To Predestinate therefore is, to purpose and determine something with ones self, that it should have a being, before such time that it be, or do anything: and withal, it is the setting apart, and ordaining of that thing unto some certain end. This belongs not peculiarly only to God himself, but also ought to have relation to every wise and prudent man, which before he take in hand to bring to pass any thing, is wont seriously and advisedly to have some consultation, concerning the end for which he will bring that thing to pass. But when this is attributed unto God, it is also very large, and is extended generally unto all creatures, which God from everlasting by his certain decree has ordained and disposed to this or that use and end before they were created. But here, when we speak of mankind, and their end, this word of predestination is to be referred unto that deep and hidden counsel of God, by which he has from everlasting, before the foundations of the world were laid, decreed to create mankind in true holiness and righteousness according to his own image. And that this is so, that Scripture witnesses in many places, and the event itself confirmed it by experience of the deed done. The second degree of predestination is, whereby God in his most just and most wise judgment determined to permit and suffer that mankind should be tempted of the devil, and should also fall into sin and eternal destruction.
Here it is inserted a certain digression of the fall of our first parents, which, although they consented unto the serpents persuasion by their own proper and voluntary will, and so fell from God, yet this their falling away, was not altogether without God’s eternal purpose. Chap. 6.
As God from everlasting did foresee and ordain all other things, so among these, this fall of mankind, in the person of our first parents, and all other evils which followed and flowed from thence. So that he was willing to suffer, and not to hinder this fall, that it might be done by others, and not by himself: otherwise, it had been even as easy for him to have kept our first parents from falling, as it was to create them. For look how easy it is for him to do that which he wills, so easy likewise is it for him to hinder that which he wills not, as Saint Augustine says [lib. Corrupt., & grat. ca. 56.]. Neither was it any injustice in him, but altogether just, in that he did not keep them from falling, but suffered them to be overcome by the serpent’s persuasion, and so to fall into eternal death. For God was not bound unto them that he should preserve them and keep them from falling, because he did not promise it. Nay, God was not bound unto them, to create them according unto his own image, because he is a most free agent, therefore, much less was he bound unto them, to save them from falling. Yea, our first parents of their own voluntary and free-will, without any constraint, did treacherously fall away from God, and so falling away, did infect both themselves, and all their posterity with sin, and made them liable unto eternal destruction.
But God not unwillingly, but willingly permitted them to fall; otherwise, if anything, though never so little, could be brought to pass, God not being willing thereunto, then God should not be God. Our first parents therefore in regard of themselves, did that which God would not have, but in respect of the omnipotence of God, they could by no means do it. Wherefore it is not to be doubted, but that God does righteously, in suffering those things which are done so wickedly, as Saint Augustine says [Lib. De corrupt. & grat. capit. 100.] And although God do suffer this or that evil action to be committed and not hinder it: yet for all that, he does not himself bring to pass that evil, nor allow of it. But good things which are conformable to his heavenly wisdom, those he foresaw from everlasting, and decreed to bring to pass and effect them. Therefore God by himself is the first cause, and the only effecter of these things, because that good things spring and flow forth out of the power of his divine providence, as out of the only fountain that is never dried up. But evil things, although God also foresaw them from everlasting, and knew that they would come to pass, yet he himself, neither approves them, nor furthers them, nor helps them, nor brings them to pass directly, but by his just judgment suffers them to be committed and done by others. Therefore God is not to be counted as the first cause and effecter of them, but Satan himself, and man’s free-will do begin them and end them. So that Satan and wicked men are the true and proper causes of evil. All things therefore whatsoever are done, although they be done by God’s providence, from which nothing can be exempted, yet some of them are done, his providence permitting, appointing and directing them to their proper ends. Therefore all evil and wicked deeds whatsoever, are committed and done, God’s providence not effecting, but suffering them, because that God decreed not that he would himself effect them from everlasting, but because he decreed to suffer, and not to hinder them to be done by others. So that God not unwillingly, but willingly suffered our first parents to sin. They therefore which attribute unto God a permission, which should be contrary to his will, they deny him to be omnipotent. For he that permits anything to be done, which by no means he would have done, surely he is not of such power, as to let and hinder that which he would not have done. Therefore what things soever God suffers to be done, he suffers them willingly, for nothing can be possibly be done, if he be unwilling, or against it. Hence it follows not, that God allows and approves sins in themselves, as they are things simply evil and contrary unto his will, but rather he hates them with his whole will and nature, and (except he mercifully pardon them) he revenges and punishes them with eternal torments.
Herman Renecher, The Golden Chayne of Salvation (At London: Printed by Valentine Simmes for Thomas Man, dwelling in Paternost row at the Signe of the Tablot, 1604), 22- 25. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; marginal references cited inline; and underlining mine.] [Note: Rennecher’s continuing discussion on divine permission is also worth reading.]