus. Bluthostien zwischen Wunderglaube und Budenzauber. Paderborn, Wilhelm Fink, Charles Caspers - Peter Jan Margry. Het Mirakel van Amsterdam.
Biografie van een betwiste devotie. Amsterdam, Prometheus, Matthias Emil Ilg. Constantia et fortitudo. Holy Putna Monastery. Treasury of Putna Monastery. Embroideries and Fabrics. Editura Mitropolit Iacov Putneanul, Angels of Light? Leiden - Boston, Brill, Review: G. Discerning Angels in later seventeenth-century England more. Officially, formal Protestant theology insisted that angels no longer appeared to men. Although in the early Christian era God had employed angels to reveal his will as a concession to the weakness and frailty of mankind, by the sixteenth The logical consequences of this was that all non-scriptural or patristic examples of angelic apparitions were either popish tricks, hallucinations or cases of demonic deception.
However, in a recent Past and Present article on angelic interventions in post-Reformation England, Alexandra Walsham has demonstrated that the precepts of formal theology differed somewhat from lived realities Walsham, A complicated mix of social, cultural, and political factors could come together to make an apparition credible — although these instances were relatively rare.
In the later seventeenth century, the growth of mechanical philosophy and materialism was to have a profound effect on the relative equilibrium of Protestant attitudes towards apparitions of angels. New intellectual currents that were potentially corrosive of all kinds of supernatural belief prompted clergymen to defences of such apparitions that were more strident than those of their predecessors.
This paper will explore these new attitudes towards apparitions of angels, revealing how the threat of irreligion was offset by recourse to empirical data, and illustrating that broader intellectual trends could instigate a more positive discernment of apparitions than had previously held sway. In sixteenth- and seventeenth- century England, faith in the reality of the existence of angels was a commonplace. These spiritual beings occupied a place one step down from God, one step up from men in the universal hierarchy and as As a result, numerous responsibilities and theological assumptions were associated with these evocative and often mysterious supernatural beings in official discourse, as Protestants of every confessional stripe sought to utilise the potential of belief about angels to educate and instruct the laity.
Angels were therefore ubiquitous in the strategies and methods employed by a variety of religious reformers seeking to shape and influence the beliefs of the laity. This paper seeks to explore the diffusion of this belief amongst the English laity. The discussion is intended to demonstrate the cultural pervasiveness of belief about angels, and the main emphasis and expectations that people harboured at a more popular level. This article explores perceptions surrounding angels and the afterlife in England, examining the role that angels had in the strategies adopted by Christians to conceptualise and prepare for the Apocalypse as foretold in the Book of Discerning the claims of visionaries was always a public process, subject to the forming of communal consensus.
Early modern Christians could draw on a vast arsenal of authorities Scripture, prelates, Church Fathers, learned theologians, signs and miracles, and experiential knowledgein order to discern. Even if arguments could not be definitive, alternative voices such as the English Anabaptist criticising predestination, or Melchor Cano attacking the Spiritual Exercises could be silenced.
In multiconfessional Europe assent never needed to be universal, and as already noted, criticism from opponents could even be empowering. This brings us to the fourth and final theme stressed in this volume. By their very nature, visions were an individual experience, but their discernment was of a wider significance. As Sluhovsky has shown convincingly, cases of mass possession amongst Catholic Europes female religious invited discernment not only by the divinely or demonically possessed nuns themselves but by an arsenal of exorcists and theologians.
Indeed, visionary experiences would not have come down to us had they remained private. Whilst the recipients of visions were themselves called upon to discern the origins of their own experiences, wider bodies of believers were also engaged in discernment, struggling to classify, report, and depict the experiences of others. As Colin Thompson shows, however certain Teresa of Avila herself felt about the origins of her experiences, she nevertheless desperately sought a confessor who would understand her and felt greatly troubled by those who were convinced she was deluded.
The process of discernment, then, is best understood as a social and communal one. The idea that visions invited public scrutiny needs no argument. Visions and visionaries could pose a challenge to authority, not least because the danger of false visions was that a person might deceive many. But it is easy to lose track of the fact that, among all the concern and anxiety about false or diabolical experiences, true revelations might nourish and instruct a whole community. The question Cui bono?
