After reading the following quote from Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington in The Great Exchange, a TSS reader asks, “Who is George Smeaton?”
I know Smeaton authored two books on the atonement — The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement (1870/1991) and Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (1870/1991). Both were reprinted by the Banner of Truth in 1991
but neither appear to be in print and at least one is in print. Neither of these books (not even Smeaton himself) appear in the book or lengthy bibliography of Pierced For our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey and Andrew Sach. So who is George Smeaton?
Listen to Bridges and Bevington’s comments from the intro of The Great Exchange:
“This book is patterned after a nineteenth-century classic, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement, written by Scottish theologian George Smeaton. While our book is neither an abridgment nor a modernization, it is nevertheless designed to make the brilliance and depth of Smeaton’s work accessible to mainstream readers …
There are two features of Smeaton’s book The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement that make it relevant and important to us today. First, he examines and expounds every passage of Scripture from Acts through Revelation that deals with the atonement. Because of Smeaton’s design to address every passage dealing with the subject, the book is redundant in a wonderfully effectual manner — the reader keeps getting the same message from slightly different perspectives so as to enhance, embellish, and deepen his or her understanding of the gospel. And with that comes passion for the person of Christ and gratitude for his finished work on the cross.
Second, Smeaton provides excellent description and emphasis on the believer’s union with Christ as the basis for our ability to enjoy the benefits of Christ’s atoning work. Today, for example, some people ask how it can be just for God to punish an innocent man, Jesus, for the sins of other people. The answer, which is clearly taught in Scripture, is found in the believer’s legal union with Christ; that is, because Christ was our representative in his life and death, it was just of God to punish him for our sins. As the prophet Isaiah said, “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).
Before Christ died for our sins, however, he lived a perfectly obedient life. He fully obeyed the moral will of God every second of his life. And just as our sins were charged to him so that he justly paid their penalty, so Christ’s perfect obedience, which culminated in his obedience unto death on the cross, is credited to all who trust in him—once again because of our legal union with him. And it is Smeaton’s grasp of this truth and his continual emphasis of it that makes his book so exciting. …
George Smeaton also authored a companion volume to The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement entitled Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement, which examines similar Bible texts in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and in which Christ personally explains the scope, nature, and outcome of his upcoming death on behalf of sinners. Smeaton examines how Jesus explains his death and resurrection as the guarantee that God indeed forgives those sinners who trust in his substitutionary death for the resolution of their personal sin dilemma. In these gospel accounts, Jesus offered insight into the divine view of the cross.”
So can you help us out? Who is George Smeaton? Are these works in print?
UPDATE: Also in TGE, Sinclair Ferguson writes in the forward: “Smeaton was an outstanding scholar with a brilliant mind and a deep love for Christ. My own conviction is that these two great volumes [on the atonement] should regularly be in the hands of every person who teaches and preaches the gospel of Christ. They are treasure troves” (p. 12).