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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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Is the satisfying Divine Justice by Jesus Christ giving himself a ransom for us, undergoing the penalty due to our sins, and thereby releasing us from that punishment which God might justly inflict upon us, Romans 5:11 . The Hebrew word signifies covering, and intimates that our offences are, by a proper atonement, covered from the avenging justice of God.

In order to understand the manner wherein Christ becomes an atonement, "we should, " says Dr. Watts, "consider the following propositions,

1. The great God having made man, appointed to govern him by a wise and righteous law, wherein glory and honour, life and immortality, are the designed rewards for perfect obedience; but tribulation and wrath, pain and death, are the appointed recompense to those who violate this law, Genesis 3:1-24 : Romans 2:6; Romans 2:16 . Romans 1:32 .

2. All mankind have broken this law, Romans 3:23 . Romans 5:12 .

3. God, in his infinite wisdom, did not think fit to pardon sinful man, without some compensation for his broken law; for, 1. If the great Ruler of the world had pardoned the sins of men without any satisfaction, then his laws might have seemed not worth the vindicating.-2. Men would have been tempted to persist in the rebellion, and to repeat their old offences. -3. His forms of government among his creatures might have appeared as a matter of small importance.

4. God had a mind to make a very illustrious display both of his justice and of his grace among mankind; on these accounts he would not pardon sin without a satisfaction.

5. Man, sinful man, is not able to make any satisfaction to God for his own sins, neither by his labours, nor by his sufferings, Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:8-9 .

6. Though man be incapable to satisfy for his own violation of the law, yet God would not suffer all mankind to perish.

7. Because God intended to make a full display of the terrors of his justice, and his divine resentment for the violation of his law, therefore he appointed his own Son to satisfy for the breach of it, by becoming a proper sacrifice of expiation or atonement, Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:13

8. The Son of God being immortal, could not sustain all these penalties of the law which man had broken, without taking the mortal nature of man upon him, without assuming flesh and blood. Hebrews 2:13-14 .

9. The Divine Being having received such ample satisfaction for sin by the sufferings of his own Son, can honourably forgive his creature man, who was the transgressor, Romans 3:25-26 .

Now that this doctrine is true, will appear, if we consider,

1. That an atonement for sin, or an effectual method to answer the demands of an offended God, is the first great blessing guilty man stood in need of, Micah 6:6; Micah 7:1-20 :

2. The very first discoveries of grace which were made to man after his fall implied in them something of an atonement for sin, and pointed to the propitiation Christ has now made, Genesis 3:15 .

3. The train of ceremonies which were appointed by God in the Jewish church are plain signification of such an atonement, 2 Corinthians 3:1-18 : Colossians 2:7-9 . Hebrews 10:1-39 :

4. Some of the prophesies confirm and explain the first promise, and show that Christ was to die as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of men, Daniel 9:24-26 . Is. 53:

5. Our Saviour himself taught us the doctrine of the atonement for sin by his death, Matthew 20:28 . John 6:51 . Luke 22:19 .

6. The terrors of soul, the consternation and inward agonies which our blessed Lord sustained a little before his death, were a sufficient proof that he endured punishment in his soul which were due to sin, Mark 14:33 . Hebrews 5:7 .

7. This doctrine is declared, and confirmed, and explained at large, by the apostles in their writings, 1 Corinthians 15:3 . Ephesians 1:7 . 1 John 2:2 , &c.&c.

8. This was the doctrine that was witnessed to the world by the amazing gifts of the Holy Ghost, which attended the Gospel.(

9. See the Acts of the Apostles.)

The inferences and uses to be derived from this doctrine are these:

1. How vain are all the labours and pretences of mankind to seek or hope for any better religion than that which is contained in the Gospel of Christ. It is here alone that we can find the solid and rational principle of reconciliation to an offended God, Hebrews 4:14 .

2. How strange and unreasonable is the doctrine of the Popish church, who, while they profess to believe the religion of Christ, yet introduce many other methods of atonement for sin, besides the sufferings of the Son of God. (

3. See above.)

4. Here is a solid foundation, on which the greatest of sinners may hope for acceptance with God. 1 Timothy 1:1-20

5. This doctrine should be used as a powerful motive to excite repentance, Acts 5:31 .

6. We should use this atonement of Christ as our constant way of access to God in all our prayers, Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 10:22 .

7. Also as a divine guard against sin, Romans 6:1-2 . 1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 1:19 .

8. As an argument of prevailing force to be used in prayer, Romans 8:32 .

9. As a spring of love to God, and to his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:10 .

10. As a strong persuasive to that love and pity which we should show on all occasions to our fellow creatures, 1 John 4:11 .

11. It should excite patience and holy joy under afflictions and earthly sorrows, Romans 5:1-3 .

12. We should consider it as an invitation to the Lord's supper, where Christ is set forth to us in the memorials of his propitiation.

13. As a most effectual defense against the terrors of dying, and as our joyful hope of a blessed resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:50 .

14. Lastly, as a divine allurement to the upper world."

See Watt's Sermons, ser. 34, 35, 36, 37; Evans on the Atonement; Dr Owen on the Satisfaction of Christ; West's Scripture Doctrine of the Atonement; Hervey's Theron and Apasio, dialogue 3; Dr. Magee's Discourses on the Atonement; Jerram's Letters on ditto.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Atonement'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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