« הקודםהמשך »
and are not like the States of our great land which are without them." 1 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 1" s But had he been au 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 "Doctrine 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 travellingmerchants. 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."1 I have taken notice of this fact in reviewing both " The Great Learning," and "The Doctrine of the Mean," and would be far from
History of China, vol. i. p. 209.
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 Con fucius' 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."1 1 Analects, XIII. xix.
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." 1 The same deliverance is given in one of the Books of the Le Ke, where he adds that " He who recompense injury with kindness is a man who is careful of his person." Ch'ing 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 lex 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
ciple, by the appointment of a minister called "The Reconciler." The provision is very inferior to the cities of refuge which were set apart by Moses for the manslayer to flee to from the fury of the avenger. Such as it was, however, it existed, and it is remarkable that Confucius, when consulted on the subject, took no notice of it, but affirmed the duty of blood-revenge in the strongest and most unrestricted terms. His disciple Tsze-hea asked him, "What course is to.be pursued in the case of the murder of a father or mother?" He replied, "The son must sleep upon a matting of grass, with his shield for his pillow; he must decline to take office; he must not live under the same heaven with the slayer. When he meets him in the market-place or the court, he must have his weapon ready to strike him." "And what is the course on the murder of a brother?" "The surviving brother must not take office in the same State with the slayer; yet if he go on his prince's service to the State where the slayer is, though he meet him, he must not fight with him." "And what is the course on the murder of an uncle or a cousin?" "In this case the nephew or cousin is not the principal. If the principal on whom the revenge devolves can take it, he has only to stand behind with his weapon in.his hand, and support him."
Sir John Davis has rightly called attention to this as one of the objectionable principles of Confucius.1 The bad effects of it are evident even in the present day. Revenge is sweet to the Chinese. I have spoken of their readiness to submit to government, and wish to live in peace, yet they do not like to resign even to government the " inquisition for blood." Where the ruling authority is feeble, as it is at present, individuals and clans take the law into their own hands, and whole districts are kept in a state of constant feud and warfare.
But I must now leave the sage. I hope I have not done him injustice j but after long study of his character and opinions, I am unable to regard him as a great man. He was not before his age, though he was above the mass of the officers and scholars of his time. He threw no new light on any of the questions which have a world-wide
1 The Chinese, vol, II. p. 41.