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Record of the Reconstruction of the Ching-Chen-Si
Tenney, Charles Daniel

[inline]Kaifeng Tablet of A.D. 1489

A-wu-lo-han (Abraham), the patriarch who founded
Israel ( ) the religion of the joyful inheritance
conferred by the Great One, was the nineteenth descendant
from Pan-ku ( ), or A-tan ( Adam).
From the beginning of the world the patriarchs have
handed down the precept that we must not make images and
similitudes, and that we must not worship ghosts (Shen-gui,
 ) for neither can images and similitudes protect,
nor the ghosts afford us aid. The patriarch thinking upon
Heaven(God), the pure and ethereal Being who dwells on
high, the Most honourable and without compare, that Divine
Providence, who, without speaking, causes the four seasons
to revolve, and the myriad of things to grow; and looking
at the budding of spring, the growth of summer, the in­
gathering of harvest, and the storing of winter, at the
objects that fly, dive, move and vegetate, whether they
flourish or decay, bloom or droop, all so easy and natural
in their productions and transformations, intheir assump­
tions of form and colour, was suddenly roused to reflec­
tion, and understood this deep mystery; he then sincerely
sought after the correct instruction, and adoringly praised
the true Heaven (God); with his whole heart he served, and
with his undivided attention reverenced Him; by this means he
set up the foundation of religion, and caused it to be hand­
ed down to the present day. This happened according to our
enquiry, in the 146th. year of the Chow ( ), state
[it is unclear if this text is intended to be bold or is merely bold because it was added later]
(Chow state of the days of Shun, B.C.2254). From him the
doctrines were handed down to the great teacher and legis­
lator Moses ( ), who according to our computation
lived about the 613th. year of the same state. This man
was intelligent from his birth, pure and disinterested,
endowed with benevolence and righteousness, virtue and
wisdom all complete; he sought and obtained the sacred
writings on the top of Sinai mountain ( ),where
he fasted forty days and nights, repressing his carnal
desires, refraining even from sleep, and spending his
time in sincere devotion. His piety moved the heart of
heaven (God), and the sacred writings, amounting to
fifty-three sections, were thus obtained. Their con­
tents are deep and mysterious, their promises calculated
to influence men's good feelings, and their threatenings
to repress their corrupt imaginations.
The doctrines were again handed down to the time of
the reformer of religion and wise instructor Ezra ( ),
whose descent was reckoned from the founder of our religion,
and whose teaching contained the right clue to his instruc­
tions, viz., the duty of honouring Heaven (God) by appro­
priate worship; so that he could be considered capable of
unfolding the mysteries of the religion of our forefathers.
But religion must consist in the purity and truth of Divine
worship. Purity refers to the Pure One, who is without
mixture; truth to the correct One, who is without corrup­
tion; worship consists in reverence, and in bowing down to
the ground. Men in their daily avocations must not for a
single moment forget Heaven, but at the hours of four in
the morning, mid-day, and six in the evening, should thrice
perform their adorations, which is the true principle of the
religion of Heaven. The form observed by the virtuous men
of antiquity was, first to bathe and change their clothes,
taking care at the same time to purit [inline]fy their hearts and correct their senses, after which they reverently approach­
ed before Eternal Reason and the Sacred Writings. Eternal
Reason is
Reason is without form or figure, like the Eternal Reason
of Heaven, exalted on high. We will here endeavour to set
forth the general course of Divine worship in order. First,
the worshipper bending his body, does reverence to Eternal
Reason, by which means he recognizes Eternal Reason as pre­
sent in such bending of the body; the standing upright in
the midst, without declining, he does obeisance to Eternal
Reason, by which means he recognises Eternal Reason as stand­
ing in the midst; in stillness, maintaining his spirit, and
silently praising, he venerates Eternal Reason, showing that
he incessantly remembers Heaven; in motion, examining him­
self, and lifting up his voice, he honours Eternal Reason,
showing that he unfailingly remembers Heaven. This is the
way in which our religion teaches us to look towards in­
visible space and perform our adorations.
