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Turretin - Institutes of Elenctic Theology

SEVENTH TOPIC ANGELS

Question I.

Whether and when angels were created.

Question II.

Are angels spiritual and incorporeal substances? We affirm.

ANGELIC KNOWLEDGE Question III.

What is the mode and what is the object of angelic knowledge?

Question IV.

What is the will and the free will of angels? Do affections belong to them?

Question V.

What is the power of the angels?

THE APPARITIONS OF ANGELS Question VI.

What were the apparitions of angels, and what bodies did they assume?

THE ORDERS OF ANGELS Question VII.

Is there any order among the angels and are there distinct hierarchies among them? The former we affirm; the latter we deny against the Jews and Romanists.

THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS Question VIII.

Why and for what does God use the ministry of angels? Is a particular angel assigned as a perpetual guardian to each believer? We deny.

THE INTERCESSION AND WORSHIP OF ANGELS

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Turretin - Institutes of Elenctic Theology

Question IX.

Are angels our intercessors with God, and is any religious worship due to them? We deny against the Romanists. **********

FIRST QUESTION - Whether and when angels were created. I. Among the creatures (about which the providence of God is occupied) angels excel; their dignity is so much the greater as they approach nearer the divine nature and are free from all contact with matter. II. Their names are various in Scripture;: A. some are essential drawn from their nature (spirit) B. others are nonessential from the power, virtue and dignity with which they are endowed (Seraphim, Cherubim, thrones, dominions, power) C. others relative and referring to the office or duty demanded of them (angel, sent, ambassador, ministering spirit) III. The existence of angels is proved by many arguments A. the grade of beings and the complement of the universe 1. God has made in it creatures merely corporeal (rocks) 2. he has made others partly corporeal and partly spiritual (man) 3. so it was fitting to the perfection of the world that he should create the merely spiritual (angels) B. the various proofs drawn from wonderful effects surpassing human strength (apparition of specters among Gentiles, which could not be of God) C. the voice of Scripture IV. Since in truth mention is so often made of them in the books of Moses and the entire Scripture, it can seem a wonder how the Sadducees could fall in the error of denying the existence of angels. V. That angels are not coeternal with God, but created by him, not only reason proves, but http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (2 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


Turretin - Institutes of Elenctic Theology

Scripture expressly asserts. A. in general, when it affirms that heaven and earth (and all that was in them) was created by God B. in particular, when it says, "the heavens were finished, and all the host of them" (Gen. 2:1); and angels are called the "host of heaven" (Psa. 103:20-21; 148:2; Luke 2:13) C. David and the apostle after him say that "God made his angels spirits" (Psalm 104:4; Heb. 1:7) VI. Paul clearly states this in Colossians 1:16. VII. Angels were not created before the Mosaic beginning, as the Socinians hold, rather they were created in the very beginning of the world with all other creatures. VIII. The reasons are: A. because the Mosaic beginning is the beginning both of time and of every creature before which nothing can be conceived by the abyss of eternity, therefore the angels could not have existed before that beginning without existing from eternity B. whatever was before the world is God because this prerogative is claimed for him in Scripture (Psa. 90:2; Prov. 8:22; John 1:1) C. Moses says expressly says in Genesis 1:1 that God created heaven and earth and all things which are contained in them (cf. Exo. 20:11) IX. Although Moses does not mention expressly the creation of angels, it does not follow on that account that he is altogether silent concerning them. His silence arose from his design to weave a history of the church and to trace its origin from the beginning of the world. X. The passage in which the morning stars and the sons of God are said to have sung together for joy when he founded the earth (Job 38:6-7) proves that they were created in the beginning and immediately broke forth into praise of their Creator. Since it is evident from this that they were a part of the universe, no reason can be inferred that they were created before the Mosaic beginning. http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (3 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


