GREAT EMPEROR & TRUE BELIEVER OF CHRIST
Could there ever be an emperor of China who had come close to tolerating Christianity? Or even to become a true believer of Christ himself? Impossible, but usually startling are the facts of history when unearthed. Known to all historians and anyone who is familiar with this name, “Kangxi”, the Emperor was indeed one of the greatest, if not the greatest among the 300 and more emperors in the whole history of China and his 60-years reign from the age of 8 was the longest. None of the historians put Kangxi in bad light, for “All western historians agree that whereas he was a great ruler and distinguished himself equally in peace and war, he was at the same time a superior man; one who stood out from among others in his generation” (Eloise T. Hibbert, Kang Hsi, Emperor of China).
Once, the Emperor Kangxi presented the Jesuits with a house inside the enclosure of the Forbidden City which formerly belonged to an important mandarin. It was reconstructed to suit them. Dwelling within the Forbidden City was exclusive only to the imperial family with its servants and eunuchs and the highest officials, but such honors and regards were also accorded to the Jesuits. Adjacent to the house, he gave them land upon which to build a great church as well as ten thousand taels towards the cost of its construction. When it was finished five years later, the Emperor wrote with his own hand an inscription to be placed over the door: "To the true principal of all things. He is infinitely good and is infinitely just, he illumines, he supports, he regulates all things with supreme authority and with a sovereign justice. He has no beginning and no end. It is he who rules and is the true master." (Rene Fulof Miller, The Power and Secrets of the Jesuits)
In the words of another historian de Mailla concerning the great Emperor, “Just posterity will beyond doubt assign to this prince a distinguished place among the greatest monarchs. Fully occupied between affairs of state, military achievements, and the study of liberal pursuits, beneficent, brave, generous, wise, active, and vigilant in policy, of profound and extended genius, having nothing of the pomp or indolence of Asiatic courts, although his power and wealth were both immense, the one thing alone wanting of this prince, according to the desire of the missionaries who have become the exponents of his eminent qualities, was to crown them all with the adoption of Christianity of which he knew the principles.”
So they concluded, that he knew the principles of Christianity, but fell short in adopting the religion for himself and his people. However, pieces of history when put together proved otherwise, that he was not only an outstanding and upright Emperor who led China into the path of becoming the once greatest empire in the world, but he was also a true believer of (Heaven) God, who had humbled himself to confess and embrace the salvation of Christ and who was Christ-like at heart and in conduct. This idea may be rather unwelcoming to some; to westerners who consider the Chinese monarchs as backward and heathen and to Chinese who would not bow to western superiority and the so-called western religion – Christianity. But facts and truths remain unchanged through time. Was there ever a God-fearing emperor of China who had privately embraced Christianity and put into practice the principles of godliness and set China onto the path of greatness and prosperity thereafter? Here arises 3 issues. First, was there ever a widespread belief of God in "heathen" China? Second, is there proof or documentation of an emperor of China heeding to and embracing the true gospel in a form of worship acceptable to God? Something unimaginable. Third, was China ever the greatest and most prosperous nation in history?
The first and the third questions are quite easily settled if one is prepared to read up a little into historical facts. The second is what the rest of this article would address, that the Chinese ever did have an emperor who knew God and Christ and embraced the salvation of the Cross and in his own way, practiced the truths of this faith in his reign, in heart and in principles. And like the spiritual patriarchal fathers who treasured and practiced the truths of God, he was denied and deprived, but his definition of true worship and his stance of how the Chinese could worship God now open up a deeper understanding to the true righteousness of God. Not because he was theologically trained, but by the faith of a truthful heart, by his love for his people and in defense of true righteousness, the Emperor Kangxi unwittingly challenged the theological depth of the Catholic Church authority and uncovered the shame of her shallowness in true righteousness and true worship. Undoubtedly, the proud Papal authority did not grant consent to the appeal of the “heathen” emperor who attempted to question her spiritual superiority.
As a result, millions were deprived of salvation, for the Truth was unduly made difficult and even impossible or erroneous to be embraced and practiced in the Chinese culture. Ancestor veneration and Confucianism are fundamentals of the nobility and moral values of the Chinese for generations. Due to the lack of in-depth understanding of the west in scriptural honoring of parents by the Biblical patriarchs and the Chinese, the Catholic authority imposed a ban on all such filial practices and veneration. This uprooting of the core values of the Chinese proved too unreasonable to the Emperor and the then missionaries who had stayed long enough in China to understand the depth of it. Compounding this, was the problem of learning the difficult and profound Chinese language which defined its heritage. The arrogance of Western theologians who attempted to read it superficially proved fatal.
