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In the New Testament Gabriel continues to represent God's revelation. It is he who announces the birth of both John the Baptist and of Jesus. There is no figure in Christian tradition which would resemble more closely Wen Ch'ang than Gabriel.

As Kwang Ti, the god of war, was represented to have lived on earth as a man, so Wen Ch'ang, or "scripture glory," is said to have been an ancient Chinese sage, but little is known of the man to whom the Chinese traditions refer.

According to the commentator, "he lived during the Tang dynasty (620-950 A. D.), and his secular name was Chang-O. Yüeh was his native province, but later he moved to Tze. Túng in the district of Shu. We are told that his personality was distinguished by nobility and piety. His writings were clear, luminous, and forcible. He began to exercise a moral power over the people, who unconsciously felt his spirituality. He entered for a while upon an official career, but, not satisfied with the course of politics, he resigned his government position and lived as a saintly recluse. The people of Shu showed great affection for him, and, when he died, built a temple in his honor calling it 'Temple of the Sage of Tze Túng.' People far and near came to offer prayers which were remarkably well responded to by the sage. Everybody, then, said, 'There is in the heavens a star called Wen Ch'ang; the sage [i. e., Chang-O] must have been its incarnation.'"

Our tract bears the name of the god Wen Ch'ang, and accordingly he is regarded as its author, or at least as the divinity who has guided the pen of the man who composed it; but (unless we assume that Chang-O was the author which is not positively impossible) the name of the scribe who made himself the mouthpiece of Wen Ch'ang and who, in human consideration ought to be regarded as its author, is not recorded.

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The date of the Yin Chih Wen can only approximately be determined. It appears that it cannot be older than Chang-O and must not therefore be dated earlier than the time of the Tang dynasty. In the days of Kang-Hi, however, the pamphlet was not only well known, but commented upon and supplied with explanatory stories. Accordingly we cannot stray far from truth when we look upon the Yin Chih Wen as approximately simultaneous with the Kan-Ying P'ien which in many respects it greatly resembles, and so we would say that we should not set the date of its composition much later than about 1600 A. D.

Specialists of Chinese literature will probably be able to ascer

tain the age of the Yin Chih Wen more accurately by pointing out quotations from it in other books whose date of composition is unquestionable.

The original Yin Chih Wen consists (1) of the tract itself which is here translated, (2) of glosses added by commentators, and finally (3) of a great many stories which are similar to the stories of the Kan-Ying P'ien, except that they are more rational and appear to avoid all reference to miracles and superstitious agencies. The book has apparently appealed more to the rationalistic Confucianists or literati, who, while upon the whole agnostic, exhibit at the same time due respect for the officially recognized religions.


We hope that the publication of this book will help Western readers to understand better the Chinese character and especially its undeniable fervor for moral ideals. Though the Chinese mind, especially among the uneducated classes, is filled with superstitious notions, we cannot help granting that the character of their moral maxims ranges very high; and we must confess that among all the nations of the world there is perhaps none other so seriously determined to live up to the highest standard of ethical culture.

An appreciation of the virtues of the Chinese will help Western people to treat them with more consideration, and so we contribute our interpretation of this treatise as a mite towards a better understanding between the East and the West, between the white races of Europe and America and the natives of Asia. We hope that the day will come when the mutual distrust will disappear, and when both in reciprocal appreciation of their natural good qualities, will be anxious to treat each other with fairness and brotherly kindness.

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Our frontispiece is a picture of the great philosopher Lao Tze whom the Taoists call T'ai Shang, The Most Exalted One; or more fully T'ai Shang Lao Chin, i. e., The Most Exalted Ancient Master. The artist represents him with a little square cap usually worn by the common people and dressed, not in silk, but in rough woolen garments; for we know that he practised the simplicity which he preached. But, in contrast to this simple exterior, his countenance indicates a rare depth of thought and his eyes beam with benevolence. We have set above the picture a quotation from his great book, the Tao-Te-King (Chapter 70) which reads:

Shang jan pei hö, hwai yü

"A saint wears wool, but in his bosom are jewels."






VERY man who faces the facts with an unprejudiced mind will admit that the meaning of the idea of "sin," or, in other words, the sum of all that man is in duty bound before God and man to do or to avoid, is entirely the same in Babel as in the Old Testament. And the same agreement may be noted with reference to the consequences of sin.

No sin is hidden from the divine eye, none remains unpunished. The consequence of sin is the wrath of God which acts upon the sinner like a spell and works itself out in punishment of sickness and misery, poverty and persecution, destruction and death.32 The idea common to both Old and New Testaments that sickness and want are the wages of sin is exactly the Babylonian view, and, I might add, it is fortunate that this is the case. For it justifies us to a greater degree in investigating the problem as to whether or not the relation of cause and effect between sickness and sin may still be accepted in the light of later knowledge.

