Puslapio vaizdai

daily entering the wrong against one's self?' Then is given the model form referred to above, which, written after Western forms of accounts, stands as follows:

[blocks in formation]

Considering that, according to this plan, each man is to judge of the value of his own actions, is is quite conceivable that a difference will arise between the accounts kept here and those kept by the powers above. For instance, at the end of the year, the Chinese moralist may be congratulating himself on a balance in his favour of about 10,000 merits, while at the same time the more impartial judges above are putting down an awful balance of 100,000 demerits to his account. Many examples, however, are given of men who have practised this wonderful scheme, and it is said to have proved a success in every case. They all became famous men, and left their names behind them for many generations. But surely such self-righteousness matches well that of the Pharisees of old; and surely it does not excel it. It is just as good, and just as bad, and just as useless-"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

All this account keeping with the gods, this voluntary effort to establish a self-righteousness, looks as if the Chinese believed in the freewill of man-as if they believed that, to a great extent, he held the reins of his fortunes in his own hands-and yet these tracts afford plain proof of their belief in fate. Why pray for wealth and honour

if you be already fated to enjoy them? And you toil in vain to escape poverty and low position if these things are in your fate. Know that the events of your whole life are decreed, and reverently yield to and obey the mandates of Heaven.' Fatalists, according to this quotation,

the Chinese evidently are; but according to the whole tenour of their religious books, they are also believers in the freedom of the human will, and in man's responsibility.

From this general review of a portion of Chinese religious literature the following conclusions may be drawn:

1. It is very evident that the Chinese as a people have paid, and do pay, considerable attention to the great twin subjects of Morality and Religion.

2. It is also evident that some attempt is made to teach these great matters to the people generally, and to enforce practical attention to them.

3. It is plain also, to demonstration, that the nation has found Confucianism insufficient for its spiritual needs, and has therefore not only tolerated but welcomed the teachings of Buddhism and Taoism.

4. It is nevertheless also plain that the influence of Confucianism is paramount in the native mind, inclining it to place fidelity to the claims of the Five Relations even on a higher footing than piety to the gods; inclining it to place ethics first, religion second.

5. It is clear that the Chinese are very shrewd and impartial observers of their own social life and religious customs, and that they are able to detect, and bold enough to expose, the faults and foibles of their own systems and practice.

6. It is equally clear, however, that, in making such observations they are not free from the influence of strong prejudices—prejudices of education, long established usage, social rank, sex, nationality, etc., which unintentionally distort their veiws of things and warp their judgments.

7. It is evident that the social system of the Chinese, although so carefully and widely elaborated, is a cumbrous machinery, often getting out of gear, and requiring much lucubration in order to keep it going with even moderate friction.

8. It is evident also that this social system is not arranged so as to produce the equal happiness of both sexes, but so as to secure the lion's share, not only of power and authority, but also of happiness, to the male the strong triumphs over the weak.

9. In their religious system it is evident that the admission of polytheism introduces elements of weakness and disorder. Their objects of worship remind one of the great image seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dreams-with a head of fine gold they come down tofeet of clay.

10. Even here again the human element prevails, and, seated high in the pantheon among the gods, we see ancestors and illustrious men of past ages. They share with acknowdged deities the homage and worship of the nation; and perhaps they too get the lion's share

11. It is evident that the knowledge of the true God, or something which comes very near to that, lies buried under heaps of worthless rubbish; and yet not so absolutely buried as to prevent a pure gleam here and there of the true metal from piercing through the superincumbent mass. Great truths are sometimes met with struggling

towards the light.

12. The matter-of-fact, practical tendency, of the Chinese mind, is quite as evident in the sphere of religion as in that of ethics. We see the same preponderance of attention paid to the doctrine of rewards and punishments, that we saw given to the doctrines of the Five Relations.

In conclusion: There is in these books an evident groping after truth, a struggling towards the light, however degraded by mistaken ideas of what truth is or by confused admixture of darkess and light: there is an evident desire for virtue and goodness, however degraded by misconceptions as to the nature of sin and the methods of establishing righteousness and there is an evident longing to escape from dreaded and deserved punishment into the enjoyment of some blissful future, however degraded by gross conceptions of hell and unworthy views of future life and these gropings, strugglings, desires, longings, combine to form a good ground of hope for the ultimate success of Christian effort in the land. Only let these desires be directed towards Him who is "the way, the truth, and the life," and He will show the nation what truth is and how to know it, what virtue is and how to acquire it, what eternal life is and how to attain unto it.




HEN Alopen, the founder of the mission, arrived in China with


his company in A.D. 636, the emperor T'ai Tsung () was on the throne. His name may be Alopana, "God hath looked." Mahommedans were then trading at Canton, as we know by the history of the Mahommedan mosque and tomb at that city. Navigation was open to and from the Persian gulf, consequently the missionaries would come by sea and would proceed to the capital from Canton. This is rendered probable by the fact that they had an interpreter in Changan when introduced to high officials and to the emperor. This inter

* This account is intended to be supplemental to the investigations of those who have given loving and careful study to the Syrian monument and to the missions of which it was the early relic. The reader is referred to what Wylie, Salisbury, Pauthier, Bridgman and others have written in this century on the whole subject, and to Kircher's China Illustrata for full information on the history of the dis covery and for the first translation of the inscription.

preter would more easily accompany them from Canton than from any other place of which we know.

