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周書 多士 Zhou Shu - Numerous Officers

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In the third month, at the commencement (of the government) of the duke of Zhou in the new city of Luo, he announced (the royal will) to the officers of the Shang dynasty, saying:


'The king speaks to this effect: "Ye numerous officers who remain from the dynasty of Yin, great ruin came down on Yin from the cessation of forbearance in compassionate Heaven, and we, the lords of Zhou, received its favouring decree. We felt charged with its bright terrors, carried out the punishments which kings inflict, rightly disposed of the appointment of Yin, and finished (the work of) God. Now, ye numerous officers, it was not our small state that dared to aim at the appointment belonging to Yin. But Heaven was not with (Yin), for indeed it would not strengthen its misrule. It (therefore) helped us; did we dare to seek the throne of ourselves? God was not for (Yin), as appeared from the mind and conduct of our inferior people, in which there is the brilliant dreadfulness of Heaven."'


'I have heard the saying, "God leads men to tranquil security," but the sovereign of Xia would not move to such security, whereupon God sent down corrections, indicating his mind to him. (Jie), however, would not be warned by God, but proceeded to greater dissoluteness and sloth and excuses for himself. Then Heaven no longer regarded nor heard him, but disallowed his great appointment, and inflicted extreme punishment. Then it charged your founder, Tang the Successful, to set Xia aside, and by means of able men to rule the kingdom. From Tang the Successful down to Di-Yi, every sovereign sought to make his virtue illustrious, and duly attended to the sacrifices. And thus it was that, while Heaven exerted a great establishing influence, preserving and regulating the House of Yin, its sovereigns on their part were humbly careful not to lose (the favour of) God, and strove to manifest a good-doing corresponding to that of Heaven. But in these times, their successor showed himself greatly ignorant of (the ways of) Heaven, and much less could it be expected of him that he would be regardful of the earnest labours of his fathers for the country. Greatly abandoned to dissolute idleness, he gave no thought to the bright principles of Heaven, and the awfulness of the people. On this account God no longer protected him, but sent down the great ruin which we have witnessed. Heaven was not with him, because he did not make his virtue illustrious. (Indeed), with regard to the overthrow of all states, great and small, throughout the four quarters of the kingdom, in every case reasons can be given for their punishment.'


The king speaks to this effect: "Ye numerous officers of Yin, the case now is this, that the kings of our Zhou, from their great goodness, were charged with the work of God. There was the charge to them, 'Cut off Yin.' (They proceeded to perform it), and announced the execution of their service to God. In our affairs we have followed no double aims; ye of the royal House (of Yin) must (now simply) follow us. May I not say that you have been very lawless? I did not (want to) remove you. The thing came from your own city. When I consider also how Heaven has drawn near to Yin with so great tribulations, it must be that there was (there) what was not right."


'The king says, "Ho! I declare to you, ye numerous officers, it is simply on account of these things that I have removed you and settled you here in the west; it was not that I, the One man, considered it a part of my virtue to interfere with your tranquillity. The thing was from Heaven; do not offer resistance; I shall not presume to have any subsequent (charge concerning you); do not murmur against me.


'Ye know that your fathers of the Yin dynasty had their archives and statutes, (showing how) Yin superseded the appointment of Xia. Now, indeed, ye say further, '(The officers of) Xia were chosen and employed in the royal court (of Shang), and had their duties among the mass of its officers.' (But) I, the One man, listen only to the virtuous, and employ them; and it was with this view that I ventured to seek you in your capital of Shang (once sanctioned by) Heaven, (and removed you here to Luo.) I thereby follow (the ancient example), and have pity on you. (Your present non-employment) is no fault of mine - it is by the decree of Heaven."


'The king says, "Ye numerous officers, formerly, when I came from Yan, I greatly mitigated the penalty and spared the lives of the people of your four states. At the same time I made evident the punishment appointed by Heaven, and removed you to this distant abode, that you might be near the ministers who had served in our honoured (capital), and (learn) their much obedience."


'The king says, "I declare to you, ye numerous officers of Yin, now I have not put you to death, and therefore I reiterate the declaration of my charge. I have now built this great city here in Luo, considering that there was no (central) place in which to receive my guests from the four quarters, and also that you, ye numerous officers, might here with zealous activity perform the part of ministers to us, with the entire obedience (ye would learn). Ye have still here, I may say, your grounds, and May still rest in your duties and dwellings. If you can reverently obey, Heaven will favour and compassionate you. If you do not reverently obey, you shall not only not have your lands, but I will also carry to the utmost Heaven's inflictions on your persons. Now you may here dwell in your villages, and perpetuate your families; you may pursue your occupations and enjoy your years in this Luo; your children also will prosper; (all) from your being removed here."


The king says: 'And again he says, "Whatever I may now have spoken is on account of (my anxiety about) your residence here."'

English translation: James Legge

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