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Choice Gleanings


January 2013

  from Adolphe Monod

Adolphe Monod (1802-56) has been described as ‘twice over the first of the Protestant preachers in France, first for the excellence of his oratorical genius, and then for the holiness of his life’.  His Farewell exhortations hold a special place in evangelical literature, delivered as they were ‘under the shadow of eternity’. The following comes from this volume, and is entitled On reading the Bible.

During one of my nights of much suffering and little sleep, about half past four in the morning, I had settled down in my bed hoping to get some sleep. I asked my companion - one of those good young people who kindly dedicate part of their strength to me – to read a chapter of the Word of God to me. He suggested reading the eighth chapter of Romans. I agreed, but asked him to go back to the sixth or even the fifth chapter to catch the sequence of ideas. We read straight off, those four chapters, five, six, seven, eight, and I could no longer ever think of sleeping, so much was my attention, my interest, my admiration arrested by the heavenly language of St Paul, or rather I should say the Holy Spirit speaking through St Paul. Then we read the following chapters right to the end, still with sustained, consistent interest. Then we read the first four chapters so that we should not lose anything, and thus read the entire epistle. About two hours had gone by in this reading, and I was thinking of nothing save hearing the Word of God and profiting by it: and the Lord in His goodness compensated me for the sleep which I had lost. But I could not tell you how much I was struck in this reading of the Epistle to the Romans in its entirety by a hidden store of divinity, truth, holiness, love and power which is laid up, imprinted on every page and in every word. My young friend and I felt, without at first sharing our thoughts, that we were listening to a voice from Heaven; and that, independently of all the testimony which witnesses to the divine inspiration and authority of the Scripture, it gave its own full and sufficient testimony to itself, as Jesus did to Himself, by His works. We felt also how useful it is to read Scripture as a whole and how much one loses in only taking from it detached portions, fragments or verses. You cannot understand a book without from time to time reading it as a whole.

Two methods of studying the Word of God are hereby implied: one, studying it as a whole, to produce the impression so full of blessing which we had just received: the other, studying it in detail to take due note of every verse and every word. But the principal impression was one of humiliation. We said one to another: What! We have such a treasure store as this near at hand, and we neglect to dip into it. We had just spent two hours in Heaven and found ourselves transported not only into the company of the best of men, the privileged, inspired instruments of the Holy Spirit, but also of the elect angels, and in the fellowship of Jesus Christ. Therefore, placing this resolution in the care of Him who alone can safeguard the resolutions of His children, we determined to give ourselves, with an entirely new ardour, to the study of the Scripture; to sacrifice if necessary the reading of a whole pile of books which, while quite useful and instructive, do not compare with the Word of God; and to live with His Word as we wish to live with God Himself, because reading His Word, inspired by the Spirit of God, is like holding a conversation with God. I do commend to you, my dear friends, the Word of God for your constant study and deep meditation. It will make us stand out above all others; it will be the strength of our life, the joy of our heart, and our strong consolation in life and in death through Jesus Christ. I ask this for you, as for myself. Amen.