What was at stake? It is with this in mind that Clare Copeland explores the visionary experiences of Maria Maddelena de Pazzi recorded in detail by her fellow nuns who discerned their meaning, observed her countenance and sought her holiness. Their transfer of Maria Maddelenas visions and sanctity onto paperand assuming responsibility for any mistakesplayed an important role in authenticating their sisters experiences. Similarly, Jan Machielsen shows how the imitative aspect of the cult of saints offered a group of Jesuit hagiographers the possibility of participating in the sanctity of their objects of study.
The textual nature of their source material meant that discernment was no longer a pressing concern. Instead, the truth of their sources became an act of faith and any dubious facts were dismissed as inconvenient, scribal interpolations, the product of textual corruptions. The fact that visions needed to be authenticated within the public domain made them a resource that could be shared and could be contested.
The wide-ranging essays in this volume present a compelling new case for the importance of discernment as a point of contact and a point of dispute between the many different groups of believers that comprised Reformation Europe. Discernment, as a personal pursuit and as a collective one, was inexorably linked to the identification of sanctity, both real and false. As Moshe Sluhovsky has shown elsewhere, even the discernment of demonic possession could be of positive value for the person possessed and the exorcists guiding her.
To be deemed worthy of attack constituted a mark of holiness. But the same, of course, is equally true for revelations of divine origin. Protestants too were keen to identify particularly holy people or prophets, even if they were not then treated as miraculous intercessors, and this likewise involved discerning the truth of a persons deeds and motives. Despite differences in terminology and in the belief in what those in heaven could do for those on earth, discernment played an essential role within both Catholic and Protestant attempts at identifying and bolstering holiness. In the pre-modern world, spiritual creatures were widely, if not universally, believed to exist.
However, people in the past seem to have felt the same uncertainty and ambiguity in meeting them as would be felt about mysterious apparitions or presences at any time and place. An apparition might be an illusion; it might be a manifestation of a malevolent intelligence; it might be a sign or messenger from God. It might alsoas far as one can uncover the assumptions of vernacular beliefsbe a visitation from one of many kinds of intelligent but not human beings, whose existence was presupposed in regional traditions of storytelling and ritual. The impressions formed by the alleged presence of spirits were essentially transient, unstable, and ambiguous.
Therefore, even within any one reasonably consistent layer of belief about such creatures, it was necessary to work out by some means or other what each appearance, manifestation, or message might represent. This exercise amounted to discerning the true nature of a spirit.
Sanctity and the Discernment of Spirits in the Early Modern Period "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Sanctity and the Discernment of Spirits in the Early Modern Period (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions) (): Clare Copeland: Books .
Discernment of spirits became, in the religious thought of the Middle Ages, both an ecclesiastical procedure and a personal gift or charism. Typically, a pastoral theologian or more educated priest would claim to discern that an apparition previously thought to be benign or morally neutral might be, after all, an illusion or snare of the devil. In such circumSee e. Ludovicus Ellies du Pin, 5 vols. The Hague, , vol. The Church discerned that a particular kind of creature could not exist in the way in which traditional lore assumed.
Therefore stories about it had to be fitted into or assimilated to the theologically approved dualistic structure of angels and demons and usually, in case of even the least ambiguity, to the latter.
Theologians throughout the Middle Ages, but especially in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, expended much energy on two related tasks. One involved the sorting out of the physical, metaphysical, and ethical properties of spiritual beings or separated intelligences on the plane of pure abstraction. In the sixteenth century, beliefs about spirits came in for the same intense scrutiny and debate as every other aspect of religion.
On the face of it, there was no immediate need for ideas about spiritual creatures to undergo any great transformation in the wake of the Reformation. By and large, until the mid-seventeenth century the prevailing assumptions about the metaphysics of invisible spiritual beings remained the same as they had been for several centuries.
However, in important ways the Reformation inflicted what one might term collateral damage on beliefs about the spirit realm. A fuller idea of Gods providential control over every aspect of existence reduced the need for, or explanatory usefulness of, quasi-autonomous spiritual intelligences. A more economical attitude See note 39 below for the rhetoric of Alphonsus de Spina to this effect. Superstition Past and Present, ed. Reformed theologians argued that some of the alleged manifestations of the supernatural in the everyday world, on which Catholic claims to authenticate for instance the cult of saints or suffrages for the dead had depended, simply did not occur in the present age and could not be expected.
The narrowing and refining character of such discernment grew sharper, as ghosts now were reinterpreted as demons. Miracles had ceased, and Catholic claims to perform them routinely amounted only to another instance of demonic seduction. On the one hand, rational metaphysics was not new: medieval philosophers had been arguing for just such a reduction and simplification of causality for centuries.
