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answer to this last question, he does not say that, "a God of love and of hell together cannot be thought." No; he says, Heaven is not to blame for this mysterious anomaly. Man is himself to blame for his own sufferings. They are the fruit of his evil conduct. What man does he does of himself; how then can he complain at all against Heaven and Earth ?' Put 'God' for 'Heaven and Earth,' and we shall not have much to complain of in this teaching.
The doctrines of Repentance and Faith occupy a position of some importance in this system. Reform and lead a new life. Who, not being sages, can claim to be faultless? And knowing this, let each reform, and that without delay. Become a new man.' 'All virtuous deeds are possible to the believing heart. There is a class of persons, free from many vices, who nevertheless are unable to record the performance of any very virtuous deeds. The good they do is only partially done. Not having true faith they get through this good deed, and lazily perform that, but their work never reaches a full-orbed perfection. If they only attempted the same works animated with an unwavering faith, then their good deeds would be greatly multiplied in number, and greatly exalted in character.
The great doctrine of existence after death is plainly stated in a few places, and generally assumed. As far, however, as I can find, the element of eternity is omitted. Those who compose lascivious songs and write licentious books, are threatened with the punishment of Avîtchi, or the ngo-pih "hell; i.e. the hell without interruption." The idea of eternal punishment is nearly approached in this place; but still, even out of this hell, there is some "hope of final redemption." It remains therefore a fact, and one of great importance, that whilst the Chinese believe in a future life they have no idea of eternal life, or of eternal death. Dutiful descendants are assured that, in the world of shades their ancestors will be pleased with them, and afford them their protection.' Deceased parents 'will derive peace to their spirits,' by observing harmony amongst their living children. And departed ancestors are said to be 'tranquilized by the sight of friendliness amongst the members of their clan.' On the other hand clansmen living at variance with each other, are asked, how will you be able to face your ancestors after your death ?'
The Chinese as a people certainly do not believe in the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. They commonly attempt to comfort the bereaved by saying, 'weep not, he cannot rise again.' And one of these tracts, in warning men to beware of crime, says: 'If put to death for any offence, nobody can rise again.' And yet in another of
these tracts the words occur, ‘he rose again the third day' [FE E
], said of a village gentleman.
The terms 'heaven' and 'hell’have, in these tracts, and in the minds of the Chinese, a very different sense from that which they bear in the Bible. Heaven is here represented as the abode of the gods and demigods only, not of ordinary people. The Buddhist and Taoist divinities, who govern the constant affairs of human life and death, were all loyal ministers and filial sons in ancient times : and, having endured unnumbered trials and sufferings, after death they became gods. How can ordinary prople think of ascending to heaven!' Hell is a series, innumerable, of purgatorial states, through which the sinful soul must pass until its sins are atoned for by suffering, and it is permitted to resume life in this sublunary sphere. The future state to the Chinaman is, therefore, transmigration, oblivion coming in between each separate life ; and it may, of course, in imagination, go on for ever.
The doctrine of Rewards and Punishments receives a very exhaustive and striking treatment at all hands of these writers. Leaving the Kan-yin-pien of Lao Tze (the Book of Rewards and Punishments,) out of the question, we find more than enough on this subject, for our purpose, in the tracts before us.
'Lay up much secret merit; i.e. such merit as accrues from the performance of good deeds known only to one's self. It is a hundred times better to lay up secret merit than silver. A time may come when one's hoarded silver is exhausted; but laid up secret merit can never be exhausted, even by one's sons and grandsons. “Never do wrong; always do right: so shall you
' escape all baneful influences, and perpetually enjoy the guardian care of gracious spirits. The near reward shall be enjoyed in your own person, the distant reward in the persons of your descendants.' 'Good has its own reward, evil its own punishment: delay makes no difference, the time may not have arrived.' 'Good and evil deeds man can easily distinguish, but the principle of rewards and punishment is more difficult for him to comprehend. Moreover, the fact that some most virtuous persons fare unfortunately, and vice versa, is a mystery to many.
, The reason is this : men are unfortunate in spite of their goodness because they are working off the evil effect of ancestral folly or sin; or else they are expiating the crimes which themselves have committed in a previous life. Wait till these are all exhausted and goodness will naturally be followed with its own reward. Another reason for this anomaly may be found in the fact that Heaven desires to test the good man's resolution and fidelity. Poverty, sickness, bereavement, etc, are all used by Heaven for this purpose. Apply the same consi
derations to the cases of those wicked men who flourish and the anomaly disappears. When good and evil reach their crises, rewards surely follow; it is only a question of time.'
It is very observable that both rewards and punishments are closely connected with the present life. It is true that they are made to extend into the future and down to posterity ; but the Chinese moralist is far-seeing enough to discover that rewards and punishments wholly, or even mainly in the future, are very likely to be disregarded. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,' or as the native proverb has it, ' A cup in the hand is worth all besides,' being the belief of almost every Chinaman. The common rewards promised and hoped for, are wealth, long life, fame, posterity, with a fair chance in the future state of a happy transmigration. The common punishments threatened and dreaded are want, calamity, sickness, thunderstroke, untimely death, disgrace, bereavement, barrenness, with the torments of nobody-knows-how-many hells hereafter, and a slender chance of escape into anything more respectable than the body of a reptile or a brute. *You, whose words are presumptuous, reflect ! Heaven sends down rewards before your very eyes. You who cheat and waste, reflect! How will you endure to become pigs or dogs in the life to come ?' The punishments supposed to be inflicted on the sinner in his passage through the realms of Hades are disgusting and horrible to the last degree : and to make them more striking and terrible the Chinese must needs draw them in pictures and model them in forms. The intention is to frighten people out of their sins; and perhaps in one case out of a thousand these representations may prove effectual. On thoughtful persons, and persons of taste, the only influence produced must be one of loathing and disgust.