The result was as what Jesus would speak of the Pharisees, that they would cross over lands and seas to proselyte and thereafter made it impossible for one to continue in the faith of God. The retaliation of Kangxi to the ban imposed by the Catholic authority forced the door to be closed to Christian gospels of all kinds, whether it be Catholic or Protestant. Emperor Kangxi is now dead, and his reign is over and even if one hard-heartedly put aside the accountability of the deprivation of salvation for his beloved millions, the seeking heart and the righteous spirit of the Emperor lives on to demand an answer to the second issue that relates to salvation and true worship, which is a big one, an universal one, which remains unsettled to this day. The answer involves a challenge to our very foundation, our present interpretation and practices of worship and of the commandment regarding how parents are to be honored and what is meant by leaving parents and cleaving to one’s wife, and if scripturally permissible, multiple wives! It is an issue that will shake the very foundation and fabric of our godliness and a challenge to our interpretations and living of truths, thus even to the validity of our salvation and eternity.
I will first handle the first and the third issue. Contrary to popular belief that the Chinese had always been heathen or polytheistic, the Chinese had actually from antiquity believed, feared and gave the highest reverence to the only one Being who they termed “Heaven”. From the beginning of the Chinese civilization, God was referred to as “Tien” which means “Heaven” as God had not yet made his other names known to them. Yet this Name of God alone was enough to keep them in awe and in faithfulness to their conscience through the many generations. Also, to them, the emperor whom they called “son of Heaven” was mandated by Heaven to rule, and this accords much with the Scriptures that says that governmental authorities are appointed by God. Because they were in awe of Heaven, so they feared the son of Heaven and see the success of a righteous emperor as the vindication of Heaven for him to continue his rule. To this day, the old-time saying, “Heaven has eyes” still serves to remind the Chinese that the “All-seeing Being still accords to each his deeds and misdeeds”. From the rule of Kangxi to the time of his grandson, Chien Long, China had indeed entered its promised land and became the richest and most powerful nation in the world at that time. This answers the first question that the concept of the only one God was not at all new to the Chinese and the third question that China had been a great nation and the world knows that this sleeping dragon is now again awakening. Napoleon once said that when China awakes, the world will shake.
Now to the second question that concerns Kangxi’s spiritual life and thus his decision concerning religious issues in his reign, we need to know a little of what was in the background. Kangxi’s grandmother, Bochita (Mongol descent) and father, Shun-chih (Manchu and Mongol) were religiously inclined. Kangxi's mother was supposedly Chinese. This Manchu family was destined to rule China which was then decaying from internal strives and corruption. A wise woman who raised and groomed her son and grandson, Bochita kept their thrones secured till they were able to fully ascend to it. It was to Bochita’s advantage to be associated with the Lama priests and to gain the support and advices of the Dalai Lama. Not only was Shun-chih a devout Buddhist, he was open and friendly with the Jesuits who were at that time making a foothold in China to spread their faith. Besides giving advices and acting as interpreters to the Court, the Jesuits were employed in areas of the sciences and astronomy and were also tutors to the young Kangxi. They spared no effort in spreading their faith to the imperial family. Yet, despite his father’s openness and respect for the Jesuits and his being in their company for almost his entire life, there was not once recorded by the Jesuits that Emperor Kangxi was ever catechized by them, which was the very unpretentious purpose of their very hard work for many years, laboring in hope that the great Emperor and all his people might one day bow their heads before the all-embracing majesty of the Cross and the supremacy of the Catholic Church. But, like his earthly mandate as a righteous son of Heaven, his spiritual pursuit too carried a purpose of impact and implication, which we shall soon see.
