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ruler there are many also of universal application, but the mingling of them perplexes the mind. It tells us of “the five duties of universal application,”-those between sovereign and minister, husband and wife, father and son, elder and younger brother, and friends; of "the three virtues by which those duties are carried into effect," namely, knowledge, benevolence, and energy; and of "the one thing, by which those virtues are practised,” which is singleness or sincerity. It sets forth in detail the nine standard rules for the administration of government,” which are “the cultivation by the ruler of his own character; the honouring men of virtue and talents; affection to his relatives; respect towards the great ministers; kind and considerate treatment of the whole body of officers ; cherishing the mass of the people as children ; encouraging all classes of artizans; indulgent treatment of men from a distance; and the kindly cherishing of the princes of the States.". There are these and other equally interesting topics in this chapter; but, as they are in the Work, they distract the mind, instead of making the author's great object more clear to it, and I will not say more upon them here.
6. Doubtless it was the mention of "singleness," or “sincerity,” in the 20th chapter, which made Tsze-sze introduce it into this Treatise, for from those terms he is able to go on to develope what he intended in saying, that “if the states of Equilibrium and Harmony exist in perfection, a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.” It is here, that now we are astonished at the audacity of the writer's assertions, and now lost in vain endeavours to ascertain his meaning. I have quoted the words of Confucius that it is "singleness," by which the three virtues of knowledge, benevolence, and energy are able to carry into practice the duties of universal obligation. He says also that it is this same “singleness” by which “the nine standard rules of government” can be effectively carried out. This
singleness” is just a name for “the states of Equilibrium and Harmony existing in perfection.” It denotes a character absolutely and relatively good, wanting nothing in itself, and correct in all its outgoings. “Sincerity” is another term for the same thing, and in speaking about it, Confucius makes a distinction between sincerity absolute and sincerity
" He who pos
acquired. The former is born with some, and practised by them without any effort; the latter is attained by study and practised by strong endeavour. The former is "the
of Heaven ;” the latter is “the way of men.” sesses sincerity,”-absolutely, that is,—“is he who without effort hits what is right, and apprehends without the exercise of thought ;-he is the sage who naturally and easily embodies the right way. He who attains to sincerity is he who chooses what is good, and firmly holds it fast. And to this attainment there are requisite the extensive study of what is good, accurate inquiry about it, careful reflection on it, the clear discrimination of it, and the earnest practice of it.” In these passages Confucius unhesitatingly enunciates his belief that there are some men who are absolutely perfect, who come into the world as we may conceive the first man was, when he was created by God" in His own image,” full of knowledge and righteousness, and who grow up as we know that Christ did, “increasing in wisdom and in stature." He disclaimed being considered to be such an one himself,1 but the sages of China were such. And, moreover, others who are not so naturally may make themselves to become so. Some will have to put forth more effort and to contend with greater struggles, but the end will be the possession of the knowledge and the achievement of the practice.
I need not say that these sentiments are contrary to the views of human nature which are presented in the Bible. The testimony of Revelation is that “there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not." that we have no sin,” and in writing this term, I am thinking here not of sin against God, but, if we can conceive of it apart from that, of failures in regard to what ought to be in our regulation of ourselves, and in our behaviour to others “if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." This language is appropriate in the lips of the learned as well as in those of the ignorant, to the highest sage as to the lowest child of the
Neither the Scriptures of God nor the experience of man know of individuals absolutely perfect. The other sentiment that men can make themselves perfect is equally wide of the truth. Intelligence and goodness by no means
66 If we say
1 Ana. VII. xix,
stand to each other in the relation of cause and effect. The sayings of Ovid, “Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor," “Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata," are a more correct expression of the facts of human consciousness and conduct than the high-flown phrases of Confucius.
7. But Tsze-sze adopts the dicta of his grandfather without questioning them, and gives them forth in his own style at the commencement of the fourth part of his Treatise. “When we have intelligence resulting from sincerity, this condition is to be ascribed to nature; when we have sincerity resulting from intelligence, this condition is to be ascribed to instruction. But given the sincerity, and there shall be the intelligence; given the intelligence, and there shall be the sincerity.'
