IT was stated in the Introduction, p. 278, that the poems in the fourth Part of the Shih are the only ones that are professedly religious; and there are some even of them, it will be seen, which have little claim on internal grounds to be so considered.
I commence with them my selections from the Shih for the Sacred Books of the Religions of the East. I will give them all, excepting the first two of the Praise Odes of Lû, the reason for omitting which will be found. when I come to that division of the Part.
The ancestral worship of the common people.
The Odes of the Temple and the Altar are, most of them, connected with the ancestral worship of the sovereigns of the Shang and Kâu dynasties, and of the marquises of Lû. Of the ancestral worship of the common people we have almost no information in the Shih. It was binding, however, on all, and two utterances of Confucius may be given in illustration of this. In the eighteenth chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean, telling how the duke of Kâu, the legislator of the dynasty so called, had 'completed the virtuous course of Wăn and Wû, carrying up the title of king to Wăn's father and grandfather, and sacrificing to the dukes before them with the royal ceremonies,' he adds, And this rule he extended to the feudal princes, the great officers, the other officers, and the common people. In the mourning and other duties rendered to a deceased father or mother, he allowed no difference between the noble and the mean. Again, his summary in the tenth chapter of the Hsiâo King, of the duties
of filial piety, is the following:--'A filial son, in serving his parents, in his ordinary intercourse with them, should show the utmost respect; in supplying them with food, the greatest delight; when they are ill, the utmost solicitude; when mourning for their death, the deepest grief; and when sacrificing to them, the profoundest solemnity. When these things are all complete, he is able to serve his parents.'
The royal worship of ancestors.
Of the ceremonies in the royal worship of ancestors, and perhaps on some other occasions, we have much information in the pieces of this Part, and in many others in the second and third Parts. They were preceded by fasting and various purifications on the part of the king and the parties who were to assist in the performance of them. The was a great concourse of the feudal princes, and much importance was attached to the presence among them of the representatives of former dynasties; but the duties of the occasion devolved mainly on the princes of the same surname as the royal House. Libations of fragrant spirits were made, especially in the Kâu period, to attract the Spirits, and their presence was invoked by a functionary who took his place inside the principal gate. The principal victim, a red bull in the temple of Kâu, was killed by the king himself, using for the purpose a knife to the handle of which small bells were attached. With this he laid bare the hair, to show that the animal was of the required colour, inflicted the wound of death, and cut away the fat, which was burned along with southernwood to increase the incense and fragrance. Other victims were numerous, and the fifth ode of the second decade, Part II, describes all engaged in the service as greatly exhausted with what they had to do, flaying the carcases, boiling the flesh, roasting it, broiling it, arranging it on trays and stands, and setting it forth. Ladies from the palace are present to give their assistance; music peals; the cup goes round. The description is that of a feast as much as of a sacrifice; and in fact, those great seasonal occasions were what we might call grand family reunions, where the dead and the living met, eating and drinking together, where the living worshipped the dead, and the dead blessed the living.
This characteristic of these ceremonies appeared most strikingly in the custom which required that the departed ancestors should be represented by living relatives of the same surname, chosen according to certain rules that are not mentioned in the Shih. These took for the time the place of the dead, received the
honours which were due to them, and were supposed to be possessed by their spirits. They ate and drank as those whom they personated would have done; accepted for them the homage rendered by their descendants; communicated their will to the principal in the service, and pronounced on him and on his line their benediction, being assisted in this point by a mediating priest, as we may call him for want of a more exact term. On the next day, after a summary repetition of the ceremonies of the sacrifice, those personators of the dead were specially feasted, and, as it is expressed in the second decade of Part III, ode 4, 'their happiness and dignity were made complete.' We have an allusion to this strange custom in Mencius (VI, i, ch. 5), showing how a junior member of a family, when chosen to represent one of his ancestors, was for the time exalted above his elders, and received the demonstrations of reverence due to the ancestor.
When the sacrifice to ancestors was finished, the king feasted his uncles and younger brothers or cousins, that is, all the princes and nobles of the same surname with himself, in another apartment. The musicians who had discoursed with instrument and voice during the worship and entertainment of the ancestors, followed the convivial party 'to give their soothing aid at the second blessing.' The viands that had been provided, we have seen, in great abundance, were brought in from the temple, and set forth anew. The guests ate to the full and drank to the full, and at the conclusion they all did obeisance, while one of them declared the satisfaction of the Spirits, and assured the king of their favour to him and his posterity, so long as they did not neglect those observances. During the feast the king showed particular respect to those among his relatives who were aged filled their cups again and again, and desired 'that their old age might be blessed, and their bright happiness ever increased.'
The above sketch of the seasonal sacrifices to ancestors shows that they were intimately related to the duty of filial piety, and were designed mainly to maintain the unity of the family connexion. There was implied in them a belief in the continued existence of the spirits of the departed; and by means of them the ancestors of the kings were raised to the position of the Tutelary spirits of the dynasty; and the ancestors of each family became its Tutelary spirits. Several of the pieces in Part IV are appropriate, it will be observed, to sacrifices offered to some
one monarch. They would be used on particular occasions connected with his achievements in the past, or when it was supposed that his help would be valuable in contemplated enterprises. With regard to all the ceremonies of the ancestral temple, Confucius gives the following account of the purposes which they were intended to serve, hardly adverting to their religious significance, in the nineteenth chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean:--'By means of them they distinguished the royal kindred according to their order of descent. By arranging those present according to their rank, they distinguished the more noble and the less. By the apportioning of duties at them, they made a distinction of talents and worth. In the ceremony of general pledging, the inferiors presented the cup to their superiors, and thus something was given to the lowest to do. At the (concluding) feast places were given according to the hair, and thus was marked the distinction of years.'
The worship paid to God.
The Shih does not speak of the worship which was paid to God, unless it be incidentally. There were two grand occasions on which it was rendered by the sovereign,--the summer and winter solstices. These two sacrifices were offered on different altars, that in winter being often described as offered to Heaven, and that in summer to Earth; but we have the testimony of Confucius, in the nineteenth chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean, that the object of them both was to serve Shang-Tî. Of the ceremonies on these two occasions, however, I do not speak here, as there is nothing said about them in the Shih. But there were other sacrifices to God, at stated periods in the course of the year, of at least two of which we have some intimation in the pieces of this fourth Part. The last in the first decade of the Sacrificial Odes of Kâu is addressed to Hâu Kî as having proved himself the correlate of Heaven, in teaching men to cultivate the grain which God had appointed for the nourishment of all. This was appropriate to a sacrifice in spring, offered to God to seek His blessing on the agricultural labours of the year, Hâu Kî, as the ancestor of the House of Kâu, being associated with Him in it. The seventh piece of the same decade again was appropriate to a sacrifice to God in autumn, in the Hall of Light, at a great audience to the feudal princes, when king Wăn was associated with Him as being the founder of the dynasty of Kâu.
With these preliminary observations to assist the reader in understanding the pieces in this Part, I proceed to give--