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THE KEY LOG
Sometimes when logs are being driven or guided down stream to their destination or market-place, there comes what might be called a jam. The great mass of timber refuses to move. Then the skill of the drivers is soon manifest in the rapidity with which they discover the cause of the obstruction. One certain log is found which holds the key to the situation. Dislodge this, and the vast body begins to move again, though the work necessary to bring about the much-desired result is attended with more or less danger to the one undertaking it. Ropes are often attached to the body, which, being held by the hands of others, serve to lessen the danger of being caught by a sudden start of the huge pile.
So in the progress of humanity towards its grand destiny, there comes a sudden check, confusion takes the place of harmony and advancement. Some one is raised up to cut the key log of a tremendous error, and then the race moves on its homestretch with an accelerated ratio. Luther, Wesley, Channing, each in their day dislodged mighty errors from the minds of many of their generation.
Again, there comes up into the ear of God the deep longing of tens of thousands for some one who will deliver them from their present dilemma of painful doubt and indecision. Go back to old ideas they cannot; accepting new ones is seemingly impossible, and so there is a jam. Old cherished ideas cannot be given up until something better is given to take their place, until the reasonableness of the new departure and its connection with the real truths of the old is seen. Divine wisdom is needed to say the right words at the proper time. Then the tares of error can be separated from the wheat of truth without rooting up “the wheat with them.”
“A bending staff I would not break,
A feeble faith I would not shake,
Nor even rudely pluck away
The error which some truth may stay,
Whose sudden loss might leave without
A shield against the shafts of doubt.”
— December, 1885 —