A Record of the Temple Which Honours the Writing of the Eternal Reason

Author Tenney, Charles Daniel

ms numberms794-010

Persistent Identifier
It has been said that the Sacred Writings are for the purpose of embodying Eternal Reason (Tao), and that Eternal Reason is for the purpose of communicating the Sacred Writ­ ings. What is Eternal Reason? The principle which is in dai­ ly use and constant practice; and which has been generally followed out by men of ancient and modern times. It is present in everything, and the same in all seasons; in fact there is no place in which Eternal Reason does not reside. But Eternal Reason without the Sacred Writings cannot be preserved; and the Sacred Writings without Eternal Reason cannon be carried into action; for men get into confusion, and do not know whither they are going, until they are car­ ried away by foolish schemes and strange devices; hence the doctrines of the Sages have been handed in the six classics, in order to convey the knowledge to future generations, and to extend its benefits to the most distant period.
With respect to the religion of Israel, we find on enquiry that its first ancestor Adam (A-tan) came originally from India (Tien-chuh), and that during the Chow state ^[left]x^(B.C.111-B.C.242) the Sacred Writings were in existence. The Sacred Writings, embodying Eternal Reason, consist of fifty-three sections. The principles therein contained are very abstruse, and the Eternal Reason therein revealed is very mysterious, being treated with the same veneration as Heaven. The founder of this religion is Abraham, who is considered the first teacher of it. Then came Moses who established the Law and handed down the Sacred Writings. After his time, during the Han Dynasty (B.C.200-A.D.226) this religion entered China. In the
In the first year of Lung-hing, of the Sung Dynasty (A.D.1164) a synagogue was built at Pien (Kaifeng). In the 16th year of the Chih-yuen, of the Yuen Dynasty (A.D.1296), the old temple was rebuilt, as a place in which the Sacred Writings might be deposited with veneration.
Those who practice this religion are to be found in other places besides Pien; but wherever they are met with throughout the whole world, they all without exception honour the Sacred Writings, and venerate Eternal Reason. The characters in which the Sacred Writings are penned, differ indeed from those employed in the books of the learn­ ed in China, but if we trace their principles up to their origin, we shall find that they are originally none other than Eternal Reason, which is commonly followed by mankind.
Hence it is that when Eternal Reason is followed by rulers and suggests, rulers will be respectful, and subjects faithful. When Eternal Reason is followed by parents and children, parents will be kind, and children filial. When Eternal Reason is followed by elder and younger brothers, the former will be friendly and the latter reverential. When Eternal Reason is followed by husbands and wives, husb­ ands will be harmonious and wives obedient. When Eternal Reason is followed by friends and companions, then they will severally become faithful and sincere.... In Eternal Reason there is nothing greater than benevolence and rectitude, and in following it out men naturally display the feeling of compassion and a sense of shame. In Eternal Reason there is nothing greater than propriety and wisdom, and in following it out men naturally exhibit the feeling of res­ pect and a sense of rectitude. When Eternal Reason is fol­ lowed in fasting and abstinence, me necessarily feel re­ verential and awe-struck. When Eternal Reason is followed out in
out in sacrificing to ancestors, men necessarily feel filial and sincere. When Eternal Reason is followed in Divine worship, men bless and praise high Heaven, the producer and nourisher of the myriad of things, while in their demeanor and carriage, they consider sincerity and respect as the one thing needful. With respect to widows and orphans, the poor and the destitute, together with the sick and maimed, the deaf and dumb, these must all be relieved and assisted, that they may not utterly fail. When poor men wish to marry and have not the means, or when such wish to inter their relatives and are not able to ac­ complish it, the necessary expenses for such must be duly provided. Only let those who are mourning for their friends carefully avoid rich viands and intoxicating liquors, and those who are conducting funeral ceremonies not be emulous of external pomp. Let them in the first place avoid comply­ ing with superstitious customs; and in the second place not make molten or graven images; but in everything follow the ceremonies that have been introduced from India (Judaism). Let there be no false weights and measures employed in trade, with the view of defrauding others. Looking around us, on the professors of this religion, we find that there are some who strive for literary honours, aiming to axalt their parents and distinguish themselves; there are some who engage in government employ, both at court and in the provinces, seeking to serve their prince and benefit the people; while some defend the country and resist the enemy, thus displaying their patriotism by their faithful conduct. There are others again who in private stations cultivate personal virtue, and diffuse their influence over a whole region; others there are who plough the waste lands, sus­ taining their share of the public burdens; and others who attend
