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ARRIVAL OF NESTORIANS IN CHINA. 291
litan sees of Sina and Samarcand, though some say they were constituted by Achaeus and Silas.” This Silas was patriarch of the Nestorians from A. D. 505 to 520, and it is highly probable the two monks who brought the silkworm's eggs were also Nestorians. The metropolitan bishop of Sina is also mentioned in a list of those subject to this patriarch, published by Amro, and it is placed in the list after that of India, according to the priority of foundation. The only record yet found in China itself of the labors of the Nestorians is the celebrated monument, which was discovered at Singan fu in Shensi, in 1625; and though the discussion regarding its authenticity has been rather warm between the Jesuits and their opponents, the weight of evidence, both internal and external, regarding its verity, leaves no doubt. It has been recently carefully translated from the original by Dr. Bridgman, and published in parallel columns with the original, and a Latin and French version ; the three versions differ among themselves, and Dr. Bridgman remarks in relation to this discrepancy, “that were a hundred Chinese students employed on the document, they would probably each give a different view of the meaning in some parts of the inscription.” This remarkable inscription is here inserted, with a few of the translator's notes.
A TABLET scow MEMORATING] THE DIFFUSION OF THE ILLUSTRIOUS RELIGION OF TA-TSIN IN CHINA.
A stone tablet commemorating the diffusion of the illustrious religion in China, with a preface, written by King Tsing, a priest from the Church in Ta-Tsin [or Judea].
Now verily, the unchangeably true and recondite, the eternal Cause of causes, the far-seeing and purely spiritual, the never ending and incomprehensible Being, who grasping the poles created the universe, and being more excellent than the holy ones, is the supremely honorable. This is our mysterious Trinity, the true eternal Lord Jehovah! He, determining, in the form of the cross,” to establish the four quarters of the earth, moved the primeval Spirit, and produced all things visible and invisible. The dark expanse was changed, and heaven and earth were unfolded. The sun and moon revolved, and day and night began.
As an architect, having finished the universe, he created the firman; endowed him with goodness and benignity; and command
"That is, he determined to spread out the earth in the shape o
to rule the world. His original nature was entirely pure and unsullied; and his simple and uncorrupted heart was wholly free from inordinate desires. But at length Satan, by exercising dissimulation, and by throwing a gilded covering over that pure and uncorrupted nature, took away equity and greatness from the centre of good, and insinuated evil and darkness in their stead. Hence arose a multiplicity of sects, following each other in close succession, striving to weave their legal nets: some substituted the creature for the Creator; some considered being as nothing, sinking all things in oblivion; and some, in order to gain felicity, made prayers and offered sacrifices. Others deceived mankind with a show of goodness. With wisdom and solicitude they labored hard ; and their anxieties and cares were unceasing. They were bewildered and obtained nothing. Heated and scorched, they writhed in anguish. They accumulated darkness, and lost their way; and, being misguided, they were irrecoverably lost. Thereupon our Trinity set apart the illustrious and adorable Messiah; who, laying aside his true dignity, came into the world as man. Angels proclaimed the joyful tidings. A virgin gave birth to the holy child in Judea. A bright star proclaimed the happy event. Persians, seeing its brightness, came with presents. He fulfilled the ancient laws, given by the twenty-four holy ones.” He ruled families and nations with great virtue. He instituted the new doctrine of the Trinity, pure, spiritual, and inexplicable. Like a potter he formed good usages by the true faith. He established the measure of the eight boundaries. He purged away the dross, and perfected the truth. He opened the gate of the three constant virtues, revealing life and destroying death. He suspended the bright sun to break open the abodes of darkness, and thereby the wiles of the devil were frustrated. He put in motion the ship of mercy, to ascend to the mansions of light, and thereby succor was brought to confined spirits. His mighty work thus finished, at mid-day he ascended to his true estate. Twenty-seven books remained. He set forth original conversion for the soul's deliverance; and he instituted the baptism of water and of the Spirit, to wash away the vanity of life and to cleanse and purify [the heart]. Taking the cross as a sign, [his disciples] unite together the people of all regions without distinction. They beat the wood, sounding out the voice of benevolence and mercy. In evangelizing the east, they take the way of life and glory. They preserve their beard for outward effect.
