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Tales of Old Japan eBook

Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 405 pages of information about Tales of Old Japan.
which I have been following.  From this time forth repent and examine your own hearts.  If you will become dutiful, your parents from this day will live happy as the saints.  But if you will not repent, but persist in your evil ways, your parents will suffer the pains of hell.  Heaven and hell are matters of repentance or non-repentance.  Repentance is the finding of the lost heart, and is also the object of learning.  I shall speak to you further upon this point to-morrow evening.

SERMON III

(THE SERMONS OF KIU-O, VOL. 1)

Moshi has said, “There is the third finger.  If a man’s third or nameless finger be bent, so that he cannot straighten it, although his bent finger may cause him no pain, still if he hears of some one who can cure it, he will think nothing of undertaking a long journey from Shin to So[94] to consult him upon this deformed finger; for he knows it is to be hateful to have a finger unlike those of other men.  But he cares not a jot if his heart be different to that of other men; and this is how men disregard the true order of things.”

[Footnote 94:  Ancient divisions of China.]

Now this is the next chapter to the one about benevolence being the true heart of man, which I expounded to you the other night.  True learning has no other aim than that of reclaiming lost souls; and, in connection with this, Moshi has thus again declared in a parable the all-importance of the human heart.

The nameless finger is that which is next to the little finger.  The thumb is called the parent-finger; the first finger is called the index; the long is called the middle finger; but the third finger has no name.  It is true that it is sometimes called the finger for applying rouge; but that is only a name given it by ladies, and is not in general use.  So, having no name, it is called the nameless finger.  And how comes it to have no name?  Why, because it is of all the fingers the least useful.  When we clutch at or grasp things, we do so by the strength of the thumb and little finger.  If a man scratches his head, he does it with the forefinger; if he wishes to test the heat of the wine[95] in the kettle, he uses the little finger.  Thus, although each finger has its uses and duties, the nameless finger alone is of no use:  it is not in our way if we have it, and we do not miss it if we lose it.  Of the whole body it is the meanest member:  if it be crooked so that we cannot straighten it, it neither hurts nor itches; as Moshi says in the text, it causes no pain; even if we were without it, we should be none the worse off.  Hence, what though it should be bent, it would be better, since it causes no pain, to leave it as it is.  Yet if a person, having such a crooked finger, hears of a clever doctor who can set it straight, no matter at how great a distance he may be, he will be off to consult this doctor.  And pray why?  Because he feels ashamed of having

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