In reference to men, predestination is divided into two parts: 1st — as it relates to the elect, and 2nd — as it relates to the non-elect. Having decreed to create a world and to people it with beings who would voluntarily sin against him, he determined from eternity to save some and to leave others to perish in their sins. “Willing to show his wrath and to make his power known,” he “endured with much longsuffering” these as “the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on” those as “the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:22-23).
To carry out his purpose of grace, he chose some to holiness and eternal life, entered for their sake into the Covenant of Redemption with the Son and the Holy Ghost, appointed his Son as their substitute, to suffer in their stead, and, having died, to rise again and appear as their advocate before his throne, appointed all the intermediate means necessary and, by an infallible decree, made their salvation sure. Those “whose names are not written in the book of life” (Rev. 20:15), who are “appointed to wrath” (1 Thes. 5:9), who were “before of old ordained to condemnation” (Jude 4), who would “stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed” (1 Pet. 2:8), he determined to leave in their sins and to endure them with much long suffering, as vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.
The elect are chosen, not because God foresees faith and good works in them; but in part that they might have faith and might perform good works; or, in the language of the Confession of Faith, quoted by our author: “God hath chosen them in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto.” God’s act in electing some and not others is to be resolved into his sovereign will He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom 9:18).
While, by an immutable decree, He has made all things in time fixed and sure, all this occurs in perfect consistency with the free agency of the creature, and God is not the author of sin. The elect are, by the influence of sovereign grace made willing in the day of God’s power and those not elected have no active principle of disobedience imparted to them, and feel no restraint upon their wills — they are simply passed by, and permitted to follow the inclinations of their own hearts. While they work out God’s purposes, they do it unconsciously and wickedly. “Him (Christ) being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).
Patrick Hues Mell (1814 – 1888) President, Southern Baptist Convention 1863-1871 and 1880-1887 From “Predestination and the Saints’ Perseverance”