Atonement -- By: Enoch Pond
BSac 13:49 (Jan 1856) p. 130
The word atonement occurs but once in our English New Testament, and is the translation of a Greek word (καταλλαγήν), which, in every other instance, is rendered reconciliation. An atonement therefore, in the sense of our translators, is a reconciliation. But the word has undergone a slight change of meaning, within the last two hundred years. As now used, it denotes, not so much a reconciliation, as that which is done to open and prepare the way for a reconciliation. As used by evangelical Christians, it refers to what has been done by our Lord Jesus Christ, to open a way for the recovery and salvation of sinful men, that so a reconciliation may be effected between them and their Maker.
There were atonements under the former dispensation; but these were merely of a typical character. The blood of beasts was designed to prefigure, to shadow forth, the great atonement which, in the fulness of time, was to be made by the blood of Christ upon the cross. We shall have no occasion to refer to these typical atonements, except as they serve to throw light upon the important doctrine now before us.
It may be proper to say, in passing, that the word atonement is seldom used by the older Protestant theologians, except in reference to the typical atonements of the Old Testament. It does not occur, we think, in any of the confessions or catechisms of the Reformed churches, and probably not in any of the theological writings of the seventeenth century. Not even President Edwards, or Dr. Hopkins has aught to say of the atonement of Christ, under that specific name. They have much to say of his work of redemption, and what is now called the atonement is merged in that.
The separating of the atonement from the more general doctrine of redemption, has tended much to simplify the sub-
BSac 13:49 (Jan 1856) p. 131
ject, and so has been a real gain to theology. The atonement of Christ is a specific work; it relates to what he did and suffered to open a way for the salvation of sinners. Redemption is a more general work, including all that Christ has ever done, or will do, in promoting and securing the salvation of his people. The atonement is universal, as to its sufficiency. Redemption, in the full sense of the term, applies only to the elect. The work of atonement was finished, when Christ bowed his head and gave up the ghost. The work of redemption is not yet finished, nor will it be, until all the elect are gathered in.
In entering upon the discussion before us, our first inquiry is as to the necessity of an atonement. There are those who doubt this necessity. ...
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