This article is taken from Evangelical Saints: 47 Biographical Sketches by Ernest Gordon, ed. by Ralph I. Tilley (Sellersburg, IN: LITS Books, 2016), 146-148. It was originally published by Ernest Gordon and titled The Protestant Book of Saints. To order, go to the above menu to “Books.”
WHAT CÉSAR MALAN was to Swiss Protestantism, Adolphe Monod (1802-1856) was to French, the awakener of a Church lying in death-sleep. In 1842 he wrote in vein of irony, “I hope you prefer to be old with Luther, Calvin, Hus, Augustine, Polycarp, and Paul, rather than to be modern with new doctors as Arius and Pelagius.”
The French modernists of a century ago called themselves the jeune école (young school). As those of the present day, they used Evangelical phraseology with unevangelical reservations. Of this distinction between two teachings, one exoteric and the other esoteric, Monod says: “It is an inheritance from a pagan philosophy little in conformity with the spirit of Jesus. A veiled teaching for little ones and an unveiled for the wise, how repugnant to the divine words, ‘Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes.’ ”
Of the denial in Christian pulpits of Christ’s virgin birth, he wrote, “I cannot understand how ________ should ever dream of taking a church when doubting the miraculous birth. In my opinion, nothing remains either of the Son of God or of the gospel without this miracle as the point of departure. The churches which he is called to serve are so founded on this doctrine that it is not logical, I was going to say not honest, to take charge of them when one rejects or even doubts it. The difficulty is not only in the Apostles Creed, though that is quite enough. It is in our hymns, especially our Christmas hymns, in the very essence of the festival, in the church consciousness everywhere.”
Of social service, he says: “We do not say that social service separated from faith has no value whatsoever; we only know that it has no value for salvation or even the true quality of sanctity. These social virtues have their price and even their reward, but in the order of the present century, above which they do not rise. This is the teaching of Christ: ‘They have their reward.’ The world pays for what is done for the world. But God pays only for what is done for God, though, properly speaking, God pays for nothing because He owes nothing, not even to saints, for their sanctity is but a grace received from Him; God crowns in His servants only the gifts which He has made to them.”
Monod was a great Evangelical preacher, a great physician of souls, and a great saint. In his Journal Intime, his Swiss, later contemporary, Henri Amiel gives a picture of one engaged in spiritual conflict without coming to spiritual equipoise. To the end, he wandered in the mists. In Monod’s letters, one finds one who has discovered the clue out of the mists into the sunshine. This clue was persistent prayer.
“I put in my prayers a certain order. For example, prayers relating to the glory of God, the advancement of His kingdom, missions, servants of God, Christian institutions, especially in our country and in our city; then prayers of intercession for my family, for persons especially recommended to my prayers; then prayers for myself as Christian and minister; then prayers of thanksgiving, applications of the verse, ‘My soul, bless thou the Lord and forget not all his benefits.’ Ordinarily, I offer a prayer of thanksgiving once a day, especially when I am low-spirited.”
“There are two ways of praying. One asks and hopes; the other craves and waits until he has obtained. It is just this until that characterizes the latter. One seeks God and finds Him; the other strives with God and triumphs. The first observes scrupulously his daily devotions; the second stays on his knees hours a day through the night. The first fits in with the ordinary course of life; the second watches, fasts, cries, weeps, sweats blood. The first is the beaten path below, winding in the plain; the second is the hard way of the perfect, scaling rock, sounding the depth, grazing the precipice’s edge. The first is the irreproachable method of brother or sister so-and-so; the second is that of Jacob at Peniel, of Moses on Sinai, of Elijah on Carmel, of Jesus in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, on Golgotha. The first we have known since we learned to know the Lord; the second . . . ‘Lord teach us to pray!’ ‘Men ought always to pray and not to faint.’ But how hard, when fainting, to pray!
“I profited by my railway journey to Nimes to pray. I would wish to work less and pray more. But to work, read, write, speak—all this is easier than to pray. May he who changed the water to wine make of a rheumatic, discouraged, uncertain, suffering one all that he ought to be to glorify Him by a faithful testimony.”
Then Monod tells how human water is turned into divine wine. “Pastor Blanc of St. Gilles, dying slowly of cancer which had begun to cut into his tongue, after having made frightful ravages in his body, said to me, “‘Dear brother, I wish to use what remains of my tongue to sing the praises of our Lord.'”