Matter acted upon matter, and intelligible symbols communicated with intellective entities. See below, notes Not all of these sceptical ideas derived from the Reformation; or if they did, it was largely by extrapolation from the ideas of its more radical fringe. Scepticism about the nature and properties of spirits derived more from the metaphysical free-for-all into which western European philosophy descended in the seventeenth century, as the precarious dominance of post-Aristotelian Thomism crumbled.
In place of the traditional metaphysics there emerged a rich diversity of possible approaches. Neoplatonism offered new possibilities for relating spiritual beings to the material world. Some bold materialists argued that all that existed had material substance, and that incorporeal being was an oxymoron. Paradoxically perhaps, the rise of empiricism would provoke more energetic pursuit of tales of the exotic or extraordinary than any movement of thought before it. Many of the empiricists of the seventeenth century were not disinterested investigators. They sought far and wide for evidence which might definitively prove the existence of the spirit world, denouncing the scepticism and alleged atheism of their opponents.
This chapter will trace the outlines of these developments. By exploring some of the serious and often learned interventions over the natures of spirits, it will try to suggest some kind of trajectory for the unfolding of beliefs on the subject over some five centuries. The purpose here is not to re-form some narrative of progressive modernization. On the contrary, there is evidence that beliefs about spiritual beings in the west have remained chaotic and multifarious since the end of the seventeenth century. However, something imSee Cameron, Enchanted Europe, See e.
Macpherson Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin, , discussed below at note Something caused the shift from the characteristic late medieval struggle to establish religious restraint over peoples beliefs about the spirit world, into the epistemological disorder and laissez-faire which has been evident for the last three centuries. This sketch will attempt to suggest how that transition came about. Glimpses through the Veil The first major challenge of this subject consists in trying to work out what kinds of spiritual creatures were believed to exist in premodern Europe.
Any portrait which can be drawn is to some extent a construct of the literary imagination. One snatches at those elements in the sources which appear to depend least heavily on the scholastic analysis. Some hints about majority beliefs in spirits may be located in the lore which scholastic pastoral theologians criticised in others, or claimed to have discovered while on visitations.
They appear in imaginative literature, especially lyric poetry. They also occur in sermons, where preachers made a didactic or moralising point about encounters with spirit-creatures. Occasionally educated writers reminisced about them from their childhood memories. Ideally such an account should be highly specific geographically, culturally, and linguistically: each culture had its own name, often euphemistic, for its invisible spirits. In practice there is not nearly enough space available here.
Moreover, the evidence from a sufficiently early period is too elusive to reveal more than the broadest synthetic outline. For the time being, those spiritual creatures endorsed by theological orthodoxyangels and demonswill be set See e. George Mora and Benjamin Kohl, trans. John Shea ; repr. Binghamton, N. Paracelsi Bombast ab Hohenheim [. Geneva, , There is every reason to suppose that the good and evil spirits of received religion formed a consistent part of widely shared beliefs.
Where the beliefs of the theologically literate and the majority differed was that the theologians only believed in the existence of angels and demons. The greater part of Europes population appear to have extended their notions of spiritual creatures more broadly.
First, there is abundant evidence that pre-modern people believed in the existence of a great variety of non-human creatures, usually invisible but sometimes seen. Typically these creatures were either associated with a particular environment woods, waters, mines, and the like where they might encounter human beings who intruded into their realm.
These ranged from the seductive charms of the inhabitants of the Venusberg, later made famous in Wagners Tannhaser, to the violent nocturnal sexual assaults of incubi and succubi. Since the age of Romanticism, of course, this cohort of spirit beings has gained an even stronger position in imaginative literature than it already had in the Renaissance. Because fairies of all sorts have become staple fodder for reconstructed folk-tales and sentimental art, that need not discourage the historian from taking the earlier, more fugitive beliefs in such creatures seriously.
Another category of spirit creatures appeared to be entirely malevolent and threatening. It is an interesting question whether many of the creatures designated by the words rendered as witch in English were in fact traditionally regarded as human. St Gallen, , ; also Martin Luthers reference to domestic demons [called] Vichtelen, others Helekeppelin, in Martin Luther, Decem praecepta Wittenbergensi predicata populo Wittenberg, , sigs.
