תמונות בעמוד

moment the ruler ceases to be a minister of God for good, and does not administer a government that is beneficial to the people, he forfeits the title by which he holds the throne, and perseverance in oppression will surely lead to his overthrow. Mencius inculcated this principle with a frequency and boldness which are remarkable. It was one of the things about which Confucius did not like to talk. Still he held it. It is conspicuous in the last chapter of “The Great Learning.” Its tendency has been to check the violence of oppression, and to maintain the selfrespect of the people, all along the course of Chinese history. I must bring these observations on Confucius’ views of government to a close, and I do so with two remarks. First, they are adapted to a primitive, unsophisticated state of society. He is a good counsellor for the father of a family, the chief of a clan, and even the head of a small principality. But his views want the comprehension which would make them of much service in a great empire. Within three centuries after his death, the government of China passed into a new, phase. The founder of the Ts’in dynasty conceived the grand idea of abolishing all its feudal Kingdoms, and centralizing their administration in himself. He effected the revolution, and succeeding dynasties adopted his system, and gradually moulded it into the forms and proportions which are now existing. There has been a tendency to advance, and Confucius has all along been trying to carry the nation back. Principles have been needed, and not “proprieties.” The consequence is that China has increased beyond its ancient dimensions, while there has been no corresponding development of thought. Its body politic has the size of a giant, while it still retains the mind of a child. Its hoary age is but semility. Second, Confucius makes no provision for the intercourse of his country with other and independent nations. He knew indeed of none such. China was to him “The middle Ringdom,” “The multitude of Great States,” “All under heaven.” Beyond it were only rude and barbarous tribes. He does not speak of them bitterly, as many Chinese have done since his time. In one place he contrasts them favourably with the prevailing anarchy of the empire, saying, “The rude tribes of the east and north have their princes, and are not like the States of our great land which are without them.” ". Another time, disgusted with the want of appreciation which he experienced, he was expressing his intention to go and live among the nine wild tribes of the east. Some one said, “They are rude. How can you do such a thing ** His reply was, “If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness would there be *** But had he been an emperor-sage, he would not only have influenced them by his instructions, but brought them to acknowledge and submit to his sway, as the great Yu did. The only passage of Confucius’ teachings from which any rule can be gathered for dealing with foreigners, is that in the “ Doctrime of the Mean,” where “indulgent treatment of men from a distance ’’ is laid down as one of the nine standard rules for the government of the empire. But “the men from a distance ’’ are understood to be pin and leu simply,– “guests,” that is, or officers of one State seeking employment in another, or at the imperial court; and “visitors,” or tra. velling merchants. Of independent nations the ancient classics have not any knowledge, nor has Confucius. So long as merchants from Europe and other parts of the world could have been content to appear in China as suppliants, seeking the privilege of trade, so long the government would have ranked them with the barbarous hordes of antiquity, and given them the benefit of the maxim about “indulgent treatment,” according to its own understanding of it. But when their governments interfered, and claimed to treat with that of China on terms of equality, and that their subjects should be spoken to and of as being of the same clay with the Chinese themselves, an outrage was committed on tradition and prejudice, which it was necessary to resent with vehemence. I do not charge the contemptuous arrogance of the Chinese government and people upon Confucius; what I deplore is, that he left no principles on record to check the development of such a spirit. His simple views of society and government were in a measure sufficient for the people, while they dwelt apart from the rest of mankind. . His practical lessons were better than if they had been left, which but for him they probably would have been, to fall a prey to the influences of Taouism and Buddhism; but they could only subsist while they were left alone. Of the earth earthy, China was sure to go to pieces when it came into collision with a Christianly-civilized power. Its sage had left it no preservative or restorative elements against such a case. It is a rude awakening from its complacency of centuries which China has now received. Its ancient landmarks are swept away. Opinions will differ as to the justice or injustice of the grounds on which it has been assailed, and I do not feel called to judge or to pronounce here concerning them. In the progress of events, it could not be but that the collision should come ; and when it did come, it could not be but that China should be broken and scattered. Disorganization will go on to destroy it more and more, and yet there is hope for the people, with their veneration of the relations of society, with their devotion to learning, and with their habits of industry and sobriety;-there is hope for them, if they will look away from all their ancient sages, and turn to Him, who sends them, along with the dissolution of their ancient state, the knowledge of Himself, the only living and true God, and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. 