(“Classic of History”) is a book of recorded history of China's remote ages. It is the oldest known history book, having recorded history from the remote antiquity of Emperor Yao (2356 – 2255 BC) and Emperor Shun (2294 – 2184 BC), to that of the Shang (1600 – 1046 BC) and Zhou (1046 – 256 BC) Dynasties. From this book, we can see how the ancient people regarded Heaven and man as one, in their words and actions. Below are a few examples.
1. Heaven Punishes the Enormities
This example is from the chapter "Xibo Kan Li" within the section about the Shang Dynasty. After Duke Wen of Zhou defeated the Li State, Zuyi was very frightened and went to warn King Zhou of Shang, saying:
"Your Excellence, I'm afraid that Heaven is going to terminate our Shang Dynasty! Even deities and divine turtles could not perceive any good omen. It is not that our ancestors do not help us, it is because Your Excellency is short in morals and your extravagant and dissipated ways have alienated us from Heaven. That is why Heaven has abandoned us and not allowed us to have grain for food. Your Excellency does not understand the nature of Heaven and does not observe the law. Now all of the people wish to see you perish. They say, 'Why doesn't Heaven deliver mighty punishment?' The Mandate of Heaven is about to be withdrawn. What is Your Excellency going to do?"
The chapter “Weizi” recorded minister Weizi’s speech, “The Shang dynasty is likely unable to rule the world. Our ancestor King Tang of Shang formulated the laws at the beginning, but King Zhou intoxicates himself with alcohol and women, tarnishing the name of King Tang. Everyone in the Shang kingdom snatches and steals, breaking the law and causing trouble. The government officials all violate the rule of law…”
The first article in Zhou Shu
(the history of the Zhou Dynasty) is entitled "Pledge in Muye." It is the pledge King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty made in Muye. King Wu said:
"There was a saying in ancient times, 'No hen crows in the morning; if it did, the household would decline.' Now King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty only listens to his women and does not offer sacrifices to his ancestors out of reverence and for blessings. He ignores and abandons his brothers of the same ancestors, but respects, worships, trusts, and employs those criminals at large, appointing them as high-ranking officials in the court, who then treat the people brutally and cause trouble in Shang. Now I, Ji Fa (King Wu’s name), will follow the will of Heaven to punish them."