|Lisu mingbian 禮俗明辨 / [Li Jiugong zhu 李九功著].
JapSin I, (38/42) 42/2
Three manuscripts by Li Jiugong 李九功, bound in one volume of sixty-eight pages.
Source: Albert Chan, SJ, Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 68.
JapSin I, (38/42) 42/2a
Lisu mingbian 禮俗明辨.
Given orally by Li Jiugong 李九功 and written down by Li Liangjue 李良爵.
Manuscript, fourteen folios (pp. 1–27). Chinese bamboo paper, one volume.
19.3 x 12.5 cm.
The end of the manuscript (f. 27v) bears the inscription: 古閩李多默口授 (given orally by Thomas Li of Fujian), 男良爵筆錄 (written down by his son Liangjue).
The manuscript is in the form of questions and answers. The questions are identical with those in the Liyi wenda 禮儀問答 (cf. [38/42] 40/7b). This book must have been written shortly before his death in 1681 (Kangxi 20), when he was an invalid and had to seek help from his son. He has told us that he was fond of reading throughout his life time, especially books on the Catholic faith (cf. Jap-Sin I, 34/37, 1, ji 第三集, ff. 13v–14v). He was very familiar with Catholic practices. In his replies to diverse questions, he quotes with great ease and shows particular interest in the current events of the missions. For instance, when asked about the ceremonies for saving the sun or the moon from eclipses his answer is: “The eclipses are things that belong to the natural course. They can be forecast and one must not attribute this to natural calamities. Long ago the priests who were serving at the Imperial Observatory explained this in their memorials to the throne. When did we see them agree with the populace and join in their practice?” Again, in dealing with the veneration of city gods, he says that angels are sent by God to guard cities and they are spirits, whereas the pagan city gods often have their statues and often these statues are attributed to some deceased persons, which is absurd.
Li Jiugong saw the great affinity between the Christian faith and Confucianism. He warned the missioners not to criticize Chinese writings bluntly. He contended that the Chinese language is a very flexible one. When, therefore, one reads a book one must pay attention to the whole context and should on no account separate the phrases and make interpretations based on separate phrases. If Chinese writing happens to be entirely wrong, one should never hesitate to point out the errors. On the other hand, if there are insignificant errors that do not go directly against the Catholic faith, it probably would be better to ignore them.
Source: Albert Chan, SJ, Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 68-69.