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free from any recent legal crime, and not in mourning for the dead. For the first order of sacrifices they are required to prepare themselves by ablutions, a change of garments, a vow, and a fast of three days. During this time they must occupy a clean chamber, and abstain-1, from judging criminals ; 2, from being present at a feast ; 3, from listening to music; 4, from cohabitation with women ; 5, from intercourse with the sick ; 6, from mourning for the dead; 7, from wine; 8, from eating onions or garlic; for,” says the annotator, “sickness and death defile, while banqueting and feasting dissipate the mind, and unfit it for holding communion with the gods.”
The victims sacrificed consist of oxen, sheep, and pigs; and the other offerings are principally silks.* It is required that the victims be whole and sound, and a black colour is preferred. The times of sacrifice are specified thus :—those to heaven are offered at the winter solstice; those to earth at the summer solstice; and the others at regularly appointed periods. The punishment annexed to the neglect of due preparation, imperfect victims, &c., is either forfeiture of salary for a month or longer, or a specified number of blows with the bamboo, which may be commuted for the payment of a very small sum of money, according to the number of blows adjudged to the delinquent; which, as in other cases throughout the penal code, may often be considered rather as a measure of the offence than as a specification of the real penalty inflicted. The case is far different if the common people presume to arrogate the right of worshipping heaven, for they are punished in such cases with eighty blows, and even with strangulation.
Notwithstanding the general aspect of materialism that * These, as well as the flesh of the sacrifices, are probably divided among the worshippers eventually.
pertains to the Chinese philosophy, it is difficult to peruse their sentiments regarding Tien (heaven) without the persuasion that they ascribe to it most of the attributes of a supreme governing intelligence. The work above quoted contains, in another place, the translation of the prayer of the reigning emperor Taou-kuâng, on the occasion of a long drought with which the whole country had been afflicted in the year 1832.* The following extract will show at once the responsibility which attaches to the conduct and administration of the emperor, and the notions of a Supreme Being associated with the Chinese ideas of Tien:
_“I, the minister of heaven (says the emperor), am placed over mankind and made responsible for keeping the world in order, and tranquillizing the people. Unable as I am to sleep or eat with composure, scorched with grief, and trembling with anxiety, still no genial and copious showers have yet descended. ***** I ask myself whether in sacrificial services I have been remiss ? whether pride and prodigality have had a place in my heart, springing up there unobserved ? whether from length of time I have become careless in the affairs of government? whether I have uttered irreverent words, and deserved reprehension ? whether perfect equity has been attained in conferring rewards and inflicting punishments ? whether, in raising mausoleums and laying out gardens, I have distressed the people and wasted property ? whether, in the appointment of officers, I have failed to obtain fit persons, and thereby rendered government vexatious to the people? whether the oppressed have found no means of appeal ? whether the largesses conferred on the afflicted southern provinces were properly applied, or the people left to die in the ditches ? **** Prostrate, I beg Imperial Heaven to pardon my ignorance and dulness, and to grant me
* Chinese Repository, vol. i. p. 236.
self-renovation ; for myriads of innocent people are involved by me, a single man. My sins are so numerous that it is hopeless to escape their consequences. Summer is past, and autumn arrived—to wait longer is impossible. Prostrate, I implore Imperial Heaven to grant a gracious deliverance,” &c.
It was the opinion of some among the Jesuits in China that the better portion of the learned in that country had not given way to the material and atheistical system current during the Soong dynasty, but adhered strictly to the ancient religion, in which a supreme and creative intelligence was acknowledged under the title of Tien, or Shang-ty.* The Confucian philosophers consisted, according to them, of two sects. First, of those who disregarded the modern commentators and philosophists, and retained the same notions regarding the Creator of the universe that had been handed down from remote antiquity. Secondly, of those who puzzle themselves with the speculations of Choo-tsze and his school, as they appear in the work before mentioned, and endeavour to explain the phenomena of nature by the operation of material causes. Others of the Romish missionaries were persuaded that all the Chinese learned were no better than atheists, and that, notwithstanding the express declaration of the Emperor Kâng-hy, in his communications with the pope, wherein he averred that it was not to the visible and material heaven that he sacrificed, but to the true Creator of the universe, no faith could be placed in their explanations. We have before remarked that the Romish fathers, however much they may have extolled the wealth, civilization, and resources of China, have generally viewed the moral and religious character of the people in a somewhat pre
* The supreme ruler. Keying, in his correspondence, frequently appealed to this power in proof of his sincerity.
judiced light; and the commercial adventurers from Europe, confined in their communications with the people to the neighbourhoods of seaports, unable commonly to gain correct information from books, and treated by the government as barbarous intruders, have been sufficiently predisposed to give way to unfavourable impressions.
Three systems of religion or philosophy - Indian history of Budhism
- Its introduction into China – Its five precepts — Its resemblance to popery — Monastery near Canton — Pagodas — Chinese objections to Budhism – Debtor and creditor account in religion - Present condition of Budhism in China — Pagan and Romish practices – Chinese account of Christ - Sacred language — Paradise and hell
— Budhist doctrines — Chinese Budhism. When a Chinese is asked how many systems of philosophic or religious belief exist in his country, he answers, Three-namely, Yu, the doctrine of Confucius, already noticed ; Fo, or Budhism; and the sect of Taou, or “Rationalists.” It must not, however, be inferred that these three hold an equal rank in general estimation. Confucianism is the orthodoxy, or state religion, of China; and the other two, though tolerated as long as they do not come into competition with the first, have been rather discredited than encouraged by the government. “First (it is observed in the Sacred Instructions) is the honourable doctrine of the Yu, and then those of Fo and Taou. Respecting these latter, Choo-tsze has said the doctrine of Fő regards neither heaven nor earth, nor the four regions. Its only object is the establishment of its sect, and the unanimity of its members. The doctrine of Taou consults nothing more than individual enjoyment and preservation.
The religion of Fě,* or, as it is pronounced at Canton, * This has been constantly confounded with the name of the ancient emperor Fo-hy.