Later below, we shall see that to Luther — Revelation chapters nine to twenty are historicalistic predictions of the course of Church History from the end of the sixth century onward until its final triumph over its two doughtiest opponents, the Romish Papacy and Muhammad's Islam. For the moment, however, let us first turn to the views of that even greater Protestant theologian — John Calvin, and those who follow him (the Calvinists).
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Needless to say, if Calvin the historicalist had only lived long enough to write a commentary also on the Book of Revelation — it is clear (also from the insights of Calvinists after him) that he too would have shared many of their views even on that last Book of the Bible. For his own views and predictions about Islam are adequately apparent from his Institutes, his Letters, his Tracts, his Treatises — and above all from his Commentaries and/or Sermons on Deuteronomy, Job, Isaiah, Daniel, John, Romans, Galatians, Second Thessalonians, Second Timothy, and First John (whose writer wrote also the Book of Revelation).65
We wish to claim, then, that Calvin's own views on the above are not modified but rather very faithfully presented by subsequent Calvinists. Indeed, we claim that the Calvinistic understanding of the Book of Revelation is usefully summarized by that godly and famous Westminster Assembly Calvinistic theologian — Rev. Dr. Thomas Goodwin. For, as he himself wrote in his great work An Exposition of the Revelation:66 "I rest assured that the light which hath broken forth in many of our Reformed Churches since Calvin’s time, and which still increaseth and shall until Antichrist be consumed
is both in matter of doctrine, interpretation of Scriptures, worship, church government, &c., much purer; and might be taken for a truer measure than what shines in the story and writings of those…primitive ages."
Here, then, is how the Calvinist Goodwin sees the historicalistic sequence of events successively presented in the Book of Revelation. We present first his general survey of the whole Book of Revelation from chapter one through chapter twentytwo.
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"Christ," explains Goodwin,67 "when He ascended up to heaven, found the Roman Monarchy whose room He was to possess, stretched both over east and west — even over all those parts of the World where He was to seat His Church and Kingdom…. Hereupon Christ, the designed King, first sets upon the conquest of Satan's dominion — and…by the preaching of the Gospel overturns that vast empire…and
turns both it and its emperors to Christianity within the space of three hundred years. This is the sum and mind of the 6th chapter….
"But this empire, though wholly turned ‘Christian’ in outward profession — yet, having persecuted His Church whilst idolatrous, and also after it was ‘Christian’ -[became weakened] when Arian. Therefore…He further proceeds to ruin the civil imperial power of the empire itself by the trumpets in the 8th and 9th chapters. And the empire then becoming divided into two parts, the eastern and western empire as they were commonly called.
"First He ruins the imperial western state and power in Europe by the four first trumpets, the wars of the Goths, by four several steps, in the 8th chapter…. Then [He ruins] the imperial eastern state which stood after the other…, first by the Saracens [and] then by the Turks (and these two are the fifth and sixth trumpets) which two possess all that eastern part unto this day….