The Kingdom Of Congo And The Roman Catholic Missionaries -- By: John Leighton Wilson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 009:33 (Jan 1852)
Article: The Kingdom Of Congo And The Roman Catholic Missionaries
Author: John Leighton Wilson


The Kingdom Of Congo And The Roman Catholic Missionaries

Rev. John Leighton Wilson

No part of Western Africa is so well known to history as the kingdom of Congo. For this distinction, however, it is not so much indebted to any importance which it ever possessed itself, as to other causes of an incidental nature. It borders upon, and has given its name to, one of the finest rivers on the continent of Africa, and is therefore somewhat known merely from its geographical position. And the circumstance that has contributed to its notoriety, but not to its honor as a nation, is the fact, that from the earliest period of its discovery by the Portuguese up to the present moment, it has always borne the lead in the foreign slave trade, and in all probability, has furnished a larger number of victims for the markets of the new world than any other region of Africa whatever. Congos or their descendants may still be identified in many parts of the United States, throughout the West India islands, and in large numbers in Brazil, where they have not yet laid aside their vernacular tongue.

But the circumstance which, above all others, has contributed to give it interest in the eyes of the civilized world, is the fact that it has been the stage upon which has been achieved one of the most successful experiments ever made by the church of Rome, to reclaim a pagan people from idolatry. For more than two centuries, the kingdom of Congo, according to the showing of the missionaries them-

selves, was as completely under the influence of Rome, as any sister kingdom in Europe; so that if the inhabitants of that country are not now, in point of civilization and Christianity, what Rome would have them to be, or all that a pagan people are capable of being made under her training, the fault lies at her own door. In relation to the missions which she planted about the same time in India, China and other parts of the world, it has been alleged with some degree of justice, that her designs were thwarted in consequence of political changes in Europe, which placed protestant nations in the ascendant, and gave them a preponderant influence in those countries where her missions had been established. With no less justice it has been urged, that the failure of her efforts among the Indian tribes, both of North and South America, ought to be ascribed to the fact that these tribes have been overshadowed and borne down by the presence of more powerful races, without allowing sufficient time for the full development of her peculiar principles. But whether these things can be regarded as satisfactory explanations of the causes of failure in other parts of the world or not, nothing of the kind can be urged in relation to her missions in Congo. Here she has ...

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