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DR. ACHILLI. * GIACINTO ACHILLI was born in Viterbo in 1803, and educated in the college of Jesuits for a Romish priest. In 1841, becoming “weary of serving in the ministry of the Roman church,” he ceased his connection with it, and in the year following entered the English dominions, residing principally at Malta, until January, 1849, “always occupied with the teaching of sciences and literature, and so a naturalized subject of the government of England, and employed in the Malta College as professor.”
Of the exact circumstances attending his conversion to the Protestant faith we are not informed, though we find him in January, 1843, addressing the late Pope Gregory XVI. in manly and undisguised terms with reference to his change of views.
“Holy Father,” says he, “ if you really fear God, you know sufficiently that he is not to be trifled with—in other words, one cannot lie to him, nor purpose one thing, and say another. Allow me, then, now to summon you into his presence to discuss your faith and my own; for we are both equal before him ; the decalogue and the gospel are equally imposed upon us both. Excepting these, I know no other law to direct me in my belief and in my actions; and my persuasion is, that there should be no other for any one who would call himself a Christian.
“Tell me, I pray you, whence you derive those of your dogmas which exist not in the gospel, and those numerous doctrines which are not to be found in any book of the Scripture? I am entitled to ask you; for after examining your lauded fountains of tradition, your theologians, and the fathers, so dishonestly edited,—I have found superabundant fraud, both in interpretation, assertion, supposition, and inference; for all seems to be concentrated in the object of making the pope universal sovereign, establishing him as head and lord of the entire church, with full and absolute power of loosing and binding—that is, of destroying and building up,-declaring his church, as a spiritual kingdom, superior to every state, to every people, to every dynasty; so that, according to this theory, the power of the pope is made to absorb every other power, from that of God himself, who alone in other times judged men to life or to perdition, down to that of the lowest baron, who can only have from the pope the legitimate power over his vassals.
For this Memoir, we cheerfully acknowledge our obligations to Sir C. E. Eardley's interesting pamphlet, “ The Imprisonment and Deliverance of Dr. Giacinto Achilli.” just published by Partridge and Oakey, which we would earnestly recommend to the perusal of all interested in the great questions it involves,
“Our times are no longer in accordance with the impostures that you sell by means of your monks, who, full of ignorance and superstition, still hawk about the fables of Rome. The world will no longer listen to your universal primacy, because every one knows that this does not extend beyond the two millions and a half of people, which, by the deference of the sovereigns of Europe, it is still permitted you to govern by force of arms. Your indulgences, your relics, are specifics for the soul which are gone out of use. The excise upon sins, which you enforce once a-year to be paid through your privileged exactors, be assured that the generality pay you in false money; inasmuch as now nearly every one comprehends that, however great may be the authority you possess, that power assuredly is wanting to you which is proper to God alone. Still, it is to be bitterly lamented, that a great part of Europe still tolerates that trickery of yours-a spectacle revolting to the good sense, not to say to the religion, of mankind-that a juggler should boast of being able to transform, by virtue of certain words, a portion of bread and wine into Deity. Too great, O Holy Father, too great is the abuse attempted to be practised on your adherents, placing them in the very condition of those who were once taught that gods might be born in a garden. Why so far outrage your friends as to make them afterwards ashamed of themselves when they come to reflect upon the fraud? It makes them hate and curse you when this happens. In these our days, when not even children love to be deceived, men have sufficient self-love sooner to bear blows than to be treated with fraud and delusion."
During an early period of his connexion with Malta he visited England, and was instrumental in collecting funds towards the establishment of the Protestant College in that island. In the summer of 1848 he was again here, having become a member of the Evangelical Alliance, and was naturally anxious to give his personal countenance and support to that admirable institution.
The prostration of religious tyranny in the Roman states towards the end of 1848, seemed to Dr. Achilli a call in Providence to return thither. He accordingly left England in the second week of January, 1849, and reached Rome on the second day of the month following.
Before he had been there a week we find him writing home to his dear friend, Sir Culling Eardley Eardley, in most encouraging terms, which sufficiently evince the soundness of his protestantism, and the simplicity and godly sincerity in which he labored for the gospel.
“I cannot tell you how much consolation I have already received from meeting several persons, who, having been informed of my change, ask me questions on religion, being desirous of knowing which is the true religion of Christ, and which is that invented by the Popes. Imagine how my heart exults in seeing that field opened to me for evangelization, where before I myself falsified the language of truth. Our discussions, therefore, on the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures are most interesting :—The faith which saves us without any merit of our own works ; the Spirit which regenerates us without need of sacraments ; the true worship by which God will be honored by us; are all truths which find access to their hearts. I take occasion to speak of these things in every place, with every one I find among the populace ; but I speak separately to the priests, that they may not be offended by hearing their faults reproved in the presence of the laity. I have already entered several convents, and there fulfilled my mission, by carrying with me the seed of the Word of God, which he will make to spring up, grow, and bear fruit. The day before yesterday I was in the midst of three ‘Penitentiary' Theologians (who have the power of absolving those sins which are reserved for the pope,) two of whom had been my masters of the ology ; aud I made before them my profession of faith, declaring myself a Christian according to the Bible, and summarily confuting all the errors of popery. I surprised one of them—a great friend of mine-in his own confessional, and there began our discussion, which was afterwards continued with the others in the college of the *Penitentiary.' I shall have these opportunities every day, without seeking them (I will certainly lose none,) to render testimony to my Lord, whom I have served, and will serve as long as I live.”