Tsze-sze does more than adopt the dicta of Confucius. He applies them in a way which the sage never did, and which he would probably have shrunk from doing. The sincere, or perfect man of Confucius is he who satisfies completely all the requirements of duty in the various relations of society, and in the exercise of government; but the sincere man of Tsze-sze is a potency in the universe. to give its full development to his own nature, he can do the same to the nature of other men. Able to give its full development to the nature of other men, he can give their full development to the natures of animals and things. Able to give their full development to the natures of creatures and things, he can assist the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth. Able to assist the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth, he may with Heaven and Earth form a ternion.” Such are the results of sincerity natural. The case below this--of sincerity acquired, is as follows,-“The individual cultivates its shoots. From these he can attain to the possession of sincerity. This sincerity becomes apparent. From being apparent, it becomes manifest. From being manifest, it becomes brilliant. Brilliant, it affects others. Affecting others, they are changed by it. Changed by it, they are transformed. It is only he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that can exist under heaven, who can transform.” It may safely be affirmed, that when he thus expressed himself, Tsze-sze understood neither what he said nor whereof he affirmed. Maou Se-ho and some other modern writers ex
plain away many of his predicates of sincerity, so that in their hands they become nothing but extravagant hyperboles, but the author himself would, I believe, have protested against such a mode of dealing with his words. True, his structures are castles in the air, but he had no idea himself that they were so.
In the 24th chapter there is a ridiculous descent from the sublimity of the two preceding. We are told that the possessor of entire sincerity is like a spirit, and can foreknow, but the foreknowledge is only a judging by the milfoil and tortoise and other auguries! But the author recovers himself, and resumes his theme about sincerity as conducting to self-completion, and the completion of other men and things, describing it also as possessing all the qualities which can be predicated of Heaven and Earth. Gradually the subject is made to converge to the person of Confucius, who is the ideal of the sage, as the sage is the ideal of humanity at large. An old account of the object of Tsze-sze in the Chung Yung is that “he wrote it to celebrate the virtue of his grandfather.” He certainly contrives to do this in the course of it. The 30th, 31st, and 32nd chapters contain his eulogium, and never has any other mortal been exalted in such terms. “He may be compared to Heaven and Earth in their supporting and containing, their overshadowing and curtaining all things; he may be compared to the four seasons in their alternating progress, and to the sun and moon in their successive shining." “Quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing knowledge, he was fitted to exercise rule; magnanimous, generous, benign, and mild, he was fitted to exercise forbearance; impulsive, energetic, firm, and enduring, he was fitted to maintain a firm hold; self-adjusted, grave, never swerving from the Mean, and correct, he was fitted to command reverence; accomplished, distinctive, concentrative, and searching, he was fitted to exercise discrimination." " All-embracing and vast, he was like heaven; deep and active as a fountain, he was like the abyss."
“ Therefore his fame overspreads the Middle Kingdom, and extends to all barbarous tribes. Wherever ships and carriages reach; wherever the strength of man penetrates; wherever the heavens overshadow and the earth sustains; wherever the sun and moon shine; wherever frosts
and dews fall; all who have blood and breath unfeignedly honour and love him. Hence it is said,--He is the equal of Heaven !" 6. Who can know him but he who is indeed quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing knowledge, possessing all heavenly virtue ?"
8. We have arrived at the concluding chapter of the Work, in which the author, according to Choo He, “having carried his descriptions to the highest point in the preceding chapters, turns back and examines the source of his subject; and then again from the work of the learner, free from all selfishness and watchful over himself when he is alone, he carries out his description, till by easy steps he brings it to the consummation of the whole empire tranquillized by simple and sincere reverentialness. He moreover eulogizes its mysteriousness, till he speaks of it at last as without sound or smell.” Between the first and last chapters there is a correspondency, and each of them may be considered as a summary of the whole treatise. The difference between them is, that in the first a commencement is made with the mention of Heaven as the conferrer of man's nature, while in this the progress of man in virtue is traced, step by step, till at last it is equal to that of High Heaven.
9. I have thus in the preceding paragraphs given a general and somewhat copious review of this Work. My object has been to seize, if I could, the train of thought, and to hold it up to the reader. Minor objections to it, arising from the confused use of terms and singular applications of passages from the older Classics, are noticed in the notes subjoined to the translation. I wished here that its scope should be seen, and the means be afforded of judging how far it is worthy of the high character attributed to it. " The relish of it," says the younger Ch‘ing, “is inexhaustible. The whole of it is solid learning. When the skilful reader has explored it with delight till he has apprehended it, he may carry it into practice all his life, and will find that it cannot be exhausted." My own opinion of it is much less favourable.
The names by which it has been called in translations of it have led to misconceptions of its character. Were it styled “ The states of Equilibrium and Harmony,” we should be prepared to expect something strange and probably extravagant. As