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Confucius — His doctrines and influence – The Four Books'
Mencius — Five Canonical Works' — Book of Sacred Songs Historical fragment — Book of Rites — Confucius' history of his own times — The ‘Yě-king,' its resemblance to the mystical numbers of Pythagoras — Theory of creation - Confucian philosophy — Choo-foo-tsze -- Objects of state worship — Sacrifices — Recognition of a Supreme Being – Opinion of Jesuits concerning philosophy. It has been observed that the very errors of the human mind form a part of its history; and it is on this ground that the different religious or philosophic persuasions into which the vast population of China has been divided, claim a portion of our attention ; while it may be added, of the doctrines of Confucius in particular, that they form the basis of the whole system of government. These last, perhaps, owe some of their better traits to the circumstance of having originated during a period when the country was divided into a number of small states, nominally dependent on one head, but each ruled by its own laws; a condition more favourable to liberty and good government than its subsequent union under one absolute master.
Confucius, as his name has been Latinized by the Jesuits (being really Koong-foo-tse), was born about 550 B.C., in the state Loo, within the district now called Keofow Hien, just to the eastward of the great canal, in VOL. II.
Shantung province. It will be observed, from the date, that he was a contemporary of Pythagoras. From his earliest age, Confucius is said to have been indifferent to the ordinary amusements of youth, and devoted to grave and serious pursuits. Being the son of a statesman, the chief minister of his native kingdom, he employed himself entirely on moral and political science, and neither investigated any of the branches of natural knowledge, nor meddled with the common superstitions of his country. His doctrines, therefore, constitute rather a system of philosophy in the department of morals and politics, than any particular religious persuasion.
It was the chief endeavour of the sage to correct the vices which had crept into the state, and to restore the influence of those maxims which had been derived from the ancient kings, as Yaou, Shun, and others, celebrated in history or tradition. That he was sincere, and that his professed love of reform was not a mere steppingstone to his personal ambition, or an instrument to serve his private ends, was proved by the readiness with which he abandoned the station to which his talents had raised him, when he found that his counsels were unavailing, and his influence inadequate to the restoration of order. That portion of modern China which lies to the north of the great Keang was then divided into a commonwealth of states, of which the native kingdom of Confucius formed only a constituent member; and through these various countries he journeyed in a condition of simplicity and comparative indigence, devoting himself to the instruction of all ranks, and to the propagation of his precepts of virtue and social order. Such was the success of his endeavours, and the weight of his influential character and good example, that he is said to have reckoned, at length, as many as three thousand