To achieve the hope of being close to the Emperor, they serve with utmost faithfulness in everything called for by the Emperor as long as what they were called upon to do were not a violation of their faith. The benefits that the Jesuits brought to the kingdom were many, especially in the areas of science, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine and even music and arts. The Emperor appreciated the works of the Jesuits who had come to love and admire his person and he applauded their sincerity and accorded recognition for their contributions. They won his heart and his confidence, but over time, he became increasingly disillusioned over the dividing views of the various sects of the Catholic orders and was more and more suspicious of the motives of the Papal authority. There were instances of him coming close to conversion by the Jesuits as he toggled to and fro but finally deciding against the motives of those who had sent them. At times, the Jesuits sincerely believed that he would allow himself to be converted, but although this never happen, many of his children were baptized and made public acknowledgement of their faith in the Christian God.
Despite all, although he was never catechized, he was not deterred in his belief concerning the only one God of Heaven that he had learned from the ancestors which he highly respected. And he gratefully embraced the eternal salvation of Christ which he categorically declared in his poems, that he had come to receive. Emperor Kangxi was never a converted Catholic, but by evangelical Christian definition, his belief and confession made him a saved believer of Christ. But what exactly are the reasons for him to finally become so repelled to the point of deporting missionaries and closing more than 300 Catholic churches with 300,000 Chinese converts? The reasons were in part, a question of what is true and acceptable worship and a doubt about the integrity of those who were supposedly the authority of the Truth and finally a political and a national issue, a big threat to the Chinese moral principles and heritage and a challenge to his responsibility and authority as Emperor over the many millions that were under his rule.
Hidden in the background was the issue of Polygamy that never did have a chance to surface to be confronted openly. The Jesuits were taught, trained and raised to exalt celibacy as holiness and the higher way to be close to God. As the Chinese would understand, it was like the way a Buddhist monk would leave the world to seek for a higher life. But the Chinese had little regard for such begging monks and monogamy was no holier than polygamy which was practiced for many other reasons rather than for more sex. To the Chinese, the honor of husbanding more women and raising more children belongs to the stronger and the more capable. And for the enlargement of posterity and power, having more wives and hence more children was a more viable option and monogamy was a lesser man’s choice. Thus, the strong and the powerful, especially the emperors, kept a sizable harem, especially when intermarriages between tribes and rivals meant peace treaties. Even when Father Schall, a respected and trusted acquaintance tried to dissuade Emperor Shun-chih, it was met with resentment. As Eloise Hibbert in her book on Kangxi put it, “The Christian theory that monogamy was the only true form of marriage seems strange and barbaric to Shun-chih, whose background and whose entire habit of thoughts were permeated by his acceptance of the system of multiple wives”
Other more pressing issues of honor and importance stood in the way; the honoring of ancestors and Confucius, which was the very fabric and foundation of the Chinese people, where piety was more than life itself, where forsaking parents made one a pariah and considered worse than an animal, where failing to live up to the expectations of parents made one a failure. In the process, the name of Confucius, the one who taught and propagate this teaching was recalled to memory when such commitment and promises were made. Great reverence of bows and prostrations were involved in such rites. Erroneously however, the term “Ancestor Worship” was used and even to this day, to describe such rites. And when the word “worship” was used, such acts became classified as unlawful before God. But whosoever defined it was certainly wrong and cannot be representative of the intentions of the Chinese people who performed them. Perhaps there was no other word closer in meaning, but it is certainly a wrong use of word, for it portrayed the well-meaning act of honoring parents as an act of worshipping them in the way one would worship Heaven (God), which was never the case with the Chinese who knew the simple difference between Heaven (God) and dead souls. The clear conclusion is, the Westerners had coined the English term, “Ancestor Worship” and put it into the mouth of the ignorant Chinese, and in the process, accusing them, the Chinese, of blasphemy and idolatry. Such disaster was the result of the failure to adequately comprehend the depth of the Chinese culture and language.
One may contend that the word “Pai Ancestors" which means “Pray to Ancestors” and thus means worshipping them. But do not the westerners also say, “Pray thee” which means “beseech thee”? In the words “Pai fan”, pray is also used, but it means “respectful visit”, not in any meaning of the word “worship” or "pray". However, there would always be abuses, as in any other things. So in cases were superstitions were involved in the Chinese form of paying respect to ancestors, there was a need to be theologically rectified in the light of God’s Word and practices of magic and spells would have to be removed. Such cultic practices were much hated by Kangxi in his entire life. In the book “Self Portrait of Kang-Hsi” (by Jonathan D. Spence) the Emperor himself said, “Even though I realized it was quite impractical to close down temples, and order people to return to their secular life, there was no harm in following the principle of preparing for trouble before trouble comes. So I strictly banned all the sects such as the ‘non-action’, ‘white lotus’, ‘origin of the dragon’, and ‘all-submerging Yang’, and stiffened the penalties for all officials who failed to report heterodox teachers in their localities. Also, I banned the so called ‘incense association’ where men and women mixed together and sold erotic works and special medicines; I ordered the printing blocks of certain mystical and magical books burned; and I continued to enforce the prohibitions against the private ownership of forbidden books – though I allowed exceptions for those working at home in astronomy and mathematics.”