Turretin - Institutes of Elenctic Theology

********** SECOND QUESTION - Are angels spiritual and incorporeal substances? We affirm. I. Theologians hold two opinions about this question. A. those that deny that angels are mere spirits, free from all matter - many of the fathers held this opinion B. others affirm that angels are mere spirits - this opinion is held by Romanists and our divines II. Reasons are: A. Scripture expressly calls them spirits and spirit is diametrically opposed to body (Luke 24:39) and they are classed among things "invisible" (Col. 1:16) B. spiritual faculties and operations are attributed to them which cannot proceed from a corporeal nature and which, therefore, necessarily demand a spiritual and immaterial cause C. if they were corporeal they would have quantity and so would be impenetrable, and more than one could not be at the same time in the same place (cf. Luke 8:30) D. if they already had bodies, they could not and ought not to assume other bodies IV. Although they are called spiritual, still they are not to be considered as rejoicing in an absolute and higher simplicity (which belongs to God alone from whom they are infinitely distant). V. Body either is opposed to shadow or apparition and phantasm; or denotes a thing truly existing; or properly denotes what is material and composed of quantitative parts. VI. The apparitions of angels in which they exhibited themselves to men do not prove them to be corporeal because they appeared not in bodies of their own, but in assumed bodies. VII. Although angels are said to be in a certain "place," it does not follow on that account that they are corporeal. It cannot be denied that a thing can be in a place, although not http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (4 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


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coextensive with that space in which it is. VIII. The corporeity of angels it no better collected from their motion. For although local motion properly belongs to bodies, yet there may be granted without repugnancy, if not a change of place, at least of the definitive locality, when one locality having been left, they settle in another. IX. Although "eternal fire" is said to be prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41), it does not follow that angels are corporeal because it is not necessary that a material and corporeal fire should be understood. Rather a spiritual and figurative fire describes the torments of hell. ********** THIRD QUESTION - What is the mode and what is the object of angelic knowledge? I. The question is not whether angels are endowed with the gift of understanding, rather the question is how and what do they understand; or what is the mode and what is the object of their knowledge. II. Angelic knowledge in general can be distinguished into four kinds: A. natural - what was given to the angels from the beginning of creation, common both to the good and the bad ones B. revealed - by which they know many things from the revelation of God, of which they were before ignorant C. experimental and acquired - arising from the things which are done in the world and especially in the church D. supernatural - belonging only to good angels by which they behold God III. The object of angelic knowledge is negatively: A. not all things 1. because Christ testifies that "they do not know the day of judgment" (Mark 13:32) 2. because they learn many things every day from revelation which they did

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not know before (Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:12) 3. because omniscience belongs to God alone B. not future contingent things depending on the free of God and which can be known by the creature certainly only from his revelation C. they do not know the heart because God reserves this for himself (Jer. 17:9; 2 Chron. 6:30) VI. Affirmatively: A. they know God and divine things (Matt. 18:10) B. themselves and men C. other creatures of God VII. It is more difficult to understand the mode of angelic knowledge, concerning which bold and anxious questions are raised by the Scholastics. A. that the angelic knowledge is only intellectual, not sensitive B. that angels do not understand by their own essence C. it is not intuitive and cognizable they the intellect, but discursive and ratiocinative IX. That there is mutual communication among the angels, Scripture testifies when it speaks of angelic colloquies (Zech. 2:3) and introduces them shouting to each other (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 7:2; 14:18). ********** FOURTH QUESTION - What is the will and the free will of angels? Do affections belong to them? I. The will follows the intellection of angels which is most free and far more perfect than man's will (which is often disturbed by passions and bodily motions). II. Their will is neither independent (because always in subjection to God) nor operative (as if the operated by their own will). III. Their free will, although from the beginning undetermined to good and to evil, afterwards in the good (determined by the confirmation of God) is only to good; in the http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (6 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


