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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

p. 118


It is very easy to comprehend my teachings and to put them into practice. Yet there is no one in the world who is able either to comprehend, or to practise them. 1

There is an originating principle for speech, an authoritative law for conduct, 2 but because this knowledge is lacking I am unknown. 3 Those who know Me are few; those who imitate Me are worthy. Hence the Holy Man wears coarse garments, but carries a jewel in his bosom. 4

If a man be before his time, though he stand in the midst of the sun, he will appear to his contemporaries as one dwelling in darkness. The "Wisdom of God" has always been a mystery, and because the "Princes of this world" do not understand it they have in all ages "crucified the Lord of Glory." (I Cor. ii, 7, 8.)


118:1 An analysis of the atmosphere is a different affair from its inhalation. There is a distinction between Truth and its expression. To intellectually comprehend the words in which Truth clothes herself, is not to grasp Truth herself. Truth can neither be written nor uttered. Truth is Spirit, and besides Truth there is nothing. Cf. John vii, 17.

118:2 Lit. "Words have an ancestor; affairs a ruler."

118:3 Confucius, Lao-tzu's great contemporary, likewise complained that he was unknown. Cf. Analects xiv, 37.

118:4 The chapter reminds us of the question of Jesus recorded in John viii, 43: "Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word."

Next: Chapter LXXI