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There was a great flood in the State of Sung

There is the following traditional story: In Sung there was a great flood. A man from Lu condoled with the Prince of Sung saying, "Heaven has sent down excessive rains, injuring the millet for sacrifices and spreading over your land, to the grief of those in charge of the government. I have been sent respectfully to condole with you."

The Prince of Sung replied, "I have not practiced jên. Fasts and prohibitions have not been regulated, nor, in employing the people, has the proper time been chosen; hence Heaven has visited us with disaster. Having in addition caused you concern, I beg to acknowledge the condescension of your message."

Confucius heard of this and said, "Sung is almost ready for enlightened government."
A disciple said, "What do you mean?"

Confucius said, "Of old Chieh and Chou did not admit their faults, and their destruction was swift indeed. Ch’êng-t’ang and King Wên knew enough to recognize their faults, and their rise was sudden indeed. To reform after having committed faults is not to be at fault."

After the Prince of Sung heard of this remark, he rose early and retired late. He mourned for the dead, made polite enquiries after those who were ill, and greatly exerted himself inside the country. After three years the harvests were abundant and the government was tranquil. If previously the Prince of Sung had not heard of Confucius' words, the grain harvested would not have been abundant, nor would the state have been at peace. The Ode says,

He assists me to bear the burden of my position,
And shows me how to display a virtuous conduct.

传曰:宋大水。鲁人吊之曰:“天降淫雨,害于粢盛,延及君地,以忧执政,使臣敬吊。”宋人应之,曰:“寡人不仁,斋戒不修,使民不时,天加以灾,又遗君忧,拜命之辱。”孔子闻之,曰:“宋国其庶几矣。”弟子曰:“何谓?”孔子曰:“昔桀纣不任其过,其亡也忽焉。成汤文王知任其过,其兴也勃焉。过而改之,是不过也。”宋人闻之,乃夙兴夜寐,吊死问疾,戮力宇内,三岁,年丰政平。乡使宋人不闻孔子之言,则年谷未丰,而国家未宁。《诗》曰:“佛时仔肩,示我显德行。”

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