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bad, however (by their own sin) to evil only, according to the just desertion of God. IV. As angels have no sensitive knowledge, so neither do sensitive appetites, nor affections, nor passion properly belong to them. ********** FIFTH QUESTION - What is the power of the angels? I. The greatness of angelic power, not only Scripture testifies (Psa. 103:20; Eph. 6:12; 2 Thess. 1:7), but also the wonderful effects produced by them sufficiently prove. II. Whatever that power may be, still it is finite and circumscribed by certain limits, so that although they can do many things, still they cannot do all things, rather those things only which do not surpass the order and strength of a created nature. III. Their power A. as to bodies, there is not doubt that they have great power over every elementary body to move them locally and affect them in different ways (it is certain that they can act upon the external and internal senses to excite or bind them) B. as to the rational soul, the can do nothing immediately to it because to God alone pertains also the bending and moving it whithersoever he wills IV. If the Devil is said to "work in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2), this is not to be understood as if he operated immediately upon the rational soul itself, but because in diverse ways he acts upon the external and internal senses by evil suggestions and temptations. V. There are two modes of production of substances (by creation and generation) and neither belongs to angels. Not the former because infinite power is required for it; not the latter because since they are incorporeal, the are not capable of generation. VI. The raising of the dead is a work surpassing angelic power and peculiar to God alone.

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********** SIXTH QUESTION - What were the apparitions of angels, and what bodies did they assume? I. The question is not whether angels have appeared to men; but what were these apparitions, and what bodies did they assume when they appeared. II. We read of a threefold angelic appearance. A. some occur in a dream (Gen. 28:12; Matt. 1:20; Acts 27:23-24) - no body needs to be assumed B. some occur in an ecstatic vision - body needs to be assumed C. some occur in sensible vision - body needs to be assumed III. The bodies in which they appeared were neither empty specters nor proper bodies hypostatically united to them, but economical and borrowed in order to perform the ministry demanded of them. IV. However, what they were and whence assumed it is curious to inquire and rash to define (Scripture being silent). V. It cannot be denied that angels often assumed true bodies. VI. They were, however, so united to these bodies that they could not on this account be called truly men because the union was not personal and internal (such as that of the soul and body), but external and accidental that they might manifest themselves by putting on and laying aside those bodies as garments. A. if they are called "men", this is as to opinion and on account of the external form in which they appeared, not from the reality of the thing B. they did not assume them with the intention of pretending to be men or professing themselves to be such, but only that they might hold familiar intercourse with men and so perform the work assigned to them VII. The operation performed by the angels in those bodies (such as talking, walking, eating) cannot properly and strictly be called vital.

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VIII. What became of the bodies assumed, after the work for which they were sent had been performed, is a superfluous question. Scripture only tells us they disappeared from the time the angels departed. IX. Now, since the clear light of the gospel has arisen, the Son of God addresses us, and since the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church and since the canon of Scripture was closed and sealed - God use of angels to address men is not needed any more. Although he always uses their invisible ministry, whether in the church or in the world, yet he no more (or most rarely) makes them conspicuous to men. ********** SEVENTH QUESTION - Is there any order among the angels and are there distinct hierarchies among them? The former we affirm; the latter we deny against the Jews and Romanists. I. The question concerning the order of angels can be understood in two ways: A. either concerning order simply (which exists among equals by nature) B. or concerning an order of excellence or power or jurisdiction II. As to concerning order simply A. we do not deny that there is an order among the good angels (thrones, dominions, powers, archangels, etc.) B. as to evil angels, the is also undoubted because there is a mention of the prince of demons in Scripture C. but what and of what kind these orders are Scripture does not say 1. this is not the opinion of the Romanists (especially the Scholastics) a. in order to extend the figment of an ecclesiastical hierarchy, they feign a hierarchy of angels in heaven b. they create three hierarchies c. Dionysius the Aeropagite, John of Damascus, Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas 2. the Jews trifled before the Romanists a. they created ten hierarchies b. but these are the inventions of man http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (9 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


