Daniel 7:15-16

15. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

15. Succisus fuit spiritus meus mihi Danieli, 1 in medio corporis, 2 et visiones capitas mei terruerunt me.

16. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

16. Accessi ad unum ex his qui aderant, et sciscitatus sum ex eo veritatum super his omnibus: et dixit mihi, et enarrationem sermonum patefecit mihi.


Daniel says, his spirit was either cut off or vanished, as if he suffered some mental deficiency. In this way God wished to communicate to his servant the magnitude of the vision. And he inspires us also with reverence for this vision, lest we should treat it coldly and commonly. But we ought to understand how God opens up to Daniel, his servant, and to us by his assistance and ministry, these mysteries which meaning; be otherwise comprehended by our human senses. For if Daniel, whom we know to have been a remarkable Prophet, felt his spirit to be so deficient and nearly vanishing away, surely we who as yet know so little of God's mysteries, nay, who have scarcely tasted their first rudiments, never can attain so great a height, unless we overcome the world and shake off all human sensations. For these things cannot be perceived by us unless our minds are clear and completely purified.

He says, therefore, in the first place, his spirit was cut off, or vanished, in the midst of his body; as if he had said he was almost lifeless and nearly dead. And he added, as reason, the visions of his head had frightened him. No one can faint away -- an event which sometimes happens -- with-out a cause. When that terror called a panic seizes upon some persons, we observe how they become deprived of self-possession, and lie almost lifeless. But Daniel, to shew himself separate from such persons, says he was frightened or disturbed by visions of his head; as if he had said, he was not disturbed without occasion, but it was caused by the mystery of which the vision had been offered to him. He came to one of those standing by. He had said a short time before, ten thousand times ten thousand were at the right hand of the tribunal of God. Without the slightest doubt, the Prophet asked one of these angels. And here we must notice his modesty and docility in flying to some instructor, because he was conscious of his own ignorance and found no other remedy. At the same time, we are taught by the Prophet's example not to reject all visions, but to seek their interpretation from God himself. Although God in these days does not address us by visions, yet he wishes us to be content with his Law and Gospel, while angels do not appear to us, and do not openly and conspicuously descend from heaven; but, since Scripture is obscure to us, through the darkness in which we are involved, let us learn not to reject whatever surpasses our capacity, even when some dark veil envelops it, but let us fly to the remedy which Daniel used, not to seek the understanding of God's word from angels, who do not appear to us, but from Christ himself, who in these days teaches us familiarly by means of pastors and ministers of the gospel. Now, as a supreme and only Master has been given us from the Father, so also he exercises the office of teacher by his own ministers whom he set over us. (Matthew 23:8, 10.) Therefore, as Daniel approached the angel who was near him, so we are daily commanded to approach those who have been entrusted with the gift of interpretation and who can faithfully explain to us things otherwise obscure. Our confidence, too, ought to be increased by what follows directly: The angel spoke, and opened the interpretation of the words. Daniel here shews his modesty and humility not to have been in vain, as God commanded the angel to explain all obscurities. So, without doubt, Christ will at this time satisfy our prayers, if we are truly his disciples; that is, if, after those mysteries which surpass and absorb all our senses have terrified us, we fly to that order which he has prescribed for us, and seen from faithful ministers and teachers the interpretation of those things which are difficult and obscure, and entirely concealed from us.


Grant, Almighty God, since the faith of the fathers was supported by obscure shadows, by which thou didst wish it to be nourished, until thy Son was manifestly revealed to us in the flesh: Grant, I pray thee, at this day, after he has appeared to us as the best and most perfect teacher, and explained thy counsels to us similarly, that we may not be either so dull or so careless as to allow the great clearness of the manifestation of thyself offered us in the Gospel to escape from our grasp. May we be so directed towards life eternal, until after the performance of our course in this present life, and the removal of all obstacles which Satan places in our way, either to delay us or turn us aside, we may at length arrive at the enjoyment of that blessed life in which Christ., thine only begotten Son, has preceded us. May we thus be co-heirs with him, and as thou hast appointed him sole inheritor, so may he gather us unto the secure inheritance of a blessed immortality. Amen.

Lecture Thirty-Sixth.

1 Or vanished, or my spirit was wanting to me, Daniel. -- Calvin.

2 Or "sheath," properly; but here this noun is transferred metaphorically to the body. -- Calvin. Aben-Ezra calls the body "the sheath" of the mind. -- Ed.