Beacon Lights of History, Volume 01 eBook

John Lord
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about Beacon Lights of History, Volume 01.

Rawlinson’s Religions of the Ancient World; Grote’s History of Greece;
Thirlwall’s History of Greece; Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey; Max Mueller’s
Chips from a German Workshop; Curtius’s History of Greece; Mr.
Gladstone’s Homer and the Homeric Age; Rawlinson’s Herodotus;
Doellinger’s Jew and Gentile; Fenton’s Lectures on Ancient and Modern
Greece; Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Mythology; Clarke’s Ten
Great Religions; Dwight’s Mythology; Saint Augustine’s City of God.



550-478 B.C.

About one hundred years after the great religious movement in India under Buddha, a man was born in China who inaugurated a somewhat similar movement there, and who impressed his character and principles on three hundred millions of people.  It cannot be said that he was the founder of a new religion, since he aimed only to revive what was ancient.  To quote his own words, he was “a transmitter, and not a maker.”  But he was, nevertheless, a very extraordinary character; and if greatness is to be measured by results, I know of no heathen teacher whose work has been so permanent.  In genius, in creative power, he was inferior to many; but in influence he has had no equal among the sages of the world.

“Confucius” is a Latin name given him by Jesuit missionaries in China; his real name was K’ung-foo-tseu.  He was born about 550 B.C., in the province of Loo, and was the contemporary of Belshazzar, of Cyrus, of Croesus, and of Pisistratus.  It is claimed that Confucius was a descendant of one of the early emperors of China, of the Chow dynasty, 1121 B.C.; but he was simply of an upper-class family of the State of Loo, one of the provinces of the empire,—­his father and grandfather having been prime ministers to the reigning princes or dukes of Loo, which State resembled a feudal province of France in the Middle Ages, acknowledging only a nominal fealty to the Emperor.

We know but little of the early condition of China.  The earliest record of events which can be called history takes us back to about 2350 B.C., when Yaou was emperor,—­an intelligent and benignant prince, uniting under his sway the different States of China, which had even then reached a considerable civilization, for the legendary or mythical history of the country dates back about five thousand years.  Yaou’s son Shun was an equally remarkable man, wise and accomplished, who lived only to advance the happiness of his subjects.  At that period the religion of China was probably monotheistic.  The supreme being was called Shang-te, to whom sacrifices were made, a deity who exercised a superintending care of the universe; but corruptions rapidly crept in, and a worship of the powers of Nature and of the spirits of departed ancestors, who were supposed to guard the welfare of their descendants, became the prevailing religion.  During the reigns of these good emperors the standard of morality was high throughout the empire.

Project Gutenberg
Beacon Lights of History, Volume 01 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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