Part 2 Chapter 3

Section 2—John 10:15.

And I lay down my life for the sheep.

The argument from hence, in favor of the doctrine of particular redemption, is taken from the character of the persons for whom Christ laid down his life, who are his sheep, whom he is said to know, and they are said to know him, hear his voice, and follow him; to whom he gives eternal life, so as that they shall never perish: all which is not true of every individual of mankind. In some parallel places they are said to be his friends,for whom he laid down his life (John 15:13), and are distinguished from others; being such who keep the commandments of Christ, which all men do not; as having the secrets of Christ communicated to them, which servants have not; and as being chosen and ordained by Christ to go and bring forth fruit,which is not the case of all mankind. And in Ephesians 5:25, they are said to be the church,for whom Christ gave himself; which must be distinct from the world, and can design no other than the church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven: and, therefore, since these are the discriminating characters of the persons for whom Christ died, it follows, that he died for some only, and not for every individual of human nature. In answer to this,

1. It is observed,[1] that “in none of these places it is said that Christ died only for his sheep, for his friends,or for his church;and, therefore, none of them say anything in contradiction to our assertion” of general redemption. I reply, this objection is much like what the Papists make against the doctrine of justification by faith. They own the Scriptures say, that we are justified by faith, but not by faith only.Now it may with as much propriety be said, that other, besides those which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham, because the Scriptures do not say that they which be of faith only are blessed with him, or that there are more gods and more mediators than one, because the text does not say, there is only one God, and only one Mediator; yea, it might be urged with equal strength, that men may love other women besides their own wives, in the same manner they love them, because it is not said, husbands love your wives only,as it may that Christ loved others, and gave himself for others, besides his church; because it is not said, he loved his church only and gave himself for his church only. But, though this restrictive word is not expressed, it is evidently implied; for, if Christ laid down his life, and gave himself for every individual man, these peculiar and discriminating characters would be utterly unnecessary. And, after all, it is owned by our opponents,[2] that “eventually Christ is the Savior of his body, and died only for his sheep and friends.”

2. The argument is retorted upon thus;[3] “He that died for his friends, and for his enemies, for the church of God, and for the unrighteous, that he might bring them to the church of God; for the sheep that heard his voice, and for the lost ones that did not hearken to his voice, died for all. But Christ died for his friends, etc., therefore he died for all.” The fallacy of this argument will easily appear, when it is observed, that they are, the same individual persons who are styled the enemies and friends of Christ, the unrighteous, and the church, the lost sheep, and such as hearken to Christ's voice; being the former as considered in their  unregenerate estate, and the latter through the power of his grace upon them.


[1] Whitby, p. 116; ed. 2.114; Remonstr. in Coll. Hag. art. 2:p. 172; Limborch, p. 325.

[2] Whitby, p. 117; ed. 2.114.

[3] Ibid. p. 119; ed. 2.114.

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