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V. Many arguments prove that the name "Areopagite" is falsely given to this Dionysius. VI. Reference to the Areopagite is absent from so many different Greek and Latin writers. VII. But the vanity of that heavenly hierarchy (proposed by the Pseudo-Dionysius) is to be more clearly exposed. A. Paul preserves a deep silence concerning it, from whom Dionysius boasts of having received it B. if from the different appellations, various hierarchies are to be instituted, three would not be enough C. the apostle disarranges all these orders when he call all "ministering spirits" (Heb. 1:14) D. no properties, which are not common to all the angels, are drawn from the meaning of these words E. in the first hierarchy are placed those who always stand near God and are sent nowhere into the world; yet in Scripture we read of the seraphim and cherubim being sent and acting upon the earth (Isa. 6:6; Gen. 3:24) F. these things savor of Platonism and not of Paulinism VIII. The various appellations given to the angels by Paul (Col. 1:16) do not prove different classes of them because there we do not find the number which they speak of, no mention being made by him here of cherubim and seraphim, nor of archangels and angels (N.B. Paul leaves our "thrones" in Eph. 1:21). IX. In Revelation 12:7 mention is made of Michael and his angels who fought the dragon, yet nothing can be collected from this to favor the heavenly hierarchy. A. Michael can well be understood as Christ himself, the Lord of angels 1. the antithesis from the passage of Paul (Rom. 16:20) demands this, and the first gospel oracle (Gen. 3:15) confirms it 2. under this name he seems also to be designated in Daniel 12:1 3. in the same sense, mention is made of "Michael the archangel, who contended with the devil about the body of Moses" (Judg. 9) - this is evidently said of Christ, since what is here ascribed to Michael is http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (10 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


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attributed to Jehovah in Zechariah 3:2 B. if a created angel is meant, the name denoted a temporary order and an office committed to him for a time, to carry out the judgments of God - from this cannot be inferred an order of perpetual power and jurisdiction X. The archangel (mentioned in 1 Thess. 4:16) is not the prince of all angels, but as it were a forerunner of the majesty of Christ among the angels and promulgator of his will. XI. Although among fallen angels there is one eminent above the rest, who is called "the Devil," "Satan," "the dragon," "Beelzebub," the "God of this world," the "prince of the world," it does not follow that among the good also, one angel presides over the others. This position is more rightly called the privilege of Christ (Col. 1:18). ********** EIGHTH QUESTION - Why and for what does God use the ministry of angels? Is a particular angel assigned as a perpetual guardian to each believer? We deny. I. No one can doubt that God uses the ministry of angels, since they are called "ministering spirits" (Heb. 1:14), "ministers of God" (Psa. 104:4), but it can enquired why he willed to use their help. II. A multiple reason can be given: not from necessity and indigence, as if he stood in need of them, but from indulgence and love. A. for the good of the angels themselves whom God has though worthy of this honor to be his co-workers in the government of the world B. for the consolation of believers who thence know how much of a care they are to God C. for the promotion of greater friendship among angels and men D. for the good order of the universes that thus all creatures answering in turn to each other and woven together by certain bonds of offices might establish more firmly the harmony of the world E. especially for the glory of God himself who is the ultimate and principal end of all his works

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III. Now a multiple office is assigned to them in Scripture: A. with respect to God 1. they are perpetually occupied in celebrating and adoring him (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8; 7:11-12; Luke 2:13-14; Psa. 97:7; 103:20; 148:2) 2. in holy obedience (Psa. 103:20; Dan. 7:10; 1 Ki. 22:19; Isa. 6:2; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:11-12) B. with respect to themselves 1. for as they are a well-ordered heavenly society, they undoubtedly perform various mutual duties to each other (Isa. 6:3; Zechariah; Revelation) 2. from Daniel 10:13 a conflict and disagreement between good angels cannot be gathered C. with respect to the world 1. their defending and conserving created things and their order (Psa. 104:4; Rev. 14:18; 16:5) 2. God frequently uses them for the protection of kingdoms and empires (Dan. 10 and 11) D. with respect to men (the good as well as the bad) 1. as to the wicked in inflicting the judgments of God (Gen. 19:11; Exod. 12:29; 2 Ki. 19:35; Isa. 37:36; Dan. 4:13-14, 23, 31; Acts 12:23; Matt. 13:4142) 2. as to the elect and believers - whether in chastising them (2 Sam. 24:16) or in dispensing the blessings of God to promote salvation (Heb. 1:14), they benefit the pious in three ways: a. by teaching (Gen. 16; 18; 19; 28; 32; Dan. 6; 9; 10; 11; Zech. 1; 2; Ezek. 1; Luke 1:11; 2:10; Matt. 28:2-7; Acts 1:10-11) b. by consoling (Gen. 16:7-12; 32:1; Dan. 10:10-21; 1 Ki. 19:5-7; Luke 1:26-38; Matt. 28:7-8) c. by guarding them (Psa. 34:7; 91:11; Gen. 19:15-17; 32:1-2; Dan. 3:25, 28; 6:22; 10:13; Matt. 18:10; 2 Ki. 6:17; 2 Ki. 19:35 Acts 5:19; 12:7; Luke 16:22) IX. Here belongs the question concerning guardian angels - whether to individual believers