But never did he ban the Bible or burn the works of the Christian missionaries. The issues of Confucianism and ancestor “worship” were however constantly debated. And from time to time, the different popes and the various Catholic orders were divided with differing opinions. When the Jesuits were represented by powerful supporters, ancestor worship was condoned. When Dominicans and Benedictines were in power behind the papal throne, ancestor worship was banned. In desperation, the Jesuits residing in Peking turned to the Emperor with the following appeal:
We, your faithful subjects, although originally from foreign lands respectfully beg your majesty to give us instructions on the following points:
"The learned men of Europe have heard that ceremonies are performed in China in honour of Confucius, that sacrifices are offered to Heaven, and that certain rites are observed in regard to the ancestors. As the learned men of Europe are persuaded that such ceremonies are performed for a reason and being themselves ignorant of their true purpose, they have begged us to inform them regarding the subject.
We have always believed that Confucius was honoured in China as a maker of laws and that ceremonies were performed in his honour for that reason. We believe that the rites observed in regard to the ancestors were originally conceived in order to demonstrate the affection of their descendants and to commemorate the good deeds which they performed during their lives. As to the sacrifices to Heaven (t'ien) we believe it is not the visible Heaven which is referred to, but the supreme master, author, and preserver of the sky, the earth, and all that live thereon. That is the interpretation we have always given to these ceremonies. But as we are foreigners we cannot speak with the same certitude in regard to this important point as the Chinese themselves and we therefore dare to beseech your majesty not to refuse to clarify this subject for us. We await your reply with respect and submission." (M.Huc. Le Christianisme en Chine)
Emperor Kangxi agreed with all the points raised and wrote a letter in confirmation to the Pope that Confucianism and ancestor “worship” were not religion but philosophy and customs of paying respect to the ancestors. He thought that as a Chinese emperor who now spoke for himself and for the millions that he represented, his explanation would carry enough weight to explain the case. He was confident. But the response from the Papal authority proved devastating. The Roman Catholic authority insisted that these practices be totally banned. Also, the Peking Jesuits were accused of preferring to have the controversy dictated by a “heathen” emperor than by the successor of Saint Peter. It revealed that there clearly were dissentions and quarrels within the Church Authority who inconsistently toggled between the 'for's and the 'against's at different times and had now disregarded the explanation of the head of the Chinese people, the Emperor himself. Feeling insulted, hurt and disillusioned, he summoned the Cardinal de Tournon, the papal representative to court and demanded an explanation of the Pope’s manifesto to stop all the Chinese believers from honoring the ancestors the way they have done for centuries, saying “I know your religion is pure and holy,” he said to the papal legate, “and it is hoped that you will be able to propagate it throughout the world. But you make one great mistake. You do not take into consideration the customs and opinions of different people.”
De Tournon admitted to be ignorant of the Chinese language and customs and suggested a M. Maigrot to speak for him. Maigrot then made a grave mistake of trying to oppose Ancestor “worship” and Confucianism without a proper understanding of the Chinese language and this proved fatal. He quoted the texts of Confucius and attempted to prove these teaching as contradictory to Christianity. Thereupon, to challenge and expose the shallowness of his understanding of the Chinese language, thus his inadequacy to interpret and critique on Confucianism and Chinese values and customs like Ancestor Rites, the Emperor required him to translate the 4 simple but profound characters written over his throne. Maigrot knew only 2 and could not explain the meaning of any of the 4. Such pretence of scholarship infuriated the Emperor who had Maigrot immediately imprisoned and deported.
Above his throne, the four characters that Maigrot, the Westerner could not read or interpret were: “Zheng Da Guang Min”
“Zheng” which means ruling in uprightness as opposed to being crooked.
