Reminiscences Of Atonement Theory -- By: George Mooar
BSac 58:230 (April 1901) p. 294
Reminiscences Of Atonement Theory
Fifty years ago, a boy born in Andover, schooled in Phillips Academy, whose pastor was a trustee of the seminary, to whose eyes the faces and forms of the Professors Woods and Stuart had been familiar, could hardly pass his minority without thinking of the assertion that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. All the more, if, because of close family connection with the biographer of Edward Payson, he had felt the evangelical passion of that fervid preacher; or if, in odd moments of a Sunday, he had been wont to turn over the pages of some volume of the Panoplist containing accounts of the events which accompanied the sundering of old ties in the churches of the Puritan fathers.
Nor would his interest in this topic be lessened on being transferred for his college course to a Berkshire valley. For in that county Jonathan Edwards had written some of his seed-thoughts, and Samuel Hopkins had been his near neighbor. Stephen West, who had succeeded Edwards, had continued for nearly sixty years pastor in Stock-bridge, had been an influential trustee of Williams College, and had written one of the earliest and best treatises on the Atonement. Edward Dorr Griffin, who also composed an elaborate discussion on the same topic, had presided over the college during those very years in which Mark Hopkins and his brother Albert, natives of Stockbridge, were taking their college course. These brothers were of the Hopkinsian blood. Great as became the formative in-
BSac 58:230 (April 1901) p. 295
fluence of the elder of these brothers over the intellectual life of his students, the immediate personal power as respects religion was at this time swayed by Professor Albert Hopkins.
Scientist he was, and in no small degree a practical pioneer in his department, but his sense of religion was amazingly pungent, persistent, and constraining. In marrying a daughter of Dr. Payson, herself a woman of marked gifts, he might almost have been said to do so by some elective affinity with her father. Certainly the evangelical passion which had been felt in reading the memoirs, now, under the influence of this professor, deepened into the positive Christian purpose. For he was capable of presenting the theme of salvation in very vivid terms. For one example may be recalled a sermon from these words: —
“Who is this that cometh from Edom,
With crimsoned garments from Bozrah?
This that is glorious in apparel,
Marching in the greatness of his strength?
I that speak in righteousness,
Mighty to save.”
Respecting the correctness of the exegesis, or the order of thought in unfolding the picture, little i...
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