Predestination is the decree of God, by which (according to the counsel of His own will) He fore-ordained some of mankind to eternal life, and refused or passed by others; for the praise of His glorious mercy and justice. Some are vessels of mercy, others are vessels of wrath. "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; And that he might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory" (Romans 9:21-23).
In a great house are various vessels both for use and ornament; vessels of honour, and vessels of dishonour, (2Ti 2:20); and the master of the house hath a right to, and can wisely use, all his vessels, even as he shall think proper. God hath His use even of Pharaoh and of the church's greatest enemies; if it be but scullion work, to brighten vessels of mercy by them. God hath appointed the Elect unto Glory; and He hath by the eternal and most free purpose of His will fore-ordained all the means thereunto; such as redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Holy Ghost, effectual calling and conversion, justification in the court of conscience by saving faith in Jesus' merits, sanctification in the heart by the Spirit, producing holy living and holy walking with God and man. And these blessed participators are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1Pe 1:5). "Whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them he also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. What shall we then say to these things?" (Romans 8:30,31). We will say with the apostle, "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation" (1Th 5:9).
It is called destination, as it comprehends a determined order of the means to the end; and pre-destination, because God appointed this order in and with Himself before the actual existence of those things so ordered. The Greek word signifies a fore-separated for God's special use; as Israel was separated from among all the nations of the world to be God's peculiar inheritance. "I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people" (Lev 20:24). "The Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth" (Deu 7:6). I have separated you to become vessels of mercy, members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Ghost, before all time, even from all eternity. As Divine prescience is sometimes largely taken for predestination, "God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew" (Romans 11:2), that is, whom He did predestinate; so, in like manner, predestination is taken strictly and in part for election itself (Romans 8:30; Eph 1:5). I shall handle it accordingly in this following treatise, using the words Election and Predestination promiscuously.
Predestination is also called a Divine decree, for in it is the determinate counsel of God, and the counsel of His own will, in bringing to pass such ends by such and such means. "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done" (Act 4:27,28). "Having predestinated us . . . according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph 1:5). "Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph 1:11). The election and predestination of the Lord is, in Scripture phrase, termed the "hand," the "determinate counsel," the "purpose," the "good pleasure" of God (Act 2:23; Eph 1:9).
The Divine decree of Predestination hath various properties; it is eternal, unchangeable, absolute, free, discriminating, and extensive.