“Da” which means ruling with a big heart as opposed to being narrow and small in heart.
“Guang” which mean ruling in brightness of light as opposed to working in shadows of darkness.
“Min” which means ruling in clarity and transparency as opposed to being in secrecy and cover-ups.
The Emperor in his own words (Book - Self portrait) said, “On the question of Chinese Rites that might be practiced by the Western missionaries, de Tournon would not speak though I sent messages to him repeatedly. I agreed that with the formulation of the Peking father had drawn up in 1700: that Confucius was honored by the Chinese as a master, but his name was not invoked in prayer for the purpose of gaining happiness, rank or wealth; that worship of ancestors was an expression of live and filial remembrance, not intended to bring protection to the worshipper; and there was no idea, when an ancestral tablet was erected, that the soul of the an ancestor dwelt in the tablet. And when sacrifices were offered to Heaven it was not the blue existent sky that was addressed, but the lord and creator of all things. If the ruler Shang-ti was sometimes called Heaven, Tien, that had no more significance than giving honorific names to the emperor.”
Concerning the need to thoroughly understand the Chinese language before one can justly address the Chinese and rightly determine validity in their moral and religious values, the Emperor said, “If de Tournon didn’t reply, the Catholic bishop Maigrot did, coming to Jehol and telling me that Heaven is a material thing, and should not be worshipped, and that one should invoke only the name “Lord of Heaven” to show the proper reverence. Maigrot wasn't merely ignorant of Chinese literature, he couldn't even recognize the simplest Chinese characters; yet he chose to discuss the falsity of the Chinese moral system. Sometimes, as I pointed out, the emperor is addressed honorifically as "under the steps of the throne"; would Maigrot say this was reverence to a set of steps made by some artisan? I am addressed as "Wan sui, Ten Thousand Years"; obviously that too is not literal since from the beginnings of history to the present day only 7,600 years have passed. Even little animals mourn their dead mothers for many days; these Westerners who want to treat their dead with indifference are not even equal to animals. How could they be compared with Chinese? We venerate Confucius because of his doctrines of respect for virtue, his system of education, his inculcation of love for superiors and ancestors. Westerners venerate their own saints because of their actions. They paint pictures of men with wings and say, ‘These represent heavenly spirits, swift as if they had wings, though in reality there are no men with wings.’ I do not find it appropriate to dispute this doctrine, yet with superficial knowledge Maigrot discussed Chinese sanctity. He talked for days, with his perverse reason, his poorly concealed anger, and fled the country when he could not get his way, a sinner against the Catholic teaching and a rebel to China.” He added, “One doesn't blame your attachment to your religion, but one does blame and rightly your obstinacy on matters of which you know nothing."
Concerning the dissensions in the various Catholic orders, he wrote, “But in this Catholic religion, the Society of Peter quarrels with the Jesuits, Bouvet quarrels with Mariani, and among the Jesuits the Portuguese want only their own nationals in their church while the French want only French in theirs. This violates the principles of religion. Such dissension cannot be inspired by the Lord of Heaven but by the Devil, who, I have heard the Westerners say, leads men to do evil since he can't do otherwise.”
Finally, as what a good ruler would have, the concern of the control of a foreign power, which he had always been cautious of. He wondered if the embrace of the Catholic religion would render him a subject of the Popes and be randomly dictated over? Would he, in the process, be putting his beloved people into wrong hands? Can the different popes and the various orders of the Jesuits, Dominicans and Benedictines who were so divided over times and so inconsistent in giving their papal blessings of the rites of ancestor "worship" be trustworthy enough to teach China on what is true religion and true worship from generation to generation? At one time, ancestor "worship" was deemed permissible and at another time was not, depending on the different popes and the different voices that spoke the loudest at any point in time. The Emperor was disillusioned over the fights in the papacy and this issue led to further suspicion concerning the motives of the westerners. Such untrustworthiness was too much for an upright and disciplined leader and his people who had been consistent in their heritage since antiquity. He was far in advance of his time in realizing the important part which the West would sooner or later play in the Orient and the price the Chinese would have to pay if they would not remain united and surefooted. He wrote in the later years, “But if our government became feeble, if we had civil war or were invaded by Mongols, what would become of our empire? The Europeans could do with China as they pleased.” His prediction came true in the generations soon after. He knew though that in the meantime, he could use what the westerner brought to the East as tools to awake his country to prosperity and to spiritual reality, but the division of the Roman Catholic Church into 2 opposing camps, which defeated each other had destroyed the prestige of the Europeans in the eyes of the Emperor and his people.
