An essay on pages 435-36 of The Writings of John Leland
Edited by L.F. Greene, ARNO PRESS & THE NEW YOUR TIMES, New York, 1969,
Reprinted 2010 by Local Church Bible Publishers, www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com
As Meslucius was digging in the earth after golden ore, he found an iron chest, which, to all appearance, had lain there a number of centuries. Opening the chest, he found therein a parchment, preserved entire from the waste of ages, and every line thereon written legibly plain. In composition, it exceeded everything he had ever seen. The boldness o the figures—the pomp and sublimity of the style, surpassed all the writings of the oriental regions; but in detailing facts, and describing moral precepts, such artless simplicity appeared, that a child would unavoidably feel the force of the narratives and injunctions. By the face of the parchment, it appeared that it was written by a number of hands, impelled by one and the same spirit. It detailed events which had taken place before the writers lived, in part; and gave an account of the condition of the world, in the days when they lived and wrote; and, likewise, foretold what future events would take place. But, what was most surprising, it gave an account of a certain disease which had raged among men, and how they found a cure. It particularly pointed out a plague that would prevail at the time when Meslucius found the chest, an prescribed a certain, and the only balsam which would restore to health. On the whole, Meslucius reasoned as follows: “At what time, or by whom , this parchment was written, I cannot ascertain. Whether the great events therein related, took place or not, is uncertain. And whether those future events will ever emerge, I know not. But one thing I know, it gives a true account of the condition which the world is now in; with a number of peculiar circumstances, which puzzle me to ascribe to any calculation, short of the foreknowledge of God.
“The plague foretold in the parchment, I not only see raging with all its horrors among all my acquaintance, but feel its ravages in myself. All medicines have proved unavailing, and I will try the prescription of the parchment.”
Meslucius made application of the balsam, and received immediate cure. He then recommended it to others, and all who touched I were made perfectly whole. After this, neither Meslucius, nor any who were healed, entertained ay unconquerable scruple of the truth of all the facts related in the parchment. The intention of this allegory is easy to conceive of.
The present inhabitants of the earth, came into the world seventeen hundred years since the last part of the sacred Parchment (the Bible) was written; at any rate, all of us found it in existence, at the time when we were first capable of knowing. Let it have been written by whom, and at what dates soever—or let it have been preserved by whom, and by what means, we neither know nor imagine; still, one thing we know, the Bible does exist. And is there any reason in man, or any book written by man, that reveals precepts equal to those in the Bible—that describes a mode of life as harmless and useful as the sacred Parchment? The plague of moral evil, in all its stages and windings, is drawn with more than human pencil. Both flattery and effrontery are avoided, and naked truth shines in all her virgin beauty.
After all the reasonings of men, guilt, with her iron talons, seizes their consciences; nor can they evade the assault with all their vain surmises. Where then shall a guilty sinner find relief? The light of nature, philosophy, and state policy are all silent: neither of them can five a gleam of hope beyond the grave, nor show on forgiven. But the gospel of Jesus, is loaded with such blessings as guilty sinners need. Yes, through the blood of the cross, and the resurrection of Christ, pardon of sin is administered and eternal life made known. When sinners are made sensible of their pollution, and feel the plague of sin, on applying to the Saviour, and receiving the balsam of his grace, they obtain a perfect cure. All whoever apply, are received; all who look do live; all who touch, are made whole. Though Christ crucified, is to the Jews a stumbling-block, to the Greeks foolishness, to the men of worldly wisdom scorn; yet to tem who believe, he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. O! that all my dear countrymen might apply to this balm; then would they joyfully believe in the truth of the scriptures.