Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter IX.: The Government of the Sages 1 . - The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King
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Chapter IX.: The Government of the Sages 1 . - Misc (Confucian School), The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King 
The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King, trans. James Legge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879).
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The Government of the Sages1 .
The disciple Ȝăng said, ‘I venture to ask whether in the virtue of the sages there was not something greater than filial piety.’ The Master replied, ‘Of all (creatures with their different) natures produced by Heaven and Earth, man is the noblest. Of all the actions of man there is none greater than filial piety. In filial piety there is nothing greater than the reverential awe of one’s father. In the reverential awe shown to one’s father there is nothing greater than the making him the correlate of Heaven2 . The duke of Kâu was the man who (first) did this3 .
‘Formerly the duke of Kâu at the border altar sacrificed to Hâu-kî as the correlate of Heaven, and in the Brilliant Hall he honoured king Wăn, and sacrificed to him as the correlate of God1 . The consequence was that from (all the states) within the four seas, every (prince) came in the discharge of his duty to (assist in those) sacrifices. In the virtue of the sages what besides was there greater than filial piety?
‘Now the feeling of affection grows up at the parents’ knees, and as (the duty of) nourishing those parents is exercised, the affection daily merges in awe. The sages proceeded from the (feeling of) awe to teach (the duties of) reverence, and from (that of) affection to teach (those of) love. The teachings of the sages, without being severe, were successful, and their government, without being rigorous, was effective. What they proceeded from was the root (of filial piety implanted by Heaven).
‘The relation and duties between father and son, (thus belonging to) the Heaven-conferred nature, (contain in them the principle of) righteousness between ruler and subject1 . The son derives his life from his parents, and no greater gift could possibly be transmitted; his ruler and parent (in one), his father deals with him accordingly, and no generosity could be greater than this. Hence, he who does not love his parents, but loves other men, is called a rebel against virtue; and he who does not revere his parents, but reveres other men, is called a rebel against propriety. When (the ruler) himself thus acts contrary to (the principles) which should place him in accord (with all men), he presents nothing for the people to imitate. He has nothing to do with what is good, but entirely and only with what is injurious to virtue. Though he may get (his will, and be above others), the superior man does not give him his approval.
‘It is not so with the superior man. He speaks, having thought whether the words should be spoken; he acts, having thought whether his actions are sure to give pleasure. His virtue and righteousness are such as will be honoured; what he initiates and does is fit to be imitated; his deportment is worthy of contemplation; his movements in advancing or retiring are all according to the proper rule. In this way does he present himself to the people, who both revere and love him, imitate and become like him. Thus he is able to make his teaching of virtue successful, and his government and orders to be carried into effect1 .
‘It is said in the Book of Poetry2 ,
[1 ] ‘The sages’ here must mean the sage sovereigns of antiquity, who had at once the highest wisdom and the highest place.
[2 ] See a note on p. 99 on the meaning of the phrase ‘the fellow of God,’ which is the same as that in this chapter, translated ‘the correlate of God.’ P. Cibot goes at length into a discussion of the idea conveyed by the Chinese character P‘ei, but without coming to any definite conclusion; and indeed Tâi Thung, author of the dictionary Liû Shû Kû, says that ‘its original significancy has baffled investigation, while its classical usage is in the sense of “mate,” “fellow.” ’ The meaning here is the second assigned to it on p. 99. In the Chinese Repository we find:—‘As a mark of reverence there is nothing more important than to place the father on an equality with heaven;’ which is by no means the idea, while the author further distorts the meaning by the following note:—‘T‘ien, “Heaven,” and Shang Tî, the “Supreme Ruler,” seem to be perfectly synonymous; and whatever ideas the Chinese attach to them, it is evident that the noble lord of Kâu regarded his ancestors, immediate and remote, as their equals, and paid to the one the same homage as the other. In thus elevating mortals to an equality with the Supreme Ruler, he is upheld and approved by Confucius, and has been imitated by myriads of every generation of his countrymen down to the present day.’
[3 ] It is difficult to say in what the innovation of the duke of Kâu consisted. The editors of the Extensive Explanation of the Hsiâo say:—‘According to commentators on our classic, Shun thinking only of the virtue of his ancestor did not sacrifice to him at the border altar. The sovereigns of Hsiâ and Yin were the first to sacrifice there to their ancestors; but they had not the ceremony of sacrificing to their fathers as the correlates of Heaven. This began with the duke of Kâu.’ To this explanation of the text the editors demur, and consider that the noun ‘father’ in the previous sentence should be taken, in the case of the duke of Kâu, both of Hâu-kî and king Wăn.
[1 ] The reader of the translations from the Shih must be familiar with Hâu-kî, as the ancestor to whom the kings of Kâu traced their lineage, and with king Wăn, as the acknowledged founder of their dynasty in connexion with his son, king Wû. Was any greater honour done to Hâu-kî in making him the correlate of Heaven than to king Wăn in making him the correlate of God? We must say, No. As is said in the Extensive Explanation, ‘The words Heaven and God are different, but their meaning is one and the same.’ The question is susceptible of easy determination. Let me refer the reader to the translations from the Shih on pp. 317 and 329. The tenth piece on the latter was sung, at the border sacrifice to Heaven, in honour of Hâu-kî; and the first four lines of it are to the effect—
while the fifth and sixth lines are—
The seventh piece on the former page was used at the sacrifice, in the Brilliant Hall, to king Wăn, as ‘the correlate of God.’ The first three lines have been versified by—
and the sixth and seventh lines by—
Since ‘Heaven’ and ‘God’ have the same reference, why are they used here as if there were some opposition between them? The nearest approach to an answer to this is found also in the Extensive Explanation, derived mainly from Khăn Hsiang-tâo, of the Sung dynasty, and to the following effect:—‘Heaven (Tien) just is God (Tî). Heaven is a term specially expressive of honour, and Hâu-kî was made the correlate of Heaven, because he was remote, far distant from the worshipper. God is a term expressive of affection, and king Wăn was made the correlate of God, because he was nearer to, the father of, the duke of Kâu.’ Hsiang-tâo concludes by saying that the sacrifice at the border altar was an old institution, while that in the Brilliant Hall was first appointed by the duke of Kâu. According to this view, Heaven would approximate to the name for Deity in the absolute,—Jehovah, as explained in Exodus xv. 14; while Tî is God, ‘our Father in heaven.’
[1 ] We find for this in the Chinese Repository:—‘The feelings which ought to characterise the intercourse between father and son are of a heavenly nature, resembling the bonds which exist between a prince and his ministers.’ P. Cibot gives:—‘Les rapports immuable de père et de fils découlent de l’essence même du Tien, et offrent la première idée de prince et de sujet;’ adding on the former clause this note:—‘Les commentateurs ne disent que des mots sur ces paroles; mais comment pourroient ils les bien expliquer, puisqu’ils ne sauroient en entrevoir le sens supreme et ineffable? Quelques-uns ont pris le parti de citer le texte de Tâo-teh King (ch. 42), “Le Tâo est vie et unité; le premier a engendré le second; les deux ont produit le troisième; le trois ont fait toutes choses;” c’est-à-dire, qu’ils ont tâchè d’expliquer un texte qui les passe, par un autre où ils ne comprennent rien.’ But there is neither difficulty in the construction of the text here, nor mystery in its meaning.
[1 ] This paragraph may be called a mosaic, formed by piecing together passages from the Ȝo Kwan.
[2 ] See the Shih, I, xiv, ode 3, stanza 3.