« AnteriorContinuar »
him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
8 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
ABRIDGMENT OF THE LIVES AND MORAL DISCOURSES OF
CONFUCIUS AND SOCRATES; AND SENECA'S MORALS.
ABRIDGMENT OF THE LIFE AND MORAL PRECEPTS OF
Let others bestrew the hearses of the great with panegyric. When a philosopher dies, I consider myself as losing a patron, an instructor and a friend : I consider the world as losing one who might serve to console her amidst the desolations of war and ambition. Nature seems to have forgotten, for more than three thousand years, the manner in which she once formed the brain of a Confucius.
Goldsmith. 1 THE celebrated Chinese philosopher, Confucius, did not grow in knowledge by degrees, as children usually do, but seemed to arrive at reason and the perfection of his faculties almost from his infancy. He had a grave and serious deportment, which gained him respect, and plainly foretold what he one day would be.
2 What distinguished him most was his unexampled and exalted piety. He honored his relations; he endeavored in all things to imitate his grandfather, who was then alive in China, and a very pious man.
3 One day, when he was a child, he heard his grandsather fetch a deep sigh; and going up to him with much reverence, “may I presume,” says he, “ without losing the respect I owe you, to inquire into the occasion of your grief ? Perhaps you fear that your posterity should degenerate from your virtue, and dishonor you by their vices."
4 What put this thought into your head, says his grandfather to him ? and where have you learnt to speak in this manner? “From yourself,” replied Confucius. “I attend diligently to you every time you speak; and I have often heard you say, that a son, who does not by his own virtue support the glory of his ancestors, and imitate the virtues of his parents, does not deserve to bear their name.
5 At the age of twenty three, when he had gained considerable knowledge of antiquity, and acquainted himself
with the laws and customs of his country, he began to project a scheme for a general reformation; for then all the little kingdoms depended upon the emperor; but it often happened that the imperial authority was not able to keep them within the bounds of their duty, each of the kings being master of his dominions.
6 Confucius, wisely persuaded that the people could never be happy, so long as avarice, ambition, voluptuousness, and false policy should reign in this manner, resolved to preach up a severe morality; and accordingly he began to enforce temperance, justice, and other virtues, to inspire a contempt of riches and outward pomp, to excite to magnanimity and greatness of soul, which should make men incapable of dissimulation and insincerity.
7 He used every mean he could devise, to redeem his countrymen from a life of pleasure to a life of reason. He was every where known, and as much beloved. His extreme knowledge and great wisdom soon made him known: his integrity, and the splendor of his virtues, made him beloved. Kings were governed by his wisdom, and the people reverenced him as a saint.
8 He was offered several high offices in the magistracy, which he sometimes accepted; but never from a motive of ambition, which he was not at all concerned to gratify, but always with a view of reforming a corrupt state, and amending mankind : for he never failed to resign those offices, as soon as he perceived that he could be no longer useful in them.
9 He inculcated fidelity and candor among the men, exhorted the women to chastity and simplicity of manners. By such methods he wrought a general reformation, and established every where such concord and humanity, that the kingdom seemed as it were but one great family.
10 Thus the people, regulated by the wise maxims and precepts of Confucius, enjoyed general happiness, till at length the jealousy of the neighboring kings was excited. They were convinced that a king, under the counsels of such a man as Confucius would soon become too powerful. They contrived a plot to demolish the edifice of wisdom and virtue, which Confucius had erected, by the temptations of dissipation, luxury, vice and sensual pleasures.
11 Conspiracies were formed against his life: to which may be added, that his neglect to his own interests had reduced him to the extremest poverty. Some philosophers
his cotemporaries were so affected with the terrible state of things, that they had rusticated themselves into the mountains and deserts, as the only places where happiness could be found ; and would have persuaded Confucius to have followed them.
12 But “I am a man, says Confucius, and cannot exclude myself from the society of men, and consort with beasts. Bad as the times are, I shall do all that I can to recall men to virtue: for in virtue are all things, and if mankind would but once embrace it, and submit themselves to its discipline, and laws, they would not want me or any body else to instruct them.
13 “ It is the duty of a good man, first to perfect himself, and then to perfect others. Human nature, said he, came to us from heaven pure and perfect; but in process of time ignorance, the passions, and evil examples have corrupted it. All consists in restoring it to its primitive beauty; and to be perfect, we must re-ascend to that point, from which we have fallen. 14 “Obey heaven, and follow the orders of him who gov
Love your neighbor as yourself. Let your reason, and not your senses, be the rule of your conduct; for reason will teach you to think wisely, to speak prudently, and to behave yourself worthily upon all occasions."
15 Confucius, in the mean time, though he had withdrawn himself from kings and palaces, did not cease to travel about, and do what good he could among the people, and among mankind in general. He had often in his moth the maxims and examples of their ancient heroes, so that they were thought to be all revived in the person of this great man. We shall not wonder, therefore, that he proselyted a great number of disciples, who were inviolably attached to his person.
16 He sent six hundred of his disciples into different parts of the empire, to reform the manners of the people; and not satisfied with benefiting his own country only, he made frequent resolutions to pass the seas, and propagate his doctrine to the farthest part of the world. Hardly any thing can be added to the purity of his morality, which he taught as forcibly by example as by precept.
17 Confucius did not trust altogether to the memories of his disciples, for the preservation of his philosophy, but he composed several books: and though these books were greatly admired for the doctrines they contained, and the fine principles of morality they taught, yet such was the unparalleled modesty of this philosopher, that he never assumed the least honor about them.
18 He ingenuously owned, that the doctrine was not his own, but was much more ancient; and that he had done nothing more than collected it from wise legislators who lived fifteen hundred years before him. There are some maxims and moral sentences in his collection, equal to those of the seven wise men of Greece, which have always been so much admired.
NOTE.—The preceding article is derived principally from the Chinese Traveller, which describes some traces of the precepts of Confucius, which are observed in China, at the present time; but are much obscured and adulterated by a “monstrous heap of superstitions, magic, idolatry, and all sorts of ridiculous and extravagant opinions."
ABRIDGMENT OF THE LIFE AND MORAL DISCOURSES OF SO
CRATES, CHIEFLY FROM ROLLIN'S ANCIENT HISTORY, AND XENOPHON'S MEMOIRS.
Character of Socrates.
Of right and wrong he taught
Armstrong 1. SOCRATES was born at Athens, 471 years before the commencement of the Christian era. His father was a sculptor, and he at first learned the same trade himself, in which he be. came very expert. His example, like that of Franklin, the Socrates of America, shows that greatness of mind is not excluded by the hand of nature, from the sons of industry though wherever found, the polish of knowledge is essential to the developement of its inherent beauties.
2 Criton is reported to have taken him out of his father's shop, from the admiration of his fine genius, and the opinion that it was inconsistent for a young man, capable of the great