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a certain particular angel is assigned by God from the very birth to be their perpetual companion and guardian until death. A. this opinion is held by the Romanists and on it they rest the religious worship of angels and the daily veneration of the companion angel by name B. however we, although acknowledging angels to be given to believers for a guard and defense, nor doubting that certain angels can now and then be appointed and sent to believers, still we deny that it can rightly be gathered from this that a guardian angel is assigned to each believer X. The reasons are: A. Scripture nowhere mentions a guardian angel; indeed, while the Spirit testifies that they are sent by God freely in all directions to minister unto them who shall be heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14), he sufficiently intimates that they are not bound and responsible to particular individuals B. one angel is often sent to guard many believers (Isa. 37:36; Psa. 34:7) and many are appointed over one (Psa. 91:11; 2 Ki. 6:17; Gen. 32:1-2) C. this opinion has a pagan origin; for it is known that the Gentiles thought there was given to each man a peculiar genius or demon XIII. The two passages of Scripture usually adduced for its confirmation cannot prove it. A. in Matthew 18:10, they are called "the angels of the little ones" 1. this shows that angels are given as a guard to children no less than to adults; but it cannot be gathered to individual infants for a perpetual guard 2. it is not said definitely that an angel of each of these little ones beholds the face of God, but indefinitely only, whether many are assigned to one or one to many B. no better proof is derived from Acts 12:15, where mention is made of Peter's angel 1. it is not the voice of Scripture, but of some who speak as Jews; converted indeed, but not yet sufficiently instructed in the Christian doctrine 2. if the words be referred to an angel, it can be collected from it that a certain angel was then present with Peter, but not that a particular and perpetual guardian was given to him; for he is said "to have come upon http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (13 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


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him" (v. 7) 3. the thing in controversy is taken for granted - that it treats of an angel properly so called - nothing prevents us from taking the word angelou here for "messenger", for "it is a messenger sent by him" to announce something concerning him XV. What is said in 1 Corinthians 11:10 shows indeed that the angels are present in sacred assemblies and are witnesses of the piety or impiety, but nothing can be carved out of this in favor of a guardian angel, as if a particular angel was assigned to individuals ********** NINTH QUESTION - Are angels our intercessors with God, and is any religious worship due to them? We deny against the Romanists. I. Based on the previous a twofold question arises: whether the office of angels is extended as to embrace intercession for us with God and whether any religious worship is due them. II. As to intercession, by which they pray for us and carry our prayers up to God A. he alone can intercede for us who died for us, for intercession assumes propitiation B. to present the prayers of others to God is a part of the mediatorial and priestly office, which Scripture claims for the Son of God alone (1 Tim. 2:5) C. he alone can carry up our prayers to God who can wash off their corruption and expiate their impurity and imperfection and sanctify them (which belongs to no created angel) D. the angels ought either to offer all or only some 1. if all, then they ought to offer those also which are only mental (which they could not do because they are not "searchers of the heart") 2. if only some, they ought therefore to be determined by them and not to be offered indefinitely (but no reason can be given why some should be carried up rather than others) E. the opinion concerning the intercession of angels is drawn from the heathen, http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (14 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


