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商書 湯誥 Shang Shu - Announcement of Tang

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When the king returned from vanquishing Xia and came to Bo, he made a grand announcement to the myriad regions.
The king said, 'Ah! ye multitudes of the myriad regions, listen clearly to the announcement of me, the One man. The great God has conferred (even) on the inferior people a moral sense, compliance with which would show their nature invariably right. To make them tranquilly pursue the course which it would indicate is the work of the sovereign.
The king of Xia extinguished his virtue, and played the tyrant, extending his oppression over you, the people of the myriad regions. Suffering from his cruel injuries, and unable to endure the wormwood and poison, you protested with one accord your innocence to the spirits of heaven and earth." The way of Heaven is to bless the good, and make the bad miserable. It sent down calamities on (the House of) Xia, to make manifest its guilt. Therefore I, the little child, charged with the decree of Heaven and its bright terrors, did not dare to forgive (the criminal). I presumed to use a dark-coloured victim-bull, and, making clear announcement to the Spiritual Sovereign in the high heavens, requested leave to deal with the ruler of Xia as a criminal. Then I sought for the great Sage, with whom I might unite my strength, to request the favour (of Heaven) for you, my multitudes. High Heaven truly showed its favour to the inferior people, and the criminal has been degraded and subjected. What Heaven appoints is without error; brilliantly (now), like the blossoming of plants and trees, the millions of the people show a true reviving.
It is given to me, the One man, to secure the harmony and tranquillity of your states and clans and now I know not whether I may not offend against (the Powers) above and below. I am fearful and trembling, as if I were in danger of falling into a deep abyss. Throughout all the regions that enter on a new life under me, do not, (ye princes), follow lawless ways; make no approach to insolence and dissoluteness; let every one be careful to keep his statutes - that so we may receive the favour of Heaven. The good in you I will not dare to keep concealed; and for the evil in me I will not dare to forgive myself. I will examine these things in harmony with the mind of God. When guilt is found anywhere in you who occupy the myriad regions, let it rest on me, the One man. When guilt is found in me, the One man, it shall not attach to you who occupy the myriad regions. Oh! let us attain to be sincere in these things, and so we shall likewise have a (happy) consummation.'


English translation: James Legge

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