attend the merchanical arts, doing their part towards sup­ porting the state; or who follow mercantile pursuits, and thus gather in profit from every quarter; but all of them should venerate the command of Heaven, obey the royal laws, attend to the five constant virtues, observe the dutien of the human relations, reverently follow the customs of their ancestors, be filial towards their parents, respectful to their superiors, harmonious among their neighbours, and friendly with their associates, teaching their children and descenndants, thus laying up a store of good works, while they repress trifling animosities in order to complete great affairs; the main idea of all the prohibitions and commands consists in attending to three things. This in fact is the great object set forth in the Sacred Writings, and the daily and constant duties inculcated by eternal Reason. Thus the command of Heaven influencing virtuous nature, is by this means carried out to perfection; the religion which inculcates obedience to Eternal Reason is by this means entered upon; and the virtures of benevolance, rectit­ ude, propriety and wisdom, are by this means maintained. Those however, who attempt to represent Him by images, or to depict Him in pictures, do but vainly occupy themselves with empty ceremonies, alarming and stupifying men's eyes and ears, indulging in the speculations of false religionn ists, and showing themselves unowrthy of imitation.
But those who honour and obey the Sacred Writings, know the origin of all things, and that the Eternal Word and the Sacred Writings mutually sustain each other in stating from whence men sprung. From the beginning of the world our first father Adam handed down the doctrine to Abraham; Abraham handed it down to Isaac (I-si-ho-gih); Isaac handed it down to Jacob (Ya-ho-chue-wu); Jacob handed it down to the twelve partiarchs; and the twelve patriarchs
handed it down to Moses; Moses handed it down to Aaron (Ya-ho-lien); Araaon handed it down to Joshua (Yue-shu-wo); and Joshua handed it down to Esra (Yeh-tzi-la); by whom the doctrines of the holy religion were first sent abroad, and the letters of the Jewish (Yu-tai) nation first made plain. All those who profess this religion aim at the practice of goodness and avoid the commission of vice, morning and evening performing their devotions, and with a sincere mind cultivating personal virtues.
They practice fasting and absitnence on the prescribed days, and bring eating and drinking under proper regulations. They make the Sacred Writings their study and their rule, obeying and believing them in every particular; then may they expect that the blessing of Heaven will abundantly descend, and the favour of Providence be unfailingly con­ ferred; every individual obtaining the credit of virtuous conduct, and every family experiencing the happiness of Divine protection. In this way perhaps our professors will not fail of carrying out the religion handed down by their ancestors, nor will they neglect the ceremonies which they are bound to observe.
We have engraved this on a tablet, placed in the synagogue, to be handed down to distant ages,that future generations may carefully consider it.
This tablet was erected by the families Yen, Li, Kao, Chao, Chin, Er, ( ) and Chang, at the rebuilding of the synagogue, in the first month of autumn, in the 7th year of Cheng-teh, of the Ming Dynasty (A.D.1512).
Another stone, practically quite undecipherable, was erected in the 18th year of Kang-hsi (A.D.1679), the ins­ cription at the top reading, "Ssu tang shu gu pai gi", ­ "The
"The record tablet of the Ancestral Temple describing the Ancients" or "The record of the Ancestral Temple nar­ rating (the contents of) the Ancient Tablets".
Another inscription, now disappeared but rubbings of which are extant, was inscribed in the 2nd year of Fang­ hsi (A.D.1663), and is headed, "Record of the rebuilding of the Temple of Purity and Truth".
^[bottom] [illegible: [The Kaifeng Tablet ] ^ This text is written in pen backwards which may indicate that it is a transfer from another sheet