The creatures which the benandanti of Friuli battled in their night-flight experiences were almost certainly spiritual. Two final categories of spirits need to be remembered. Evil spirits could enter into people and cause the mental affliction known as possession. In theology, possession was supposed to be documented by a series of increasingly stringent criteria: a clear conceptual difference existed between distress or frenzy and demonic possession. Powicke and C. Cheney, 2 vols. Bullard and H. However, one can reasonably doubt whether these stringent criteria would always be applied by the less educated.
Finally, there were apparitions of the spirits of the dead. A spirit or ghost the two terms are of course cognate was simply the conscious, intellective part of a human being separated from its bodily vessel. Few pre-modern people would have had any difficulty with the concept of a person existing outside the confines of the body. The question was rather under what circumstances and by what rules the spirits of the dead might become present, and indeed visible, to the living.
First of all, these spirits were ethically ambivalent. They might help or hinder people; they could cause harm but were not uniformly or consistently wicked. In short, they shared the same potentiality for good and evil as their human counterparts. Unlike humans, spirits were generally supposed to be immortal; however, they were not consistently visible or invisible in the realm of story and exempla, sometimes appearing as both.
That intermittent visibility conferred on them a transient, temporary character at odds with their supposed immunity from death. For early modern possession, see D. See [Paracelus], De nymphis, sylvis, ff. Henry E. Sigerist, trans. They felt insults; they were sensitive to betrayal by their human associates; they were capable of taking the most exquisite, and often delayed or occult, forms of revenge.
Hudeckin, a spirit described in a twelfth-century tale related by Trithemius of Sponheim , worked quite amicably in the kitchens of the bishop of Hildesheim until first a kitchen-boy and then one of the cooks insulted him: he then took a gruesome revenge on them both, but not without threatening the humans in advance to warn them to treat him better.
This story was alluded to in a work of Paracelsus, as something which would have been recognized by readers.
The gist of the story, though told in a range of variants, was that a nobleman married a beautiful mysterious wife, who accepted him on the condition that he did not attempt to see her when she bathed secretly at certain intervals. When of course he contrived to see her on one of these occasions, he saw that she had the lower quarters of a serpent or a fish: she then disappeared with a terrible curse [Figure 1. But when day commeth there is nothyng found cleane. Tyndall, Iohn Frith, and Doct.
Barnes n. Darzu ein aufhrlicher Bericht und Vorred Magdeburg, ; another edition was also published in Strasbourg in Berlin: G. Grotesche Verlagsbuchhandlung, , Figure 1. LHistoire de Melusine Lyon, ca. Reproduced with permission from Dr. Jrn Gnther Rare Books, Switzerland.
It was rapidly printed in the early decades of the press and many times subsequently. One of the most interesting was the implication that human beings must keep their promises even when made to spirit-creatures; since non-human creatures could not win redress for broken faith in human society, they were in some sense justified in taking supernatural revenge.
Striving for Coherence: The Scholastic Analysis of Spirits Given the proliferation of literary versions of and references to the romantic and often moralising tales of human-spirit interactions in the early age of printing, it is hard to imagine that this genre of literature had been labouring under theological censure. Yet, in a sense, that was what had been happening right through the Middle Ages.
Especially since the rise of Christian Aristotelianism in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, theologians had argued that strict limits were set, not only by theology but also by philosophy and reason, on the nature, properties, potentialities, and behaviour of spiritual creatures. In the later Middle Ages, a significant body of applied scholastic pastoral theology, expressed in catechisms, sermons, and other kinds of manuals, sought to regulate exactly what was or was not possible in the invisible realm.
Scholastic demonology did not, any more than its successors, represent the triumph of tradition over reason. In fact, it sifted and strained its material, of-. The surviving copy of the latter is a four-leaf fragment. On Luthers reference to the legend, see Steinkmper, Melusine, ff. Spiritual beings acquired a distinct metaphysical category as separated intelligences.
That is to say, they represented the intellective and volitional embodiment of consciousness. Since as Aquinas argued in the Summa contra gentiles we knew that intelligences could exist independently of bodies in the form of human souls it followed that separated intelligences could exist without ever having been linked to bodies as their form.
Some unexpected consequences followed from the incorporeality of spirits. Without bodies, they could not possess physical senses or animal passions. Wholly spiritual beings could not be subject to the attractions of the flesh, so could not commit sins which came from corporeal appetites neither, one might add, could they be virtuous through abstinence from such appetites.
Without organs of sense, they could not learn by the assimilation of sense-impressions and the building up of an image, but by pure intellection. Finally, each was a separate species, since without bodies they could not consist of matter and form, differentiated by their divergence from the form as material creatures were.
