“But for that path,” said many to him, “I should never have come to this lovely valley.”
There are two ways of journeying through life: one, like the first pilgrim, who thought only of self and of speedily reaching the vale and the journey’s end; the other better and wiser one, productive of greater good to all, of making a path, that all who come after us may be blessed by our labors.
In a peaceful valley there lived a number of people whose leader dwelt on the hill and guided the tillers of the soil, weaving into their lives many lessons of truth. They were supplied with water from the mountain, which was sent them every morning by a carrier. It was the master’s rule that each should have his urn clean, that the fresh supply might not be mingled with the old. For a time all were faithful: as each day’s supply was used the urn was made clean for the new. But, alas for human weakness! so prone to fall from the line of duty—soon a murmur was heard among the people.
“I have had no fresh water for days,” said one of the group standing idly by the roadside.
“Neither have I,” said another.
“It’s no use for the master to expect us to labor,” remarked a third, “if we are not supplied with fresh water. Life is hard enough to bear with all we can have to help us,” he continued. “Now there’s our neighbor, Cheerful, over the way—his urn is full of pure, sparkling water each morning.”
“And why?” broke in a voice in tones of remonstrance. The idlers looked at each other, and then at the face of old Faithful, who was just returning from his evening walk and had heard their words of complaint.
“Let me assure you, my neighbors,” he said mildly, yet with force, “it’s all your own fault that your urns are not filled. You each know the master’s command, that they should be kept clean and ready for the fresh supply. Have you all been faithful to the command?”
They thought among themselves, and answered with but partial truth, saying, “We may not always have had our urns clean, but why should they be unfilled for that?”
“Because the new water would be made unclean and useless by being mixed with the old, as you each can see for yourselves. Our master loves all alike; but he cannot supply us with fresh waters and new life if we have not used the old and prepared for the new.”
“I suppose, if we had them ever so clean now, that the carrier would pass us by,” remarked one of the group.
“Try, and see,” said Faithful. “We may always rest assured that if our part is done the master will do his; for no one, however kind and merciful, can benefit us if we do not put ourselves in a state to be blessed. If the master sends us fresh water each day, and our urns are impure, is it the fault of the benefactor that they are so? We must prepare to receive.”