Selection from "Of Predestination" lectures 15 and 16 of The Common Principles of the Christian Religion (first printed 1667)

Hugh Binning (1627-1653)

…men…think God was disappointed in his work…They cannot believe that his majesty had all this sin and misery determined with him when he purposed to create him, but look upon…man's fall into sin and misery as a surprise to his majesty….they bring in foreknowledge to smooth their irreligious conceit of God…And that little or nothing may be left to the absolute sovereign will of God, to which the Scripture ascribes all things, they must again imagine, that upon his purpose of sending Christ to save sinners, he is yet undetermined about the particular end of particular men, but watches on the tower of foreknowledge to espy what they will do, whether men will believe on his Son or not, whether they will persevere in faith or not; and according to his observation of their doings, so he applies his own will to carve out their reward or portion of life or death. These are even the thoughts which are inbred in your breasts by nature. That which the learned call Arminianism is nothing else but the carnal reason of men's hearts, which is enmity to God.

… predestination falls out, not according to our carriage, but according to the purpose of him who 'works all things' that he works, 'after the counsel of his own will,' without consulting our will … He had no sooner a thought of working and making man, but this purpose was in it, to make such men to the praise of his glorious grace, and to fore-ordain them to an inheritance, and others to make or fit them for destruction, as the text, Rom. 9:22, bears...The whole tenor of the Scriptures shows that his majesty was not surprised and taken at unawares by Adam's fall, but that it fell out according to the determinate counsel of his will. If he knew it, and suffered it to be, certainly he permitted it, because he willed it should be so … Why may not he decree such a fall, who out of man's ruins can erect such a glorious throne for his grace and justice to triumph into? It is more for the glory of his infinite wisdom, to bring good, and such a good out of evil, than only to permit that good should be. seems unrighteousness with God, to predestinate men to eternal death, without their own evil deserving, or any forethought of it, — that before any man had a being, God should have been in his counsel fitting so many to destruction. Is it not a strange mocking of the creatures, to punish them for that sin and corruption, unto which by his eternal counsel they were fore-ordained? …. A sophister could press it further, and take advantage from that very ground — What! Is not this to establish a mere tyranny in the Lord; that he doeth all things of mere will and pleasure, distributes rewards and punishments without previous consideration of men's carriage? But here we must stand, and go no farther than the scriptures walk with us. Whatever reasons or causes may be assigned, yet certainly we must at length come up hither. All things are, because he so willed…


Selections from “Of the Divine Decrees” and "Of Predestination," chapters 3 and 4 of De Doctrina Christiana (Christian Doctrine)

John Milton

God of his wisdom determined to create men and angels reasonable beings, and therefore free agents; foreseeing at the same time which way the bias of their own will would incline, in the exercise of their own uncontrolled liberty. What then? Shall we say that this foresight or foreknowledge on the part of God imposed on them the necessity of acting in any definite way? No more than if the future event had been foreseen by any human being…we must hold that God foreknows all future events, but that he has not decreed them all absolutely: lest the consequence should be that sin in general would be imputed to the Deity…[to consider otherwise], the very name of liberty must altogether be abolished as an uninteresting sound…[for] there can be nothing but what will happen necessarily, since there is nothing but what is foreknown by God.

the ultimate purpose of predestination is salvation of believers—a thing in itself desirable—whereas the object which reprobation has in view is the destruction of unbelievers, a thing in itself ungrateful and odious; whence it is clear that God could never have predestined reprobation, or proposed it to himself as an end…

Predestinated; that is, designated, elected: proposed to himself the salvation of man as the scope and end of his counsel. Hence may be refuted the notion of a preterition and desertion from all eternity, in direct opposition to which God explicitly and frequently declares…that he desires not the death of any one, but the salvation of all; that he hates nothing that he has made; and that he has omitted nothing which might suffice for universal salvation.

God originally foreknew those who should believe, that is, he decreed or announced it as his pleasure that it should be those alone who should find grace in his sight through Christ, that is, all men, if they would believe. These he predestined to salvation, and to this end he in various ways called all mankind to believe

commentators are wrong in interpreting the foreknowledge of God in these passages in the sense of prescience; since the prescience of God seems to have no connection with the principle or essence of predestination; for God has predestinated and elected whoever believes and continues in the faith.