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Meditation 726

by: Robert G. Ingersoll

from Prose-Poems and Selections from the Writings and Sayings of Robert G. Ingersoll, published by C.P. Farrell, New York 1884

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IF Christ was indeed God, he knew all the future. Before him, like a panorama, moved the future yet to be. He knew exactly how his words would be interpreted. He knew what crimes, what horrors, what infamies, would be committed in his name. He knew that the fires of persecution would climb around the limbs of countless martyrs. He knew that brave men would languish in dungeons, in darkness, filled with pain ; that the Church would use instruments of torture, that his followers would appeal to whip and chain. He must have seen the horizon of the future red with the flames of the auto da fe. He knew all the creeds that would spring like poisonous fungi from every text. He saw the sects waging war against each other. He saw thousands of men, under the orders of priests, building dungeons for their fellow-men. He heard the groans, saw the faces white with agony, the tears, the blood–heard the shrieks of all the martyred multitudes. He knew that commentaries would be written on his words with swords, to be read by the light of fagots. He knew that the Inquisition would be born of teachings attributed to him. He saw all the interpolations and falsehoods that hypocrisy would write and tell. He knew that above those fields of death, these dungeons, these burnings, for a thousand years would float the dripping banner of the cross. He knew that in his names his followers would trade in human flesh, that cradles would be robbed, and women’s breasts unbabed for gold, and yet he died with voiceless lips.

Why did he fail to speak ? Why did he not tell his disciples, and through them the world, that man should not persecute, for opinion’s sake, his fellow-man ? Why did he not cry, You shall not persecute in my name ; you shall not burn and persecute those who differ from you in creed ? Why did he not plainly say, I am the Son of God ? Why did he not explain the doctrine of the trinity ? Why did he not tell the manner of baptism that was pleasing to him ? Why did he not say something positive, definite, and satisfactory about another world ? Why did he not turn the tear-stained hope of heaven to the glad knowledge of another life ? Why did he go dumbly to his death, leaving the world to misery and to doubt.