Theologians and metaphysicians, by establishing a clear place for spiritual beings in the created order, imposed restrictions on their actual power, though not on their power to generate illusions. In reality, all angels, whether loyal or fallen, good or bad, were rigorously limited in their capacities by their status as creatures of God and thus part of the natural order.
They existed within time, and could not know those things which belonged to the eternal wisdom of God. They could not know the future unless God chose to reveal it to them; at most they might conjecture future events from visible signs.
They could not know the secrets of the human heart, except in the normal way of gauging someones state of mind by outward 31 Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles Compare also Thomass Quaestio disputata de spiritualibus creaturis art. They could not truly transform one material thing into another, except by the mixture of existing elements.
Spiritual creatures could not perform genuine miracles, except as agents of specific divine commands. Fallen angels could at most perform marvels: these operated entirely within the natural order, but relied on speed and great knowledge to bewilder those who witnessed them. However, spirits were all enormously long-lived, intelligent, fast-moving, and experienced. By their knowledge of the world the fallen angels could represent themselves as knowing far more than they actually did. By rearranging subtle matter before the organs of human senses, or by interfering with the physical processes of cognition in the brain, they could generate illusions.
Theologians following John of Damascus argued that from the moment in cosmic history, splendidly unclear in Scripture, when some of the angels rebelled against God, their ethical destinies were sealed forever. Their choice to fall or not to fall was as irreversible as the fact of death for a human being. The evil angels were forever deprived of the ability to wish for anything other than evil and were irretrievably damned.
In antiquity, Origen had speculated that ultimately, eventually, God would draw all rational creatures to the divine essence and that all could be re-. Gabriel Biel d. See Martin Plantsch, Opusculum de sagis maleficis Pforzheim, , sigs. Compare Thomas Aquinas, Scriptum super sententiis, on the same passage as above. No room remained for ethical ambivalence or complexity. Especially, nothing good could possibly be expected from fallen angels.
Scholastic metaphysics thus found itself on a collision course with traditional beliefs about spirits and the work which they could do. Whereas traditional narratives had envisaged people bargaining with spirits for real benefits, theology now insisted that any benefits supposedly obtained from demonic beings must be unreliable, illusory, or treacherous, designed only to lure souls further into illicit practices to their own destruction. By a complex train of argument which I have analysed elsewhere theologians reasoned that all superstitious rituals designed to achieve some physical benefit even when that benefit appeared universally benignmust rest on a tacit appeal to those evil spirits who were, by the principles described above, dedicated to the destruction of human souls.
Thus the theologians of the Middle Ages discerned that the whole array of putatively beneficent or at least harmless spiritual beings, including fairies, domestic house-spirits, and alluring nymphs, were in fact destructive demons. Their apparent passions of love and jealousy could only be illusions, part of the broader conspiracy to See Matthew Levering, Predestination: Biblical and Theological Paths Oxford: Oxford UP, , Alphonsus de Spina, Fortalitium Fidei Lyon, , bk.
Spina there enumerates a variety of folk-spirits and concludes that all are really demons. In this binary, quasi-Manichaean world the task of discerning spirits became intellectually simpler but pastorally more demanding. Could a pastor really persuade his people that all commerce with spirit-creatures was in truth supping with the devil? Certainly there was no shortage of stories, such as the tale of St Germanus of Auxerre and the villagers leaving food out for Habundia and her followers, to support the allegation.
It was certainly available to the people, set out in sermon-cycles and catechetical treatises. The Reformation and the World of Spirits The ideas of the Reformation impacted the world of spirits indirectly rather than by direct confrontation. The evil which most preoccupied the reformers was religion gone wrong, what they saw to be a deeply misconceived way of leading the Christian life and of organising Christian society.
Beliefs about spirits sat somewhere off at the periphery of the first reformers fields of vision. Moreover, many Reformed theologians, insofar as they were philosophers, held similar opinions about the nature of the world and of being to their The tale of St Germanus is cited and re-cited, e. Frankfurt, , , Catholic adversaries. Despite denunciations of the blind, heathen teacher Aristotle43 or of the monstrous theology which has Aristotle as its head and Christ as its feet 44 or his calling Aristotle the destroyer of godly doctrine, 45 even Luther had time for traditional philosophy, so long as it was not asked to explain how human beings might be enabled to act in a righteous or godly way.