Retiring three paces, the worshipper gets suddenly to
the rear, to show this reverence for the Eternal Reason who
is behind him; advancing five steps, he looks on before, to
show his reverence for the Eternal Reason, who is in front
of his person; he bows towards the left, reverencing Eternal
Reason, whereby he admires the Eternal Reason who is on
his left; he bows towards the right, revencing Eternal Rea­
son, whereby he adores the Eternal Reason who is on his
right; looking up, he reverences Eternal Reason, to shew that
he considers Eternal Reason as above him; looking down,
he reverences Eternal Reason, to shew that he considers Eternal
Reason as close to him; at the close, he worships Eternal
Reason, manifesting reverence in this act of adoration.
But to venerate Heaven and to neglect ancestors, is to fail
in the services which are their due. In the spring and
autumn, therefore, men sacrifice to their ancestors, to
shew that they serve the dead as they do the living, and
pay the same respect to the departed, that they do to those
who survive. The offer sheep and oxen, and present the fruits
of the season, to shew that they do not neglect the honour
due to ancestors, when they are gone from us. During the
course of every month we fast and abstain four times, which
constitutes the door by which religion is entered, and the
basis on which goodness is accumulated. It is called an
entrance because we practise one act of goodness today
and another tomorrow; thus having commenced the merit of
abstinence, we add to our store, avoiding the practice of
every vice, and reverently performing every virtue. Every
seventh day we observe a holy rest, which when terminated
begins anew; as it is said in the Book of Diagrams, "The
good man in the practice of virtue, apprehends lest the
time should prove too short". At each of the four seasons
we lay ourselves under a seven days’ restraint, in remem­
brance of the trials endured by our ancestors; by which
means we venerate our predecessors and reward our pro­
genitors; we also abstain entirely from food during a whole
day, when we reverently pray to Heaven, repent of our former
faults, and practice anew the duties of each day. The Book
of Diagrams also says, "When the wind and thunder prevail,
the good man thinks of what virtues he shall practice, and
if he has any errors he reforms them". Thus our religious
system has been handed down, and communicated from one to
another. It came originally from India ( ), those
who introduced it in obedience to the Divine command were
seventy clans, viz., those of Yen Li Ngai Kao
Muh Chao Kin Chow Chang Shih Hwang
Nie Tso Pah and others. These brought as
tribute some western cloth. The Emperor of the Sung Dynasty
(Heaou-tsung or Lung-hing 1163.) said, "Since they have come
to our
to our Central Land, and reverently observe the customs of
their ancestors, let them hand down their doctrines at
Pien-liang (Kai-feng)" In the first year of Lung-hing, of
the Sung Dynasty, in the 20th year of the 65th Cycle (A.D.
1166 ?) Lie Ching and Wu [inline]-ssi-ta superintended this
religion, and Yen Tu-la ( ) built the synagogue.
In the reign of Chin-yuen ( ) of the Yuen dynasty,
or the 16th year of the 67th Cycle (A.D. 1280).wu-ssi-ta
rebuilt the ancient temple of Truth and Purity, which was
situated in the Tu Shih tzi street, on the south-east side;
on each side the area of the temple extended 350 feet.
When the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty (1390) establish­
ed his throne and pacified his empire, all those who came
under the civilizing influence of our country were present­
ed with ground, on which they might dwell quietly, and
profess their religion without molestation, in order to
manifest a feeling of sympathizing benevolence, which views
all alike. But as this temple required someone to look
after its concerns, there were appointed for that purpose
Li-cheng, Li-shih, Yen-ping-tu, Ngai-ging, Chou-an, Li-kang,
and others, who were themselves upright and intelligent
men, and able to admonish others, having attained the title
of Man-la (Mullah) . So that up to this time, the
sacred vestments, ceremonies and music, are all maintained
according to the prescribed pattern, and every word and
action is conformed to the ancient rule; every man there­
fore keeps the laws, and knows how to reverence Heaven, and
respect the patriarchs, being faithful to the prince, and
filial to parents, all in consequence of the efforts of
these teachers. Yen-cheng, who was skilled in medicine,
in the 19th. year of Yung-lo (A.D. 1417), received the
imperial commands communicated through Chow-fu-ting-wang (
( )
( ), to present incense in the temple of Truth
and purity, which was then repaired; about the same time
also there was received the imperial tablet of the Ming
dynasty, to be erected in the temple. In the 21st. year
of Yung-lo (1422), the above-named officer reported that
he had executed some trust reposed in him; whereupon the
Emperor changed his surname to Chao, and conferred upon
him an embroidered garment, and a title of dignity, elevat­
ing him to be a magistrate in Chekiang Province.