* The “holy ones” denote the writers of the books of the Old Testament.
f The “eight boundaries” are inexplicable; some refer them to the beatitudes.
f The “three constant virtues” may perhaps mean faith, hope, and charity.
NESTORIAN INSCRIPTION. 293
They shave the crown of the head, to indicate the absence of passion. They keep no slaves, but place upon an equality the high and low. They do not hoard goods and riches, but bestow them on the destitute. They practise abstinence in order to increase their knowledge. They watch, in order to maintain quiet and circumspection. Seven times a day they offer praises to the great advantage of both the living and the dead. Once in seven days they have divine service, in order to cleanse their hearts, and to regain their purity. The true and constant doctrine is mysterious, and difficult to be characterized. Anxious to make it clear and manifest, we can only name it the ILLUSTRIOUS INSTRUCTION. Now without holy ones, religion cannot be propagated; nor without religion, can holy ones become great. But when the two are united, the whole world will be civilized and enlightened. In the reign of the civil emperor Taitsung, the illustrious and holy enlarger [of the Tang dynasty], there was in Judea a man of superior virtue, called Olopun, who, guided by the azure clouds, bearing the true Scriptures, and observing the laws of the winds, made his way through dangers and difficulties. In the year A. D. 636 he arrived at Chang-ngan. The emperor instructed his minister, duke Tang Hiuenling, to take the imperial sceptre and go out to the western suburbs, receive the guest, and conduct him into the palace. The Scriptures were translated in the library of the palace. The emperor, in his private apartments, made inquiry regarding the religion; and fully satisfied that it was correct and true, he gave special commands for its promulgation. The document, bearing date, Chingkwan (the reigning style of Taitsung), 12th year, 7th month (August, A. D. 639), runs thus: “Religion is without an invariable name. Saints are without any permanent body. In whatever region they are, they give instruction, and prirately succor the living multitudes. Olopun, a man of great virtue, belonging to the kingdom of Judea, bringing the Scriptures and images from afar, has come and presented them at our capital. On earamin’ng the meaning of his instruction, it is found to be pure, mysterious, and separate from the world. On observing its origin, it is seen to have been instituted as that which is essential to mankind. Its language is simple, its reasonings are attractire, and to the human race it is beneficial. As is right, let it be promulgated throughout the empire. Let the appropriate Board build a Judean church in the Righteous and Holy street of the capital, and appoint thereto twenty-one priests.” The power of the illustrious Chau dynasty having fallen, the green car having ascended westward, the religion of the great Tang family became resplendent, and the illustrious spirit found its way eastward. The appropriate officers were instructed to take a faithful likeness of the emperor, and place it on the wall of the temple. The celestial figure
shone in its bright colors, and its lustre irradiated the illustrious portals. The sacred lineaments spread felicity all around, and perpetually illuminated the indoctrinated regions. According to the maps and records of the western nations, and the histories of the Han and Wei dynasties, Judea is bounded on the south by the Coral sea; on the north by the Shu-pau hills; on the west it stretches towards the flowery forests, and the regions of the immortals; and on the east it is conterminous with the Dead sea of perpetual winds. The country produces cloth that is proof against fire, a balm that restores life, bright lunar pearls, and night-shining gems. Theft and robbery do not exist. The people have joy and peace. None but illustrious laws prevail. None but the virtuous are placed in the magistracy. The country is extensive, and its literature and productions are flourishing. The emperor Kautsung honored and perpetuated [the memory of] his ancestors. He supported the truth they inculcated, and built churches in all the departments of the empire. He raised Olopun to the rank of high priest and national protector. The law spread in every direction. The wealth of the state was boundless. Churches filled all the cities; and the families were rich, illustrious, and happy. In the year A. D. 699, the followers of Budha raised a