Aristotle was all right in his proper place. Philipp Melanchthon devoted a large part of his prolific academic output to dressing Aristotle up in a new garb more suited to the schools of Lutheran universities. However, other aspects of their thought were destined to have an impact in this area. First, the mainstream reformers argued for a new relationship between human ritual and divine action. In the world of the Reformation, divine power was never delegated; God always acted directly and without intermediaries, so ritual did not embody or contain divine power.
Nevertheless God was faithful, and for that reason sacraments were trustworthy. Secondly, most reformers were providentialists. They tended to argue that even the most infinitesimal details of human experience were overseen by a caring but often inscrutable God. There was less room, therefore, to ascribe independent agency to invisible spirits except as the tools and messengers of the Almighty. While the reformers might still use the language of divine permission given to evil spirits, by this language they meant that, in the final analysis, every last thing that angels did, good or bad, was ordained by God to some ultimately righteous purpose.
WA, ; trans. Pelikan, H. Oswald, and H. Lehmann, 55 vols. Angels in the Reformation The first generation of reformers believed in angels, good and bad. However, they simplified and in some respects modified medieval traditions on this topic. In this area as elsewhere, they purged away many non- or post-Scriptural encrustations of medieval culture. Relatively few reformers actually took the time and trouble to construct a systematic angelology.
Luther, typically, scattered remarks on the subject prolifically throughout his oeuvre, but did not form a consistent or coherent picture.
Without the space to review each of these and other treatments in turn, a few general observations will be made here. The work is here cited in the edition in Hieronymus Zanchius, Opera theologica, 8 vols. Geneva, The discussion of angels and demons occupies vol. On Zanchi, see Christopher J. Reproduced with permission from Balliol College, Oxford. First, the reformers argued that angels existed as real substances, and not merely as metaphors for the dispositions of the will of God or of the human mind. Calvin, Bullinger, and Zanchi were all aware of the argument that angels might be read simply as metaphors for psychological states or for the abstract influence of God; all rejected the suggestion as unscriptural.
As Bullinger put it, some people imagine that angels are nothing else than qualities, motions, or inspirations of good mynds. But the canonical scripture calleth them ministers. Consequently, the reformers by and large dispensed with and disapproved of the intricate theories found in Pseudo-Dionysiuss On the Celestial Hierarchy about the names and organization of the nine orders of angels. So, they agreed that the angels were substantial beings, and that some of them had fallen and become evil while others remained loyal.
Bullinger added, that which is not deliuered in the scriptures, can not without daunger be inquired Bullinger, Fiftie Godlie and Learned Sermons, ; cf. Calvin, Institutes I. Migne, ed. Fuit igitur aliquis alius Dionysius, recentior et obscurior. Here the leading Protestant theologians began to show a little disarray. The traditional scholastic view held angels to be entirely incorporeal, and Calvin agreed that it is certain that spirits have no bodily shape.
He suggested that it was preferable to think that angels had rarefied bodies, as the Fathers had surmised, at least by comparison with the nature of God. However, it was permissible to think the opposite, and only God truly knew their substance, as John of Damascus had said. The reformers showed more interest in this question than might have been expected. In the mids Luther wrote with some enthusiasm about angels intervening to protect the faithful and to guide them away from danger, though whether he envisaged an individu-.
Peter Lombard, Book of Sentences, bk. Zurich, , fols. The text cited is attributed to Augustine in Bonaventures Commentarii in quatuor libros sententiarum bk. Ultimately, Gods providential care over every individual was absolute: the use of angels as intermediaries served only to assure us of the infinite nature of Gods resources and the scope of divine love. He found it useful and Scriptural to reflect on the role of angels as guardians; it was probable and consonant with Scripture that each elect person was assigned a tutelary spirit, though others might be added for extra help when needed.
In any case, the angels could never disagree over humans in their care nor abandon their protection. They saw that ministry in traditional terms: good angels were to look after and care for human beings, while acting as the instruments of divine grace. As for the evil angels, Calvin, in keeping with his providentialism, argued that while acting out the scope of their malice from their own ill-will, the demons would inescapably fulfil the ultimately good purposes of God. Since Scripture required it, it was agreed that angels who were in their own natures invisible could Soergel, Luther on the Angels, Kaspar Peucer, Commentarius, de praecipuis divinationum generibus Frankfurt, and , ch.
Kaspar Peucer, Commentarius, de praecipuis generibus divinationum Wittenberg, , fols. Baum, E. Cunitz, and E. Reuss, Corpus reformatorum, vols.