In one of the most elaborately illustrated and popular books on “the mysteries and horrors of the invisible world,” this remarkable sentiment is to be found : The hell of Hades is the hell in man's heart. If there were no hell in man's heart, that other hell might be empty. In this same book the circular diagram of the palace of Hades shows six classes of beings escaping therefrom; or rather it shows man escaping therefrom in six conditions: first, in wealth and honour; second, in poverty and meanness; third, as viviparous animals ; fourth,
3 as oviparous fowls, etc; fifth, as reptilia ; and sixth, as insects, or metamorphosed creatures. Under certain conditions it is said, “Men shall be reborn in circumstances of happiness; and women shall be transformed into the masculine gender.
Of the hells pictured and described in this book, it is enough to say that in variety they are almost infinite, and in number innumer
able. All that a horrible and gross imagination can picture forth is here embodied; and such ingenuity of invention is marvellous to wit
Most of what is here said is borrowed of course, from a foreign source; but the seed appears to have fallen into congenial soil, for the Chinese have not only adopted these ideas con amore, but have also added to them, by creating, in their ungenerous imaginations, a special hell for females, out of which it is said there is really no release.
The following is a specimen list of the deeds good and bad, for which these rewards and punishments are prepared, with their arithmetical values attached :
For saying and doing only what is right, and for refusing to indulge in one depraved thought, per diem
1 For converting a rich or influential person, and causing him to perform good deeds
1000 For distributing one volume of a religious book... For diligence in teaching the young, per diem
1 For respectful treatment of teachers and elders, per diem...
1 For repairing important bridges or roads
100 For repairing or building temples and altars
1000 For contributing a daily sum of 1 tael and upwards to preserve animal life, per dieni
10 For life-long abstentation from killing animals
100 For conceiving a good thought and carrying it out, each time
1 For taking care of rejected children
100 For preventing female infanticide
100 For beginning a foundling asylum
1000 For averting great law suits ...
100 For giving a coffin to bury a poor man in
100 For giving clothing to a naked woman
100 For giving away tea or cash, each time
1 For abstinence from fishing, hunting, killing oxen or dogs,
tortoise and frog catching, whoredom, gambling, and
100 For gathering up lettered paper, per diem ... ,
DEMERITS. For harbouring a malicious disposition, per diem
1 For reading a licentious book, each time
1 For looking lustfully on a woman
5 For promoting litigation
100 For lodging false accusation against a person
100 For neglecting to teach one's pupils, per diem
1 For drowning children
1000 For writing a bill of divorce against a wife
10,000 For smoking opium, each time
1 For tasting beef, dog's flesh, tortoise, or frog, each time ...
10 For refusing help in cases of fires, flood, and robberies
10 For malpractice in medical cases
100 In reading over these strange lists of numbered virtues and vices, one is compelled to wonder at the standard of morality in use which allots such different and arbitrary values. For instance, why
should lewdness on the part of females be charged with 50,000 marks of demerit, when males are let off with 100 for whoredom, gambling, debauching servants, and sodomy? And why should the crime of debauching a poor servant girl be charged with only 100 marks of demerit, when in the case of a more respectable woman the crime is charged with 10,000 marks of demerit? And why should the writing of a bill of divorce be charged with the same number of marks of demerits as the last mentioned case? Why should the oppression of the poor for debt receive only one mark of demerit, while 1000 marks are put down against a wife who dislikes her ugly husband? Why should the daily use of unjust weights and measures, and of dishonest modes of doing business, be debited with only 1 demerit mark per diem, when a man who refuses to complete a marriage because he discovers that his bride is no beauty, has scored against him 10,000 marks? The adulteration of silver with copper is branded with 100,000 marks of demerit, and the same number is charged against sons for the fatal neglect of sick parents: are these crimes of equal magnitude? Is it fair to give a man 1 merit mark for every character which he picks up out of the dirt, and only give 1 mark per diem to the man who lights up his dark street with a lamp? Why should a man be excused with 1 mark of demerit for striking his wife for a small affair, when he will be charged 100,000 if he neglect to avenge his parents on their enemies? Why should a man get 50 marks of merit for presenting a piece of matting to bury a beggar in, when he will only get 1 mark for pitying his wife in sickness? There is little reason or common-sense in all this, but there is a reflection, strong and vivid, of the way Chinamen think of things, of their distorted views of duty virtue crime and sin.
The supreme absurdity of this arithmetical system of vice and virtue is seen in the model form in which a man's account with the gods above is recommended to be kept. This scheme of recording merits and demerits is so minute and simple that all, men and women, rich and poor, may put it into practice. Let those who are willing to do so make a daily record of their merits and demerits. One merit may be briefly recorded, thus-O; ten merits, thus-; a hundred merits, thus-: one demerit, thus-x; ten demerits, thus-*; and a hundred demerits, thus-.' 'Make a record both of your demerits and merits. If you fail to record merits, how are you going to get rid of demerits? Therefore as your demerits may not be hidden, so your merits may not be kept out of sight. But, indeed, the design. of this recording of demerits is that men may be led to diminish their number; for what good is there otherwise in daily doing wrong and