persecution, and argued against the eastern Chau family. At the close of the year A. D. 713, some base scholars raised ridicule, and in Síkau spread abroad slanderous reports. But there were chief' priests, Lohan, Tai-teh, Lieh, and others, honorable descendants of those from the west, distinguished and elevated in character, who unitedly maintained the original doctrines, and prevented their subversion. Hiuentsung, the most righteous emperor, commanded five kings, Ningkwoh and others, to go in person to the church of Felicity, build up the altars, restore the fallen timbers, and replace the dilapidated stones. Tienpau, in the commencement of his reign, A. D. 742, commanded his general Kau-lih-sz' to take the portraits of the five sacred ones, and place them in the church, and also to present one hundred pieces of silk, to give éclat to the same. Though their august persons are remote, their bows and their swords can be handled. The horns of the sun send forth their light; and the celestial visages seem to be present.* In the third year of Tienpau's reign, there was a priest, Kihhoh from Judea, who, observing the star, sought renovation: and, seeking the sun, came to the honored one. His majesty commanded the priests, Lohan, Pu-lun, and others, seven in ail, with the eminently virtuous Kihhoh, to
* These personages are the first five emperors of the Tang dynasty, Hiuen-tsung's predecessors. Their portraits were so admirably painted that they seemed to be present, their arms could almost be handled, and their foreheads, or “horns of the sun,” radiated their intelligence.
NESTORIAN INSCRIPTION. 395
perform divine service in the church of Rising Felicity. Then the celestial writing appeared on the walls of the church, and the imperial inscriptions upon the tablets. The precious ornaments shone brightly. The refulgent clouds were dazzling. The intelligent edicts filled the wide expanse, and their glory rose above the light of the sun. The bounteous gifts are comparable to the lofty mountains of the south : the rich benevolences deeper than the eastern seas. The righteous do only what is right, and that which is fit to be named. The holy ones can do all things, and that which they do is fit to be commemorated : The emperor Suhtsung, learned and illustrious, in five departments of the empire, Lingwu, &c., rebuilt the churches of the illustrious religion. The original benefits were increased, and joyous fortune began. Great felicity descended, and the imperial patrimony was established. The civil and martial emperor Taitsung enlarged the sacred domains, and ruled without effort. On the return of his natal day, he gave celestial incense to celebrate the meritorious deeds of his government; and he distributed provisions from the imperial table, in order to give honor to those in the churches. As heaven confers its gifts, and sheds bounties on the living; so the sovereign, comprehending right principles, rules the world in equity. Our emperor Kienchung, holy, divine, civil, and martial, arranged his form of government so as to abase the wicked and exalt the good. He unfolded the dual system so as to give great lustre to the imperial decrees. In the work of renovation, he made known the mysteries of reason. In his adorations, he felt no shame of heart. In all his duties, he was great and good. He was pure, and unbiassed, and forgiving. He extended abroad his kindness, and rescued all from calamities. Living multitudes enjoyed his favors. [The emperor says], “We strive to cultivate the great virtues, and to advance step by step.” If the winds and the rains come in their season, the world will be at rest; men will act rightly; things will keep in their order; the living will have affluence, and the dead joy. Considering life's responses, and prompted by sincere feelings of regard, I, King, have endeavored to effect these worthy ends,-the great benefactors, their excellencies of the Kwangluh Kintsz', the tsieh-tu fu-shi of the north, and the Shi-tien chungkien having conferred on me rich robes.” The kind and courteous priest Isaac having thoroughly studied this religion, came to China from the city of the king's palace. His science surpassed that of the three dynasties (i. e. the Hia, Shang, and Chau); and he was perfect in the arts. From the first he labored at court, and his name was enrolled in the royal pavilion. The secretary, duke Kwoh Tsz'-1, raised to royalty from the magistracy
* These officers are not now known, but all of them seem to be chamberlains, and other palatial dignitaries.