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Ancients did not lightly ask favours

KU-LIANG CH'IH (4th and 5th centuries b.c.), one of three major commentators for the Spring and Autumn Annals, said, "PRAYERS for rain should be offered up in spring and summer only; not in autumn and winter. Why not in autumn and winter? Because the moisture of growing things is not then exhausted; neither has man reached the limit of his skill. Why in spring and summer? Because time is then pressing, and man's skill is of no further avail. How so? Because without rain just then nothing could be made to grow ; the crops would fail, and famine ensue. But why wait until time is pressing, and man's skill of no further avail? Because prayers for rain are the same as asking a favour, and the ancients did not lightly ask favours. Why so? Because they held it more blessed to give than to receive; and as the latter excludes the former, the main object of man's life is taken away. How is praying for rain asking a favour? It is a request that God will do something for us. The divine men of old who had any request to make to God, were careful to prefer it in due season. At the head of all his high officers of State, the prince would proceed in person to offer up his prayer. He could not ask any one else to go as his proxy.

A commentator adds, "If we are not to ask favours of God, how much less may we ask them of one another. Persons who recklessly ask favours, should not be treated with the consideration to which they would otherwise be entitled."
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