The Pope’s desire for power and control over the Peking believers became more blatantly clear when de Tournon kept insisting on appointing a leader over the Peking Jesuits and churches, one whom the Pope must have confidence in, and such a one would not be one among those that who had stayed long enough in China to have understood the moral principles and culture of the Chinese or had known the way of the Emperor over his people. To that, the Emperor (Book, Self Portrait) answered, “If the Pope would send a man of impeccable conduct and spiritual gifts as good as those Westerners here now, a man who won’t interfere with others or dominate them, he will be received as warmly as the rest. But if we give such a man power over the others as you requested, there will be many and serious difficulties. You have seen here Westerners who have stayed 4o years with us, and if they are still somewhat lacking in knowledge of imperial affairs, how could some just implanted from the West do better? I would not be able to get along with him as I do with these. We would need an interpreter, which means distrust and awkwardness. Such a man would never be free from error, and if he would be appointed leader of all he would have to carry blame earned by the others and pay penalties according to our usage.”
He added, “One cannot blame your attachment to your religion, but one does blame – and rightly – your obstinacy on matters of which you know nothing.”
He finally issued an imperial edict, “The church you propagate is neither good nor bad for China… the missionary Maigrot who did not understand, who had no knowledge of literary Chinese and who could not even read. How could he determine the right and wrong of China’s moral principles? Westerners are small minded people (hsio jen) Henceforth foreigners are not to teach in China.”
Emperor Kangxi did not allow China to embrace Catholicism, because he would not subject his people to a religious authority that he was not convinced of. But there was nowhere recorded in history that he denied or defied the “Lord of Heaven” that was synonymous to the Eternal God, for through his Chinese heritage and his own spiritual pursuits, he was convinced of His Supremacy and Divinity.
The death of his grandmother was totally devastating to the Emperor. It was in the month of February 1688 when he was 34 years old. Bochita, the Empress-dowager who raised and groomed him had meant much to him. For many years, the valiant old lady had kept her position with much dignity and had risen above her own personal sorrows to do her best for her grandson and his people. The Emperor showed his respect for her by ordering elaborate funeral ceremonies and for years, he shed tears whenever he passed the palace where she once lived. In the same week of her death, ironically, a trusted friend, Father Verbiest also died. Everyday, for several weeks, the Emperor sent one of his confidential messengers to question the Fathers the condition of eternity, about heaven and hell and purgatory, about the existence of God and how one could obtain salvation.
However, there were indications that his inner conviction and conversion could have been even earlier: “After he had mastered the principles of geometry and Euclid and was deep in the mysteries of astrology, the emperor had an experience which resembled a conversion, but not in the religious sense as his instructors had desired. One of the Jesuits had presented him with a chart of the heavens and had explained to him in detail the system of Copernicus. The fact that the earth moved round the sun came as a revelation to the emperor. He had heard of it before but had failed either to believe or appreciate its true significance. Suddenly the truth pierced his consciousness and threw him into a state of great excitement. The man who was usually so reserved and restrained in his dealings with others and who never allowed anything to interfere with his duties, for days shut himself away from his ministers, hardly eating or sleeping, lost in the study of a concept which had revolutionized his inner world. His own lack of importance in the vast scheme which controlled and directed the universe was a fact which had to be assimilated. He, the mighty emperor, and his people, who referred to themselves as "all between the four seas", were after all but tiny particles of matter continually whirling in infinite space. Confronted by his own nothingness, the emperor was great enough to accept it. He emerged from his seclusion with eyes that saw the world as a new and wonderful place.