With penitent confession and tearful prayers the devout Babylonian seeks to appease God's wrath and to propitiate the heart of God, while he clings firmly to his confidence in God's fatherly compassion. All the Old Testament prayers from the depths of wretchedness and sin, as Ps. vi. 1, “O Yahveh, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure;" the cry, “O Lord, how long?" all the expressions of longing for freedom from the bondage of sin, and at the same time for an end to illness, misery and persecution, as well as for the bless g of length of

*Translated from the German by Lydia Gillingham Robinson. The beginning of this lecture appeared in the March number of The Open Court. * Ps. xxxviii. 3ff.; lxxxviii. 8 ff.; xc. 7 ff. et passim.

days in order to walk henceforth in righteousness in God's sight; all these professions of firm confidence in divine grace we read in the Babylonian prayers and psalms in varying styles of touching petition.

"O that the heart of the Lord would turn his wrath far from me!
O Lord! my sins are many, great are my transgressions,

O my God, my Goddess, whether known or unknown to me,
Many are my sins and great are my transgressions....

I sought around about, but no one took my hand,
I wept, but there was none came near to comfort.

I cry aloud, but no one gives me ear,

Sorrowful, and overwhelmed, I can not look up.

Unto my compassionate God make I 'mid sighs my petition,
The feet of my Goddess I kiss and embrace (?) them.
O Lord, cause not thy servant to fall

Who lies in the pool of the mire33—help him up!
The sins that I have committed, turn into mercies,

The misdeeds I have done, let the wind bear away,
My many wickednesses tear in pieces like a garment!

Yea, pardon all my misdemeanors, and I'll obey thy sovereign


Incline towards me thy heart, like the heart of a mother,

Like a mother's or father's heart, incline Thou to me."

It goes without saying that in the Babylonian penitential psalms and prayers for the forgiveness, washing away, putting aside or saving from sin, the meaning of the prayer was first of all that the spell be broken and disappear, and that sickness, misfortune, misery and death, be driven from the body and from the house of the supplicant. Had it been otherwise the Babylonians would not have been human. But he grossly deceives himself and others who would maintain that Israel had a deeper, yea "infinitely deeper," conception of the nature of sin. If perchance it is held that the Babylonians experienced a deep conviction of sin simply on account of its outward consequences, this would gainsay the oft reiterated lamentations of the devout Babylonian which mention always the sufferings of the sin-sick soul as well as material hardships. Whence it appears that the Babylonian religion developed an especially tender and devout view as to man's faith concerning his relation to God, and the disruption of that relation by sin.

Every human being, the king no less than every other mortal, is the "child of his God." His God to whom he owes his life, has

This is Dr. Delitzsch's rendering, "Im Wasser des Schlammes liegend," but Dr. Jastrow in The History of Religions interprets the same line as "overflowing with tears," explaining in a footnote that the literal meaning is "rushing water." (Tr.)

at the same time entered his being as his good spirit, guiding and protecting him. No more terrible blow can befall a human beingmore terrible even than sickness and pain-than when because of his misdeeds his God (or in the case of the daughters of men, Goddess) departs from him and takes up an abode elsewhere. Such a literal abandonment by God and the resultant spiritual pangs are looked upon by the Babylonians as sin's most dreadful curse.

The sinner is dependant solely upon the grace of God, not only because in spite of rigorous self-examination he is often totally unaware of the sin he must confess, but because God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and sometimes man thinks objectionable what is pleasing in God's sight, and vice versa. As appears in IV R 10, 34b, "No one knows whether he is doing well (udammik) or ill (ukallil)". But the Babylonian lives in the firm assurance of faith, that

"Fear of God-begets grace,
Sacrifice-strengthens life,

And prayer-redeems from sin."35

Yes, the divinities are gracious and merciful, and gladly turn again to the repentant sinner. And this is especially true of Marduk whose favorite attribute is to awaken the dead, to revive anew the victims of death, and who is entirely devoted to deeds of mercy. The physician of both man's body and soul, he is one of the brightest and noblest figures of the Babylonian pantheon. But all the other great gods are also looked upon as moral powers. The god Shamash, the sun-god, is called the "King of Justice." He is the righteous and incorruptible judge whose eye penetrates into the most hidden depths, and as it is said of Yahveh (Ps. lxxxv. 13): "Righteousness shall go before him and shall set us in the way of his steps",30 or (Ps. xcvii. 2) "Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne," so at all times the divinities "Judgment" and "Righteousness" stand before the Babylonian sun-god (comp. Ps. lxxxix. 15). And what a noble and lofty idea must have been connected with Marduk's son Nebo that he should have been designated and worshiped as the "Light of Truth."

It is very clear from the above that the Babylonian gods, too, were living powers. In regard to this point we must learn all over again from the beginning. The Old Testament's mocking descrip

"Cf. IV R 60*.

5 K. 7897. Z. 20-22.

"The emendation from vayashem (Ps. lxxxv, 13) to vayashar (parallel Tsedek) is required by the context.

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