The Unwashen Hands.

(The Gospel History, Section 65)

And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God, because of your tradition? Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men. For God said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or his mother, that wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is Corban, that is to say, given to God; he shall not honour his father; and ye no longer suffer him to do aught for his father or his mother; making void the word of God by your tradition which ye have delivered: and many other such like things ye do. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, as it is written,

This people honoureth me with their lips,
But their heart is far from me.
But in vain do they worship me,
Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.

Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition. And he called unto him the multitude again, and said unto them, Hear me all of you and understand: There is nothing from without the man that going into him can defile him: but the things that proceed out of the man are those that defile the man.


(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV, Book II, Poem XXXII)

Why vex ye a man with laws he cannot keep,
Cause strivings in his conscience,—which to do,—
Because of your tradition;—

Whether t’ obey God’s great first law of love,—
Cherish his parents with his gifts and care,
Or bring gifts to the Temple?

‘Corban’ ye bid him call it, all that share
Of his wealth, his aged father’s righteous due,
That ye lay greedy hands on;

He shall not honour father nor his mother,
That poor man; ‘given to God’ is all he hath,
According to your ruling:

Nor knows the man he gives to God then most
When most he honours them who gave him birth,
And keeps his God’s commandment.

Ye hypocrites, full well Isaiah spake
Of men who should honour God with ready lips
While their hearts be far from Him!

Precepts of men ye teach as laws of God
(Rejecting all the laws which be divine),
For those do magnify you.”

And, lo, the Lord turned from the Pharisees
And scribes, who offered there to hungry men
Dry sawdust of tradition:

And to the multitude of ignorant folk
He spake: “Now hear ye Me, and understand
Words that shall give you freedom!

All things that be without a man,—or meat,
Or drink, or cup defiled, or unwashed hands,—
In these is no defilement.

Not by what enters him is man defiled:
’Tis that proceeds from him makes him unclean,
Unmeet for God’s high service.

If, greedy, he consume his meat nor think
To give to the hungry, if he drink in lust
Or craving for excitement;

If sloth constrain him all besmirched to go,
Unkempt, offensive to the eyes of men,
A shameful, slothful person,—

See you, ’tis sloth that makes the man unclean,
Sloth is his vile offence, not casual soil
Contracted in the market:

’Tis not his meat and drink that hurt the man,
But that consuming greed and drunkard’s lust,
Come out of his heart, defile him.”

St. Matthew xv. 3-11.
St. Mark vii. 6-15.
Isaiah xxix. 13.