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Christ Comes To Texas
by [?]

“I want no lectures from you, sir. I know my business,” exclaimed the man of God, with rising color.

“Ah, I fear that ‘business’ is to coin the blood of Jesus of Nazareth into golden guineas.”

The infinite pity in the speaker’s voice cowed the pugnacious preacher, and he was about to pass on; but a brown, toil-stained hand–the hand of a carpenter–was laid upon his shoulder. “Wait, my brother. Let not the sun go down upon thy wrath. Him ye serve was even as I am– poor and friendless. He spake as I speak, the truth that welled up in his heart. Cruel things were said of him, but he resented it not. He was beaten with many stripes, and mocked, and crucified; but he freely forgave. Be thou humble as he was humble; be thou forgiving even as he forgave. Love God and thy fellow-men. That is the whole law given by him ye serve. Words are but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, but a good example endureth forever.”

“Lord! Lord!” exclaimed the editor. “Why didn’t you reveal yourself to him?”

“He would not have believed me. No; though I performed before him miracles more wonderful than those accredited to me in Palestine. I have resumed my earthly raiment and adopted my old mode of life as the best possible disguise. Believing me a vagabond, those pretending to worship with all their heart and all their soul, show unto me what they really are. Now as ever do men polish the outside of the cup while within is all uncleanliness.”

“Have you interviewed many of the big preachers?”

“Many, almost all. I attended Sam Jones’ recent services at Austin. He is simply a product of the evil times upon which the church has fallen. In religion, as in art and letters, decadence is marked by sensationalism. The trouble with Sam is that he mistakes himself for me–thinks he has been called to judge the world. I was pained to hear him consign about fifteen different classes of people to Perdition without sifting them to see if, perchance, there might not be one in the lot worthy of salvation. I presented him with a copy of my Sermon on the Mount. He took a fresh chew of tobacco and remarked that he was inclined to think he had read it before somewhere. Then he took up a collection. Sam represents the rebound from the old religious belly-ache. For years preachers had an idea that there was nothing of gladness in the worship of God–that it consisted simply of a chronic case of the snuffles. Jones has simply gone to the opposite extreme and transformed the Temple of the Deity into a variety dive. Nero fiddled while Rome burned; but Jones indulges in the levity of the buffoon while consigning millions of human beings to Hell. Alas, that so few preachers understand the pity which permeates all true religions.”

“All true religions?”

“Even so. All are true and of God that make people better, nobler, more pitiful. The Father is all-wise. He tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. He gives to each people a religion commensurate with its mentality. I had hoped that the church established nearly nineteen centuries ago would suffice until the end of the world; that the simple theology I taught would grow with the world’s mental growth and strengthen with its intellectual strength. It was a religion of Love. I bound its devotees to no specific forms and ceremonies–these were after-growths. I expected them. The child must have something to lean upon until it can walk; the barbaric worshiper must have symbols and ceremonies to aid his comprehension. These should have passed ere this in Europe and America. A religious rite appropriate to semi-savages becomes, when injected into an age of civilization, that good custom which doth corrupt the world. The people, seeing these savage non-essentials insisted upon by the priesthood as something sacred and necessary unto Salvation, turn skeptic and reject religion altogether because it is encumbered by ridiculous rubbish. O, when will men understand that the whole world is a temple and all right living is worship!”