The Pharisees Scoff

The Pharisees Scoff

Of the right use of Riches. The unjust Steward.

(The Gospel History, Section 111)

And the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard 
all these things; and they scoffed at him. And he said 
unto them, Ye are they that justify yourselves in the sight of men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fall. Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband committeth adultery.

The Pharisees Scoff

(The Saviour of the World, Vol VII Book I Poem III)

How did this scorn of mammon irritate
The Pharisees, lovers of money! See,
They scoff and cry “Who hath not had knownst
The ease of wealth, the joy of doing good.
The supremacy belongs to him who hath gold?
As well should beggar holding bowl for alms
Mock at the service of a lordly house,
And say, “For me no cook, no viands choice,
My meal comes as the birds’, prepared and fit,
Not harrass’d, I, with nice observances!”
So he that hath not boasts o’er them that have!

The Lord. Ye talk as men talk, praise and men esteem,
Ye own what all men covet, are admired,
What more has life to offer? In man’s sight,
Happy are ye, the envy of the crowd,
Ye haughty rich men!

Pharisee. Is not that enough?
What more would have them to stand well with men
And test abundance?

The Lord. What’s amiss with you?
All this ye have; whence the uneasy thoughts
That frett your dreams, drive sleep and ease away?
Ye know, from all your getting, God is there;
He is aware of that poor sordid place,
Bereft of furnishings of grace and joy,
the rich man’s soul!

Pharisee. Nay, man, but who can give
Save him who hath? The rich man giveth alms
And the poor rise up and bless him.

The Lord. What men give
proclaim them not acceptable to God
But what they love, desire exceedingly
Nor ever let it from their thoughts remove;
Thus serve ye riches, which, abhorr’d of God
Is your desire, your ever present thought
The single coin entrusted of you!

The Pharisee. Thinkst then that no rich man can please his God?
What of our father Abraham?

The Lord. Many rich
Sit down with Abraham. But these men knew
Their riches lent for service

Pharisees. What of us?

The Lord. Nay, rich of God your thoughts no sense have ye
That ye hold a loan, with interest to be paid!
Ye order life alone, that men may praise;
They praise, indeed; but see you, as a book
Unrolled, your hearts are read of God. He looks
With other eyes. All pomp and circumstance
That catch men’s eyes, abhorr’d are they of Him
Be there no humble adoration there.

The Pharisee. Now hear ye all, this Man defies the Law,
A demagogue, he slights the prophets, too,
And scribes who then interpret, Off with Him!
Such pestilent fellows in the celestial air!

The Lord. The law and the prophets, as be known to you,
Are of the past: they lasted until John
Since then, not these but the kingdom of God is preached
And men by violence enter. Now stand still
To hear scribes teach, see priests make sacrifice
And find him in the kingdom: by his act
His painful effort; strenuous struggles, he,
The violent man doth enter.

The Pharisee. This man abjures the Law as we said!

The Lord. The Prophets, I crown!
That so; the Law must needs persist so love
Ay heaven and earth endure. A man offends,
And, lo, the punishment for that offense!
How other can it be while full ripe fig
Falls to the ground, not circles in the air?
The Law consists with life and must be so:
But all those glosses on the Law, smooth way
By which the rich transgress nor ever pay
Due penalty; put wife away, and straight—
Another take, and all is well if he
Conforms to temple rules, pay given dues,—
These things are not the Law, but men’s desire;
Marriage is final; and none may abrogate;
And, lo, the Law is eternal as the heavens!

St. Luke xvi. 14-18