The Jesuits had received their own illumination through their faith. They were Roman Catholics first and scientists afterwards. Science to them was only the means to an end. But the Emperor found his own personal salvation in an increasing awareness of the mysteries of the universe. In the fullness of his maturity, he was what the Chinese call chun tzu, the Superior Man.... Like his father before him who, because of a psychic experience had left the world, the Emperor K'ang Hsi, too, had heard the message of the stars, even though his revelation had come to him from a different source. (Eloise T. Hibbert, Kang Hsi, Emperor of China)
The cautious Emperor made no confession of the Catholic faith, but clearly his experience with his Creator was as what true religious faith would dictate - a very personal and real encounter. More findings revealed the specific direction of his spiritual pursuit where he found his rest and thus his confession in words. For there had been other instances where he acknowledged the God of the Cross and humbly accepted Him as Savior of his life. The following is as proof, poems dedicated to the Holy One, written by himself, an emperor of high scholarly proficiency. Here we see the son of Heaven, the supreme ruler over the millions, humbling himself to receive salvation from one “criminal” Son of God, crucified upon a tree in a little nation, Israel whose land and people were less than an insignificant fraction of his huge empire. If it were not for a divine revelation and true conversion, this would not have been possible. Would a great emperor humble himself to a carpenter of a little unknown land, far away in time and in distance? Yes, because as a true man, he knew his Creator and as a true king, he recognized the Christ, the King of kings and Master of all and there was this divine connection that he had with the Supreme Being, whom the Emperor humbly acknowledged as the Holy One. A truly humble Emperor indeed and a man truly great before God!
POEMS WRITTEN BY EMPEROR KANGXI
OF QING DYNASTY
THE TREASURE OF LIFE
The treasure of heaven is comprised of Sun, Moon and Stars;
The treasure of earth consists of crops, gold and silver.
The treasure of a kingdom is to have righteous officials;
The treasure of a family is to have descendents with piety.
Yet, Gold, silver and jade are not as precious as one's life.
Hundred years of age is nothing compared to eternity.
Coming and going in life is like a dream.
The best food and clothing don't mean a thing.
It's no exception for someone born in a royal family.
The most important thing in the world is life.
Something that white jade, gold and silver can't buy.
Even plain porridge can be satisfying;
No cloth is fit to wear for a thousand years.
The heaven's gate was closed due to the first man's sin;
The path to salvation is through the Son only.
I would like to accept God, the Son and the Holy Spirit;
And receive from thee my free gift of eternity.
By the hand of KANGXI of Qing Dynasty
THE POEM OF THE CROSS
When the work was accomplished, blood formed a creek
Grace from the west was thousand feet deep.
He who lowered himself for us stepped on the midnight trip.
Before the rooster crowed twice, betrayed thrice was He.
Five hundred slashes torn every inch of his skin.
Two thieves at six feet high hanged besides him.
The sadness was greater than anything seen by anyone.
This poem is for You, the Holy one.
THE POEM ON TRUTH
Everything as seen by the eye is His creation.
He who has no beginning and no end, is three persons in one.
The heaven's gate was closed to the first man's sin and reopens through the Son.
Rid of all false religions, we should become real disciples admired by everyone
Towards the end of his days, the Emperor must have had a premonition of his approaching death. During his interviews with the ambassador of his arch-enemy and greatest threat, Russia, he spoke kindly and referred several times to the fact that his life was drawing to a close. He spoke of the vanity and uncertainty of human affairs, adding that he was now an old man and by the course of nature would not live long. He desired, so he said, to die in peace with God and all mankind. So impressed was John Bell (one of the delegates in the Russian convoy) with the kindness and humanity of the old Emperor that he wrote in his journal, "I cannot omit taking notice of the good nature and affability of this ancient monarch. He still retains a sound judgment and seemed to me more sprightly than many of the princes his sons."
This is my tribute to the GREAT EMPEROR KANGXI – True believer of Christ, Emperor Of China, who rode on China, the great dragon and led her from darkness to the path of prosperity and brightness. And with no lesser than his mandate to rule as a son of Heaven, his spiritual quest awoke the East and the West to what is true worship of God and true righteousness of His commandments. And in all his days, he held a heart of truthfulness that yearned to see a righteous Kingdom of true sons and true princes, which is none other than the vision of the everlasting Davidic Kingdom that Hashem had promised to His people. Truly, not only startling are the facts of history but also the truths of eternity.
Kang Hsi, Emperor of China by Eloise Talcott Hibbert
Emperor Of China, Self Portrait of Kang-Hsi by Jonathan D. Spence
Chinese Culture Homepage
A DREAM I HAD OF EMPEROR KANGXI
RESTORATION OF BIBLICAL PATRIARCHY
HEBRAIC ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY
Copyright © Israel CS Lim, July 2002