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Light In The Dark Places by Augustus Neander

GALLUS, APOSTLE OF SWITZERLAND.

AMONGST the disciples whom Columban brought with him from Ireland to France, one of the most distinguished was Gallus. He was of a noble Irish family, and was early intrusted by his pious parents to Columban, to be trained for the service of the kingdom of God. Columban, who, as we observed above, was a zealous student of the Scriptures, had implanted a deep love for them in the youth's breast. He spoke from the Scriptures with simplicity and affection, pressing the words home to men's hearts. When Columban with his friends met with a hospitable reception from pious men, and after having laid aside his travelling clothes, wished to have something read aloud out of the Scriptures, it was his favourite pupil Gallus who was desired to do it, and who, after reading, had to unfold the meaning of the passage. When they settled near the ruins of the old castle of Brienz, they stumbled on an old fallen chapel, which they resolved to consecrate to the Christian worship, and around which they built their cells. But in this chapel they found three gilded idols, which the heathen natives revered as guardian deities. As Gallus, during his residence in the Frankish empire, had made himself well acquainted with the German language, Columban desired him to preach the Gospel to the multitudes who flocked together to see the solemn consecration. It is, indeed, a true saying of Luther's: |It is God's work alone to banish idols from the hearts of men. What is done from without is mere puppet-play. If some of their idols are taken from men, they will make themselves others yet worse. But if the preaching of Divine grace prepare the way to the heart, it may be an additional help if the sensible image to which the idolatrous worship attaches itself, is also removed from the eyes.| Thus Gallus may have confirmed the impression produced by his sermon, by courageously dashing the idols in pieces, as he did before the eyes of the wild heathen multitude, and may thus have proved to them by ocular demonstration, the nothingness and powerlessness of their idols.

The monks then proceeded to busy themselves in cultivating their garden, and planting fruit-trees. Gallus wove nets, and carried on a fishery. He was so successful in this, that he not only provided the rest of the monks with fish, but also was able to entertain strangers, and often to make presents to the people. When they were driven out of that neighbourhood, and Abbot Columban turned his steps to Italy, Gallus was prevented by sickness from following him: and this circumstance was productive of much blessing to the tribes of that district: since, but for this illness, Gallus would never have become what he did for the country. Gallus repaired with his fishing nets to a priest called Willimar, who lived in an old castle, and who had once already entertained him with the abbot Columban, and pointed out a residence for them. When, by his affectionate care, Gallus had recovered, he wished to find a place in the wilderness to build in. With this object, he addressed himself to the deacon Hillibald, whose business it was to provide his convent with fish and game, and who had therefore often traversed the wilderness, and knew its paths well. Attended by him, he set out to seek a place adapted for building, and well provided with fresh water. The deacon gave him a terrific description of the wild beasts in the forest: but Gallus answered, |It is the saying of the Apostle -- If God be for us, who can be against us? and, all things work together for good to those who love God. He who delivered Daniel from the den of lions, can also deliver me from the power of the wild beasts.| Then the deacon said: |Only put some bread and a small net in thy knapsack, and to-morrow I will guide thee into the wilderness. The God who has brought thee to us from the far country, will send his angel with us, as once with his servant Tobias, and will show us a place suitable to thy pious work.| Armed by prayer, Gallus set out on his journey. When they had journeyed about three hours, Hillibald said: |Let us now take some bread and water, that we may be strengthened to go the rest of the way.| Gallus answered: |My son, do thou what is needful to strengthen thee; I am resolved to taste nothing until God has shown me my desired place of rest.| But the deacon replied: |Nay, we will share the inconvenience, and then also the joy, with one another.| Then they pursued their way until the evening, when they came to a stream full of fish, which precipitated itself from a rock. They succeeded in catching many fish; the deacon lighted a fire; he cooked the fish, and took bread from the knapsack. Gallus meanwhile went a little apart to pray; but he entangled himself in the bushes, and fell. The deacon hastened forward to help him; but Gallus motioned him back, saying, |Leave me; this is appointed for my resting-place throughout my life -- here will I dwell.| He consecrated the place by prayer; and when he arose from his knees, he made a cross out of the branch of a tree, and planted it in the ground; and on the cross he hung some relics, which he carried in a basket round his neck. Then, again, they both fell on their knees in prayer, and there they founded the convent which afterwards went by the name of St. Gall. There Gallus laboured in the education of youth, and in the training of monks and priests, by whom the seeds of Christian knowledge were further spread; and thence he diffused many spiritual and temporal blessings among the people. When he received presents from the great men of the country, he used to assemble the poor of the district, and distribute what he had received amongst them. On one of these occasions, one of his scholars said to him: |My father, I have a costly silver vessel, beautifully embossed; if you will permit me, I will keep it for a sacramental chalice.| But Gallus answered: |My son, think on the word of Peter, Gold and silver have I none,' and in order not to do anything contrary to so wholesome an example, hasten to employ the vessel for the good of the poor. My teacher Columban used to distribute the body of the Lord in vessels of common metal.|

The vacant see of Constance was offered to Gallus; but he preferred to continue his quiet labours in the convent, and refused the office. He recommended for the office, in his stead, the deacon John, a native of the country, who had studied the Holy Scriptures under his guidance. When, at the consecration of the bishop, a great multitude flocked together, Gallus availed himself of this opportunity, in order to describe to the new converts the love of God as manifested in Creation and Redemption, and to lay before them the great scheme of God for the salvation of men. He ascended the pulpit with his disciple John, and what he said in the Latin language, was interpreted by John into German, for the assembled multitude. Of the Creation, he said: |God created beings endowed with reason to praise Him; and by Him, in Him, and through Him, to live happily. This cause of your creation, ye should recognise, my Christian brethren, lest ye should have to regard yourselves as lost beings, destroying your dignity by a brutish life. For that God, who is the highest good, resolved to create beings in His own image, endowed with reason, that, acknowledging Him as their Lord, and the Author of their existence, and filled with His love, they should rejoice to find their happiness in Him.|

Then he deduces the origin of all evil, from the desire of reasonable beings, to be the basis of their own existence, and to find life and happiness in themselves; thence arose their inward void, inasmuch as the creature, if turned away from the fountain of life, and abandoned to itself, must sink from fulness into emptiness, from existence to nothingness. He closed the whole discourse with this exhortation: |We, who are the unworthy messengers of the faith in this age, conjure you, in the name of Christ, that ye ever renounce the devil and all his works, as ye have once renounced him in your baptism; that ye acknowledge the one true God and Father, who ruleth eternally in heaven -- the Eternal Wisdom, who for us became a man in time -- and the Holy Ghost, the earnest of eternal bliss granted us on this pilgrimage; and that ye seek to live as becomes the children of God. Be ye kind to one another, forgiving one another, as God has forgiven you your sins. The Almighty God, who wills that all men should be saved, and should come to a knowledge of the truth, -- who sends this message to your ears by the ministry of my tongue, -- may He Himself cause it to bring forth fruit in your hearts by His grace!|

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