The first war of conquest conducted by the Arabs in Persia lasted from A.D. 632 to 637. During this period of disorganization the Nestorian mission left. It is a coincidence that the second of the Mahommedan travellers whose narratives were translated into French by Renaudot also left the Persian gulf at a time of war in order to escape from the commotion prevailing around him. At an earlier date in A.D. 534, the Persians sent an embassy which arrived at Nanking by entering the Kiang, and was received by the Liang emperor. On this occasion among the presents was a Buddha's tooth. I cite this from Ma-twan-lin to shew how navigation had at that early period connected the Persian gulf with the parts of China. The same writer mentions under the year A.D. 638 an embassy to the newly commenced Tang dynasty from Persia just then troubled by rebellion and by the Arabian invasion. The Chinese monarch declined to aid Persia on account of the distance to her shores. In 661 another pressing application was made for assistance against the Arabs. The emperor sent an army by land which divided Eastern Persia, that is a certain portion of it, into districts of large and small size, with the names of cheu and hien, wishing to govern the country on the Chinese plan. The king of Persia ruling in Zarang* received a Viceroy's title. But he was soon overwhelmed by the Arabs and this was the end of the Sassanide dynasty.

Thus began and ended the Chinese suzerainty over Eastern Persia in which Zarang occupied a central position corresponding to that of the ancient tribe called Zarangii of the times of Alexander and Darius.

This early effort at sovereignty over Persia by the Tang emperors should be recollected when reading the account given by the two Mahommedaus in Renaudot's book of the knowledge possessed of Persia, of Christianity, of the Old Testament, and of the Caliphate by a later sovereign of the same dynasty. Farther on I shall again refer to this matter.

The battle of Nahavund in which Yezdigird was defeated took place in 641. This seems to be the event referred to in the Chinese history when it is said that his viceroyalty was destroyed by the Arabs. The title bestowed on Yezdigird by the emperor Kau Tsung, son of T'ai Tsung (who welcomed to China the first company of Syrian missionaries) was Tu tu,"general overseer." Yezdigird lived long after, for we find him taking refuge in Chang-an in 670, or about

the Persian for "king," seems to be a mistake for Yezd a large city. Th second of these words is directed to be pronounced zat. The city Zarang is pro The characters Po si

bably meant by

in the account.

Persia were

then read Pasi.

that time. He was honoured with the title of General of the Right and then soon after died. The last of the Sassanides, the powerful kings who fought with Julian and Justinian, the descendant of such famous ancestors as Chosroes and Nooshirvan died, and was buried at Si-an-fu in China, a fugitive from his country, and the last monarch who professed the Magian religion.

The Nestorians were, in their mission settlements, encouraged both by the Sassanides while they reigned, and by the Caliphs afterwards because they were not in favour with the orthodox party. Neander tells us that political interest inclined the non-Christian governments of these times to favour in this way the Nestorians. From Beth abe in Mesopotamia as a centre, they carried on their missions in eastern countries. The Coromandel missions would naturally be established by missionaries arriving in trading vessels from the Gulf; and so the China missions too, would, in the same easy way, be rendered possible by the residence of Arabian merchants in Canton.

The Syrian missions were particularly flourishing under Timotheus who was patriarch from 778 to 820. He sent out a stream of missionaries to the countries bordering on the Caspian, to the East Indies and to China. Among the bishops he ordained were Kardag and Gabdallaha. On account of their activity and success, Timotheus gave them authority to ordain many of the monks as bishops where it was necessary. But he required, that there should be always three bishops present at the ordination of a bishop, or two only and a book of the Gospels to represent the third. One bishop of China was named David. He must have reached China soon after the inscription was erected.

In the third year after Alopana's arrived an edict in his favour was issued directing that a monastery should be erected in the street or square named Yi ning fang. This square was on the east of the south gate. It was shaped like the Chinese character t'ien and had a gate at the middle point of each of the four sides. The Syrian monastery was in the north-east portion. It was called in the edict Ta ts'in si. But in the Topography of Chang-an, drawn up in A.D. 1086 by Chau Yen-jo, it is called the Persian Foreign Monastery, Po si hu si. The word hu "foreign" is applied to western, northern and eastern foreigners in Chinese literature.

The imperial city of that time was five li and one-third or nearly two miles from east to west, and little more than one mile from north to south. Within this the palace was four li from east to west and nearly three li from north to south. The height of the enclosing wall was 35 feet. The outside city appears to have been built on the south, east and west. The position of the Syrian mission was on the west,

« AnkstesnisTęsti »