The New Zealand Evangelist
Italy.—A Converted Priest
Italy.—A Converted Priest.
Extract of a letter from the Rev. Mr. Stewart, Missionary from the Free Church of Scotland in Leghorn, dated May last.
Here we have had an opportunity lately of testing our Tuscan constitution. Dr. Desanctis, a converted priest of Rome, now residing with Dr. Achilli at Malta, came here on a mission about the beginning of April, ready and willing to preach the Gospel wherever an opportunity might offer. I knew him well by character, and resolved that the opportunity should not be wanting. I asked him to preach to my own congregation in Italian (he can't speak English) on the Sabbath evening of our Sacrament; and he did so to our great delight. He is a most eloquent, able, and faithful minister; and we had the joy of feeling that the Lord had made use of a mission station of the Free Church of Scotland, that in its church the Gospel might be proclaimed by an Italian priest, in his own language, to many of his own countrymen, for the first time for upwards of two centuries since the light of the Reformation was extinguished by fire and sword. This is surely an answer to our page 186 prayers, and I trust it will excite in the Church at home a deeper interest both in this station, and in this country panting for regeneration.
A deputation of the young men of the congregation were deighted; they begged him to preach again, which he did on a week evening, as faithfully, but a little less guardedly, than before. On the first occasion about twenty, on the second about 80, Italians were present. Some were much pleused, others were very angry as his subject condemned their innumerable mediators, with the Madonna at their head. The priests got greatly excited about it, and actually proposed publishing a handbill, exhorting the people to drive him out of the city. They summoned our beadle (an Italian) before them, to give a full account of all that had gone on; but we have not been troubled about it. Indeed, I took special care to ask him to preach to my own congregation, that I might be able to declare this to the authorities, if called in question; and I am not bound to turn Italians out of our church, if they choose to come there. Another Sabbath he spent in Lucca, and preached twice there to about twenty people; after which he went to Florence, and preached in the Swiss church, and administered the sacrament. He left this on his way to Malta last week; and his visit, while it has done good in the way of confirming inquirers, and stirring up others to think, has been of especial benefit as showing that personal liberty at least is secured under the new constitution.