Magistrate title: Sixth court - King Bian Cheng
Couplets to either side of magistrate:
If you are reckless and perverse, it will be hard to get out of this place.
You must understand and ponder deep within that there's no business beyond heaven's purview.
Document: Reward goodness
This idea that there is "no business beyond heaven's purview" frequently recurs in these hell scrolls, particularly in the couplets on either side of the magistrates. As the third scroll warned potential sinners, "there are spirits waiting just three inches away from their head" so that even perverse thoughts will be punished. Hell murals sometimes depicted the living as always walking around with a red-haired blue demon immediately behind them, recording every behavior that might merit punishment or reward. The kitchen god also monthly reported on what goes on inside the house.
Since ancient times, some theorists on religion have argued that this surveillance aspect is the principle function of religion, that what law regulates in public, religion in turn regulates in private. Critias in the early fourth century B.C.E. contended:
Then when the laws prevented [men] from committing open deeds of violence, but they continued to do them in secret, it seems to me that a man of clever and cunning wit first invented for men fear of the gods, so that there might be something to frighten the wicked, even if they do or say or think something in secret. Hence he introduced the divine, saying that there is a deity who enjoys immortal life, hearing and seeing with his mind, thinking of everything and caring about these things, and possessing a divine nature, who will hear everything said among mortals and be able to see everything that is done.... The place he said the gods lived in was one by the mention of which he could most frighten men – from which he knew came fears for mortals and rewards for their miserable life – the upper circuit, where he remarked lightning and fearful claps of thunder and the starry frame of heaven, the beautiful workmanship of the cunning craftsman Time.... With such fears he surrounded men ... and quenched lawlessness by his ordinances.... So I think did someone first persuade men there is a race of deities.
With regard to early China, Mozi in the late fourth century B.C.E. mirrored his Greek contemporary:
It is all because of the doubt of the existence of the ghosts and spirits, and the ignorance of their being able to reward virtue and punish vice. If all the people in the world believed that the spirits are able to reward virtue and punish vice, how could the world be in chaos?
These hell scrolls would seem to buttress this aspect of religion's function within society.