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among whom demons were constituted mediators (Plato, Symposium 202E) VIII. Although we need the guardian care of angels in all our ways, they ought not on that account to present our prayers to God because this does not make any part of angelic guardianship. IX. The angel who prays for the people (Zech. 1:12) is not a created, but and uncreated angel (the Son of God who interposes his own intercession both here and elsewhere with the Father on behalf of the church). He has connected with him various angels as ministers who are bound to report to him (Zech. 1:11). X. Job 33:23 does not favor the intercession of angels because it does not treat of an angel according to nature, but only according to office. XI. The angel of Revelation 8:3 cannot be a created angel, but the uncreated (viz. Christ who performs this office). A. this angel is distinguished form the seven other angels and he is said to be "another", not so much in number as in species B. this angel is set before us as a priest who offers incense; this office is elsewhere claimed for Christ alone (Heb. 9:24; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1) C. it treats of prayers of "all saints," which cannot be offered by a created angel D. he is said to have received a censer and to have filled it with the fire of the altar and to have cast it into the earth (Rev. 8:5); which belong to Christ alone (Luke 12:49) E. therefore, Christ, the great angel of the covenant, is introduced here as the high priest of the New Testament; with his incense, he offers our prayers to God and renders them acceptable to him XII. The passage in Tobit 12:15, where the personated angel treated of ascribes to himself an office proper to the Son of God alone since drawn from an apocryphal book is deservedly rejected. XIII. As to objects of religious worship, notice that the question is not whether any honor or veneration is due to them, but whether worship is due them. This we deny.

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XIV. The reasons are: A. "the worship" of angels is expressly condemned by Paul (Col. 2:18) 1. Paul is referring to worship paid to angels 2. Paul condemns all worship of angels absolutely B. an angel repudiated such worship (Rev. 19:10) C. Scripture claims religious worship for God alone (Matt. 4:10; Deut. 6:13; 10:20) D. no one can be an object of religious worship and invocation who is not omniscient and omnipotent, therefore to no purpose is worship and invocation directed to one who is not such E. if the worship of angels were lawful, some command or promise or approved example of it would be given in Scripture F. this worship is frequently condemned by the fathers in the ancient church 1. Tertullian (Prescription Against Heretics 33) 2. Augustine (De Haeresibus 39 and Of True Religion 55) 3. The Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364) XXI. Angels can be reverenced due to their office and service to God, but cannot be worship in the kind reserved only for the principle of our creation and redemption. XXII. The example drawn from the Old Testament for the adoration of angels are to be referred to the civil adoration of those who appeared to them in human form (according to the eastern manners) and who were supposed to be men; or they pertain to the uncreated angel (viz. the Son of God, who before his incarnation often appeared to the fathers under such a form). This is easily gathered from the circumstances of the passages where: A. Abraham prostrated himself before one of the angels who addressed him, from which he knew that he was God, and so he calls him "Jehovah" (Gen. 18:3) B. he prays to him for the safety of Sodom C. he calls him "the Judge of the whole earth" (v. 25) XXIII. The "seven spirits" mentioned in Revelation 1:4 are not created, but the Holy Spirit, who (on account of a multiple variety of gifts and relatively to the seven Asiatic churches, to whom he was to be communicated) is so called. This is evident: A. because they are placed in the rank with the Father and the Son in invocation, by http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/turretin_topic07.html (16 of 17) [7/29/2008 8:31:54 PM]


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which "grace" and "peace" are sought for the churches B. they are put before the Son himself, not on account of priority of nature and anteriority in order of existence, but both on account of the economy of office undertaken by Christ and on account of the series of the following words, which treat of Christ XXIV. Diversity of excellence in subjects demands indeed diversity of worship, but not a diversity of religious worship. As the latter has for its object only an infinite and uncreated excellence, it cannot be multiple but must be one alone. XXV. Civil worship means either strictly that which is such, given on account of merely civil causes; broadly that which is only civil in the latter sense, in this sense it is attributed to the angels.

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Francis Turretin - Institutes of Elenctic Theology - Angels