A second letter to Mr. Tonna, dated 13th March, states—“In a month Diodati's New Testament will be published in such abundance as to be circulated in every village of the Republic. It is in this manner that the Lord announces his entry here, where, till now, his greatest adversary has reigned. The Bibles that I brought with me from Leghorn are already, for the most part, distributed, and no day passes in which some persons do not come to me for them. While I am writing these words, two Franciscan friars enter my room to ask for a Bible which I promised them yesterday. We spoke together on those words of St. Paul, that • Christ is made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.' The good friars have promised me to read every day a chapter of Holy Scripture with thanksgiving and prayer.
“Every morning when I leave the house, I take with me a New Testament, and till now it has never happened that I have brought it
back again. Some of those to whom I have given it, carry it about with them to read with their friends, and on each verse they make their reflections. I have more than once myself seen these little religious meetings ; and a friend of mine told me that he was present in a tobacco-shop, while this exercise was held about a chapter in the Gospel, and one of those present said, “Is this really the Word of Christ? Then why do they prohibit our reading it? That we may not know their errors?' Another, to whom I gave the New Testament some time ago, told me yesterday, that he reads a chapter every day with his family, and that he thinks this is the true mass, to which we should listen every day.
“ The Bible also begins to be read in Rome in the convents, in the monasteries, in families, in shops; and I hope also to see it read in the streets. I have promised to send many copies of the New Testament now being printed, to the Popular Club (“Circolo Popolare,') and am certain that many wish to possess it. Meanwhile, we accompany this work of God with our suggestions and instructions."
Amongst other powerful agencies employed by Dr. Achilli for the propagation of the truth, the publication of fly-sheets, tracts, and posters occupied no inconsiderable position. It was intended to print also a religious newspaper, but before the funds necessary for that work could be sent out, the disturbances attendant on the uncalled for and paradoxical interference of France had commenced. The praiseworthy labors of our missionary were however carried on unceasingly, and with admirable prudence, the doctor taking special care not to mix himself up with political affairs, as if forewarned of the accusations his enemies were about to bring against him.
The Freneh arms, as is well-known, were ultimately disgraced by a victory that brought shame into every honest face ; and popery was again established by a people who had made “Civil and Religious Liberty," their blatant watchword.
Dr. Achilli was arrested on the 29th July, 1849, and thrown into the dungeon of the Inquisition. The Committees for the Religious Improvement of Italy, in London, and of the Evangelical Alliance in Paris, moved simultaneously in their attempts to effect his liberation.
A memorial to the French Government was instantly drawn up, and the President of the Council promptly replied that they were sending out instructions not to permit religious persecution in Rome. This was on the 25th August, and its sincerity may be tested by the fact that nearly five months were suffered to go by before the liberation of this unoffending and much injured man!
Earnest, protracted, and unwearied were the exertions of our countrymen to effect this object ; and whatever may be due to other individuals, or other governments, it is not too much to affirm, that without our interference his liberation would never have taken place.
The circumstances attending this event are highly characteristic, and full of the deepest interest. We shall give them in the words of the prisoner himself. During his captivity, the agents of the Papacy had busily plied him with arguments and invitations to abjure protestantism, and return to the bosom of the Catholic church. Amongst the most active of these was Dr. Theiner, professor of ecclesiastical history in the college of the propaganda. In the middle of his third visit, “in the full fervor of our controversies,” says the doctor, “ the Captain of the Castle came to inform me that two Chasseurs de Vincennes were arrived, to take me to the French Council of War, to give evidence in the cause of Signor Cernuschi, deputy of the people under the republic. I was not more surprised than my theologian, who was even more unable than myself to comprehend how I, separated from the rest of the world by virtue of the laws of the inquisition, could be summoned before a military tribunal by a foreign authority. The captain added, that there was the permission of the cardinal vicar. “Let us go in the name of the Lord,' was my thought. The Padre Theiner accompanied me to the carriage, in which two soldiers armed with carbines sat by my side. The tribunal is held at the Ecclesiastical Academy, in the Piazza di Minerva. The Capitaine Rapporteur was alone. He put a few questions to me about the person of Cernuschi, and said some other things to me. He then remanded me to the castle.
“ The next day, the 19th January, my theologian visited me again, and plied me with vehement arguments, which I answered with arguments still more vehement. Our subject was the bishopric of St. Peter at Rome, and the privilege of succession bequeathed to the popes ; Dr. Theiner all intent on demonstrating, and I on confuting, it. In the midst of the discussion, which had lasted some time (it now being nearly dark,) my gaoler came to tell me that the two Chasseurs were come back to take me to the Military Commission. Farewell! Padre Theiner. Offer my respects to the Cardinal Vicar, and thank him in my name for your visits, which have given me real pleasure; I hope that both of us may derive profit from them, to confirm us more and more in the Word of God! Having said this, I pressed his hand and got into the carriage between the two soldiers. This time the carriage was an open one, and, traversing the long