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Light In The Dark Places by Augustus Neander


ABOUT the same time that Cæsarius was thus labouring in France, Epiphanius, Bishop of Pavia, was labouring in a like spirit in Italy. He also was a blessing for his land, convulsed by the disturbances of war, and deluged by one barbarous tribe after another. Amidst the strife of hostile tribes, he gained equal confidence and equal respect from the leaders of the adverse parties, and shed benefits alike on friend and foe. When the wild hosts of Odoacer were destroying and plundering Pavia, in 476, Epiphanius alone was able to overcome the rage of the barbarians and deliver many of his unfortunate countrymen. By him the restoration and re-population of the ruined city was effected. In reliance on God, he undertook the re-construction of a church which had been reduced to ashes, although he had no means of paying the expenses. He used to say, that the rich soul (he meant that which possessed the true and inward wealth of faith) could never lack means; whilst, on the other hand, it was the hardest thing in the world for a man who was poor in soul, ever to have enough. Although he was in spirit dead to the world, and lived in constant reference to eternity, he nevertheless took a lively interest in earthly affairs, from love to his brethren. He sacrificed his repose; he appeared at the camps and courts of princes; undertook dangerous and wearisome journeys, on which he denied himself every convenience, and bore all kinds of privations, in order to obtain from the princes of the dominant tribes, peace, an alleviation of public burdens, and liberty for the captives. A journey which he undertook to the came of king Theodore, in his fifty-eighth year (A. D.497), in the severest season, under many inconveniences, in order to promote some object of this kind, appears to have caused his death. He returned to Pavia in ill health, and although the joy of meeting his Church again, after having obtained for them the desired help, made him forget his sickness for a time, it overcame him at last. As those words which he often repeated, |For me to live is Christ and to die is gain,| had been the watchword of his life; so, when he felt the near approach of death, he said with a calm cheerfulness, (Ps. xxxix, 1:) |I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever , with my mouth will I make known His faithfulness to all generations;| and, |Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit;| |My heart is joyful in the Lord, my horn is exalted in the Lord, because I rejoice in thy salvation.| 2 Sam. i, 1. And thus, singing psalms of thanksgiving, he left this world.
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