The doctrine, as we think, necessarily grows out of the character of God, and his connection with the universe as its creator, upholder, and governor.
The following series of propositions, analytically disposed, contains, as we conceive, both the statement, and the proof of it:
1. This earth was created by God, and, consequently, there was a period when it began to exist.
2. God created it not of necessity, or from impulse, but according to the good pleasure of His will, and as the result of a settled purpose entertained from eternity.
3. As an infinitely wise and reasonable being, he had some ultimate object, well-defined, and specific, which he proposed to attain by its creation (Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11).
4. Possessing infinite knowledge, he knew, by intuition not only all things that have existed, and shall exist, but all things possible — “all possible causes, and all their possible effects” (Ps. 147:5; 1 Sam. 23:11,12; Mt. 11:21,23). Therefore, out of an endless diversity of worlds comprehended in the divine knowledge as possible, he selected such an one as this composed as it is, and peopled as it is, — as the most suitable means for the accomplishment of his purpose: and decreed that it should exist (Col. 1:16).
5. That this ultimate object might be attained, and the end infallibly secured, he ordained, with unerring certainty, all the means necessary, both in the world of matter, and in the world of mind. He not only fixed, from eternity, all the forms, positions, relations, and motions of matter, even to the numbering of the hairs of our heads, and deciding when a sparrow should fall — in directing the motions of the particles of dust in the atmosphere, (Isa. 40: 12) and ordaining when the sun should shine, (Job 9:7) and when the wind should blow, (Ps. 135:7), but he “fixed from eternity all the circumstances in the life of every individual or mankind and all the particulars which will compose the history of the human race from its commencement to its close.”
6. God’s foreknowledge relates to those things that should occur in time; and he foreknew, therefore, that those would occur rather than the other innumerable things that were possible, because he had decreed that they, and not others, should exist. (Eph. 1:11; Acts 15:18; Ps. 115:6; Acts 17:26).
7. The world, therefore, in all its physical and moral details, is just as God designed it to be — the entrance of moral evil itself not excepted. He did not err in his plan, therefore evil did not enter unexpectedly to him — he has not been frustrated in his purpose, therefore it did not enter in spite of him. And this too is in perfect consistency with the declaration of scripture, that God is not the author of sin.
8. God is not only the creator but the upholder of all things (Heb. 1:3). In him we live, and move, and have our being. He not only bestowed upon men their faculties, but He gives them the ability to use them. He preserves those powers when they are employed in opposition to him, no less than when they are employed in his service.
9. This he does not from a choice of evils, i.e. not because he is compelled, by the force of circumstances, which he cannot control, to take this as an evil rather than some other that is greater, for, possessing almighty power, he might have paralyzed those faculties, or prevented their abuse by changing the hearts of their owners.
10. Possessing infallible prescience, he foresaw all the instances in which ungodly men would sin against him; and, permitting it in time, he determined to permit it from all eternity, and decreeing from eternity to permit it, it entered into his plan, and composed a part of the purpose which he entertained before the world was.
11. God, as the governor of the world, administers all things according to his sovereign pleasure. He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
12. “He did not merely decree that general laws should be established for the government of the world, but he settled the application of those laws to all particular cases.” Our days are numbered, and so are the hairs of our heads. His providence takes cognizance of, and controls everything however minute (Ps. 135:6; Acts 17:25, 26, 28; Matt. 6:26, 30, &c). “It upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures, actions and things, from the greatest even to the least.”
13. Now, as known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world, and, as he is immutable in his nature, it follows that what he does in time he determined to do from eternity — that his providence is but the enforcement of those laws and the revealment of those plans, which existed before the world was. Finally, it follows that “whatever occurs in time was fore-ordained before the beginning of time.”
Patrick Hues Mell (1814 – 1888) President, Southern Baptist Convention 1863-1871 and 1880-1887 from “Predestination and the Saints’ Perseverance”