8. I have little more to add on the opinions of Confucius. Many of his sayings are pithy, and display much knowledge of character; but as they are contained in the body of the Work, I will not occupy the space here with a selection of those which have struck myself as most worthy of notice. The fourth Book of the Analects, which is on the subject of jin, or perfect virtue, has several utterances which are remarkable. Thornton observes —“It may excite surprise, and probably incredulity, to state that the golden rule of our Saviour, “Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you,” which Mr Locke designates as ‘the most unshaken rule of morality, and foundation of all social virtue,” had been inculcated by Confucius, almost in the same words, four centuries before.”* I have taken notice of this fact in reviewing both “The Great Learning,” and “The Doctrine of the Mean,” and would be far from grudging a tribute of admiration to Confucius for it. The maxim occurs also twice in the Analects. In Book XV. xxiii., Tsze-kung asks if there be one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life, and is answered, “Is not reciprocity such a word : What you do not want done to yourself do not do to others.” The same disciple appears in Book V. xi., telling Confucius that he was practising the lesson. He says, “What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do to men; ” but the master tells him, “Ts'ze, you have not attained to that.” It would appear from this reply, that he was aware of the difficulty of obeying the precept ; and it is not found, in its condensed expression at least, in the older classics. The merit of it is Confucius’ own. When a comparison, however, is drawn between it and the rule laid down by Christ, it is proper to call attention to the positive form of the latter, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.” The lesson of the gospel commands men to do what they feel to be right and good. It requires them to commence a course of such conduct, without regard to the conduct of others to themselves. The lesson of Confucius only forbids men to do what they feel to be wrong and hurtful. So far as the point of priority is concerned, moreover, Christ adds, “This is the law and the prophets.” The maxim was to be found substantially in the earlier revelations of God. But the worth of the two maxims depends on the intention of the enunciators in regard to their application. Confucius, it seems to me, did not think of the reciprocity coming into action beyond the circle of his five relations of society. Possibly, he might have required its observance in dealings even with the rude tribes, which were the only specimens of mankind besides his own countrymen of which he knew anything, for on one occasion, when asked about perfect virtue, he replied, “It is, in retirement, to be sedately grave; in the management of business, to be reverently attentive; in intercourse with others, to be strictly sincere. Though a man go among the rude uncultivated tribes, these qualities may not be neglected.”" Still, Confucius delivered his rule to his countrymen only, and only for their guidance in their relations of which I have had so much occasion to speak. The rule of Christ is for man as man, having to do with other men, all with himself on the same platform, as the children and subjects of the one God and Father in heaven. How far short Confucius came of the standard of Christian benevolence, may be seen from his remarks when asked what was to be thought of the principle that injury should be recompensed with kindness. He replied, “With what then will you recompense kindness : Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.”" The same deliverance is given in one of the Books of the Le Ke, where he adds that “ He who recompenses injury with kindness is a man who is careful of his person.” Choing Heuen, the commentator of the second century, says that such a course would be “incorrect in point of propriety.” This “propriety” was a great stumbling-block in the way of Confucius. His morality was the result of the balancings of his intellect, fettered by the decisions of men of old, and not the gushings of a loving heart, responsive to the promptings of Heaven, and in sympathy with erring and feeble humanity. This subject leads me on to the last of the opinions of Confucius which I shall make the subject of remark in this place. A commentator observes, with reference to the inquiry about recompensing injury with kindness, that the questioner was asking only about trivial matters, which might be dealt with in the way he mentioned, while great offences, such as those against a sovereign or a father, could not be dealt with by such an inversion of the principles of justice. In the second Book of the Le Ke there is the following passage :-‘‘ With the slayer of his father, a man may not live under the same heaven ; against the slayer of his brother, a man must never have to go home to fetch a weapon; with the slayer of his friend, a man may not live in the same State.” The lea, talionis is here laid down in its fullest extent. The Chow Le tells us of a provision made against the evil consequences of the prin

l Ana. III. v. 2 Ana. TX. xiii.

* History of China, vol. i. p. 209.

1 Analects, XIII. xix.

! Ana, XXV. xxxvi. WOL. I. 8

« הקודםהמשך »