Manuscript Releases, vol. 15 [Nos. 1136-1185]


The Evils of Pharisaism

In every age of the world there have been some who professed Christ while they were pursuing an erroneous course of seclusion or of Pharisaical preeminence. But they have not blessed their fellow men. They have found no excuse in the life of Christ for this self-righteous bigotry, for His character was genial and beneficent. He would have been excluded from every monastic order on earth because of overstepping their prescribed rules. 15MR 132.2

In every church and denomination are to be found erratics who would have blamed him for His liberal mercies; they would have accused Him of worldly conformity in attending a wedding feast; and would have censured him severely, and criticized his conduct unmercifully for permitting His friends to make a supper in honor of Himself and His disciples. But on these very occasions, by His precious teachings and by His generous conduct, He was enshrining Himself in the hearts of those whom He honored with His presence. He was thus giving them an opportunity to become acquainted with Himself, so that they might have a knowledge of His character, and might see the marked contrast which His life and teachings presented to that of the Pharisees who were spies upon His track, condemning every move He made which was not in harmony with their bigoted, selfish ideas of salvation. 15MR 132.3

While we may maintain a firm trust in God, receiving light and strength and power from Him, it is our duty to let the light reflected upon us shine forth to others, that the world may see this light in contrast with the darkness of error and superstition. My dear brethren in Switzerland, you have much to learn. There is an icy chilliness, a reserve, like that of the Pharisees, that must be broken down. You are not willing to become learners, but, like the Pharisees, desire to be dictators, teachers. 15MR 133.1

God sent His Son to give the Pharisees a better understanding of His claims, a more perfect knowledge of the truth, and to show them the best manner in which to help their fellow men. But they refused the divine instruction. They thought Christ was too liberal. His ways did not agree with their ways; and instead of thinking the improvement must be made in their lives, to bring them into harmony with the life of Christ, they wanted to convert Christ to a unison with them. They thought His differing in manner from them would hurt their influence and disannul their teachings. They refused to cooperate with Christ, and thus cast their influence against Him, working out their own purposes, which placed them in irretrievable darkness. 15MR 133.2

Those with whom God has entrusted His truth must so order their intercourse with the world as to secure to themselves a calm, hallowed peace, as well as a sacred and most thorough knowledge of how to meet men with their prejudices, where they are, and minister to them the light, comfort, and peace found in the acceptance of the truth of God. They should take for example the inspiring, authoritative, and social life of Christ. They must cultivate the same beneficent spirit which He possessed, and must cherish the same broad plans of action in meeting men where they are. 15MR 133.3

They should have a kind, generous spirit toward the poor, and in a special sense feel that we are God's stewards. They must hold all they have as not their own, but lent them in trust to advance the cause of Christ upon the earth. Like Christ, they should not shun the society of their fellow men, but encourage it, with the purpose of bestowing upon others the heavenly benefits God has given them.—Letter 2a, 1878, pp. 3-4. (Written August 29, 1878, from Ballardvale, Mass., to Brethren in Switzerland.) 15MR 134.1