Click on any word to see more details.周公若曰：「君奭！弗吊，天降喪于殷，殷既墜厥命，我有周既受。我不敢知曰，厥基永孚于休；若天棐忱，我亦不敢知曰，其終出于不祥。嗚呼！君！已曰時我，我亦不敢寧于上帝命，弗永遠念天威，越我民；罔尤違，惟人在。我後嗣子孫，大弗克恭上下，遏佚前人光在家；不知天命不易、天難諶，乃其墜命，弗克經歷嗣前人恭明德。在今予小子旦，非克有正，迪惟前人光，施于我沖子。」又曰：「天不可信，我道惟寧王德延，天不庸釋于文王受命。」
The duke of Zhou spoke to the following effect: 'Prince Shi, Heaven, unpitying, sent down ruin on Yin. Yin has lost its appointment (to the throne), which our House of Zhou has received. I do not dare, however, to say, as if I knew it, "The foundation will ever truly abide in prosperity. If Heaven aid sincerity,"Nor do I dare to say, as if I knew it, "The end will issue in our misfortunes." Oh! you have said, O prince, "It depends on ourselves." I also do not dare to rest in the favour of God, not forecasting at a distance the terrors of Heaven in the present time, when there is no murmuring or disobedience among the people; (the issue) is with men. Should our present successor to his fathers prove greatly unable to reverence (Heaven) above and (the people) below, and so bring to an end the glory of his predecessors, could we in (the retirement of) our families be ignorant of it? The favour of Heaven is not easily preserved; Heaven is difficult to be depended on. Men lose its favouring appointment, because they cannot pursue and carry out the reverence and brilliant virtue of their forefathers. Now I, Dan, the little child, am not able to make (the king) correct. I would simply conduct him to the glory of his fathers, and make him, who is my young charge, partaker of that.' He also said, 'Heaven is not to be trusted. Our course is only to seek the prolongation of the virtue of the Tranquillizing king, that Heaven may not find occasion to remove its favouring decree which king Wen received.'
The duke said, 'Prince Shi, I have heard that aforetime, when Tang the successful had received the appointment (to the throne), he had with him Yi Yin, making (his virtue) like that of great Heaven; that Tai Jia had (the same Yi Yin), the Bao-heng; that Tai-wu had Yi Zhi and Chen Hu, through whom (his virtue) was made to affect God, and Wu Xian who regulated the royal House; that Zu-yi had Wu Xian's son; and that Wu-ding had Gan Pan. (These ministers) carried out (their principles), and displayed (their merit), preserving and regulating the dynasty of Yin, so that, while its ceremonies lasted, (those sovereigns), when deceased, were assessors to Heaven, and its duration extended over many years. Heaven thus determinately maintained its favouring appointment, and Shang was replenished with men. The various heads of great surnames and members of the royal House, holding employments, all held fast their virtue, and showed an anxious solicitude (for the kingdom). The smaller ministers, and the guardian princes in the Hou and Dian domains, hurried about on their services. Thus did they all exert their virtue and aid their sovereign, so that whatever affairs he, the One man, had in hand, throughout the land, an entire faith was reposed in their justice as in the indications of the shell or the divining stalks.'
The duke said, 'Prince Shi, Heaven gives length of days to the just and the intelligent; (it was thus that those ministers) maintained and regulated the dynasty of Yin. He who came last to the throne granted by Heaven was extinguished by its terrors. Do you think of the distant future, and we shall have the decree (in favour of Zhou) made sure, and its good government will be, brilliantly exhibited in our newly-founded state.'
The duke said, 'Prince Shi, aforetime when God was inflicting calamity (on Yin), he encouraged anew the virtue of the Tranquillizing king, till at last the great favouring decree was concentrated in his person. (But) that king Wen was able to conciliate and unite the portion of the great kingdom which we came to possess, was owing to his having (such ministers) as his brother of Kuo, Hong Yao, San Yi-sheng, Tai Dian, and Nan-gong Kuo.'
He said further, 'But for the ability of those men to go and come in his affairs, developing his constant lessons, there would have been no benefits descending from king Wen on the people. And it also was from the determinate favour of Heaven that there were these men of firm virtue, and acting according to their knowledge of the dread majesty of Heaven, to give themselves to enlighten king Wen, and lead him forward to his high distinction and universal rule, till his fame, reached the ears of God, and he received the appointment that had been Yin's. There were still four of those men who led on king Wu to the possession of the revenues of the kingdom, and afterwards, along with him, in great reverence of the majesty of Heaven, slew all his enemies. These four men, moreover, made king Wu so illustrious that his glory overspread the kingdom, and (the people) universally and greatly proclaimed his virtue. Now with me Dan, the little child, it is as if I were floating on a great stream; With you, O Shi, let me from this time endeavour to cross it. Our young sovereign is (powerless), as if he had not yet ascended the throne. You must by no means lay the whole burden on me; and if you draw yourself up without an effort to supply my deficiencies, no good will flow to the people from our age and experience. We shall not hear the voices of the phoenixes, and how much less can it be thought that we shall be able to make (the king's virtue) equal (to Heaven)!
The duke said, 'Oh! consider well these things, O prince. We have received the appointment to which belongs an unlimited amount of blessing, but having great difficulties attached to it. What I announce to you are counsels of a generous largeness. I cannot allow the successor of our kings to go astray.'
The duke said, 'The former king laid bare his heart, and gave full charge to you, constituting you one of the guides and patterns for the people, saying, "Do you with intelligence and energy second and help the king; do you with sincerity support and convey forward the great decree. Think of the virtue of king Wen, and enter greatly into his boundless anxieties." '
The duke said, 'What I tell you, O prince, are my sincere. thoughts. O Shi, the Grand-Protector, if you can but reverently survey with me the decay and great disorders of Yin, and thence consider the dread majesty of Heaven (which warns) us! Am I not to be believed that I must reiterate my words? I simply say, "The establishment (of our dynasty) rests with us two." Do you agree with me? Then you (also) will say, "It rests with us two." And the favour of Heaven has come to us so largely: it should be ours to feel as if we could not sufficiently respond to it. If you can but reverently cultivate your virtue (now), and bring to light our men of eminent ability, then when you resign (your position) to some successor in a time of established security, (I will interpose no objection.)
'Oh! it is by the earnest service of us two that we have come to the prosperity of the present day. We must both go on, abjuring all idleness, to complete the work of king Wen, till it has grandly overspread the kingdom, and from the corners of the sea, and the sunrising, there shall not be one who is disobedient to the rule (of Zhou).'
The duke said, 'O prince, have I not spoken in accordance with reason in these many declarations? I am only influenced by anxiety about (the appointment of) Heaven, and about the people.'
The duke said, 'Oh! you know, O prince, the ways of the people, how at the beginning they can be (all we could desire); but it is the end (that is to be thought of). Act in careful accordance with this fact. Go and reverently exercise the duties of your office.'
English translation: James Legge
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