In the 10th. year of Cheng-tung (1465), Li-yung and
some others rebuilt the three rooms in front of the synago­
gue. It appears that in the 5th. year of Tien-shun (13490[inline]),
the Yellow River had inundated the synagogue, but the foun­
dations were still preserved; whereupon Ngai-ging and others
petitioned to be allowed to restore it to its original form,
and through the chief magistrate of the Prefecture, received
an order from the Treasurer of the Honan Province, granting
that it might be done in conformity with the old form of the
temple of Truth and Purity that had existed in the time of
Chih-yuan (1290-; whereupon "Li-yun provided the funds, and
the whole was made quite new.
During the reign of Cheng-hwa (1470) Kao-chien provided
the funds for repairing the three rooms at the back of the
synagogue. He also deposited therein three volumes of the
Sacred Writings. Such is the history of the front and back
rooms of the synagogue. During the reign of Tien-shun (1440),
Shih-pin, Kao-chien and Chang-hsuen, had brought from the
professors of this religion at Ningpo, one volume of the
Sacred Writings; while Chao Ying-cheng, of Ningpo, sent
another volume of the Divine Word, which was presented to
the synagogue at Pien-liang, or Kaifeng Foo. His younger
brother Ying also provided funds, and in the second year of
Hung-Chih (1488) strengthened the foundations of the synago­
gue. Ying with myself Chung, entrusted to Chao-tsun the
setting up of the present tablet; Yen-tu-la had already fixed
the foundation of the building, and commenced to work; to­
wards the compe[inline]letion of which, all the families contributed;
and thus provided the sacred implements and furniture con­
nected with the cells for depositing the sacred writings,
causing the whole synagogue to be painted and ornamented, and
put into a complete repair. For I conceive that the three
religions of China have each their respective temples, and
severally honour to founders of their faith; among the li­
terati there is the temple of Great Perfection (Ta-cheng),
dedicated to Confucius; among the Buddhists there is the
temple of the Sacred Countenance (Sheng-yung), dedicated to
Buddha (Ni-mu ); and among the Taoists there is the
temple of Yi-hwang. (Jewel Emperor). So also in the True and
Pure religion there is the temple of the inheritance of
Israel (Yi-si-lo-yie erected to the honour of August Heaven
Although our religion agrees in many respects with the
religion of the literati, from which it differs in a slight
degree, yet the main design of it is nothing more than rever­
ence for Heaven, and veneration for ancestors, fidelity to
the prince, and obedience to parents, just that which is in­
culcated in the five human relations, five constant vir­
tues, with the three principal connections of life. It is
to be observed however that people merely know that in the
temple of 'Truth and Purity ceremonies are performed, where
we reverence Heaven, and worship towards no visible object;
but they do not know that the great origin of Eternal Reason
comes from Heaven, and that what has been handed down from of
old to the present day, must not be falsified.
 Although, our religion enjoins worship thus earnestly,
we do not render it merely with the view of securing hap­
piness to ourselves, but seeing that we have received the
favours of the prince, and enjoyed the emoluments conferred
by him, we carry to the utmost our sincerity in worship with
the view of manifesting fidelity to our prince, and grati­
tude to our country. Thus we pray that the Emperor’s
rule may be extended to myriads of years, and that the
imperial dynasty may be firmly established; as long as
heaven and earth endure, may there be favourable winds and
seasonable showers, with mutual enjoyment of tran­
We have engraven these our ideas on the imperishable
marble, that they may be handed down to the latest genera­
Composed by a promoted literary graduate of the Kaifeng
Prefecture named Chin-chung; inscribed by a literary gra­
duate of purchased rank, of the Ksianh-fu district, named
Tsao-tso; and engraven by a literary graduate of purchased
rank of Kaifeng Prefecture, named Fu-ju. Erected on a for­
tunate day in the middle of summer in the 2nd. year of
Hung-chih (1489), in the 46th year of the 70th cycle, by
a disciple of the religion of Truth and Purity.
[bottom] [illegible: [Kaifeng Tablet ] this is written in pen upside-down and backwards so it may be a transfer from another image
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