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The Splendour of God, by Eric Hammond, [1909], at

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"In the Beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was Good."

To trace the Word back to the beginning of things, if that were possible, would be to lead back also to the heart of things; to the soul of religion; the light that has illumined all human efforts towards the construction of some external evidence, some symbolic representation, of the spiritual potentiality in mankind.

It is alleged that creeds tend inevitably to ossification; that the vitality of religions is apt to lose itself in their development; that the embroideries of ritual serve, finally, only to obscure the light which they profess to adorn and magnify.

Nothing, throughout history, has been more painfully demonstrated than the barriers to brotherhood built up by the rivalry of religions; a rivalry often more fully emphasised than softened by missionary zeal.

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Yet the Source of Spirituality must be one, even as God is one; and the differing languages and systems by means of which spirituality strives to assert itself, although they go far in the direction of perpetuating division between races and men, have, after all, a common origin lying dim and only partially realisable in the shadow of the bygone.

Bahais claim not only the acknowledgment of the spiritual relationship of all men, but its practical endorsement. Visitors to Abbas Effendi, at his home in Acca, are of many tongues and many nations. He has ardent adherents in America, England, France, and Germany, besides thousands of disciples Eastern in education and in temperament. Men of opposing peoples and professions eat at his table together, and the Master himself waits upon his guests in sacred service.

This much has certainly been brought about.

Bahais claim, too, the adhesion of at least a third of the Persian people. They assure us also that the Light, from Acca, has expelled the darkness of division from minds schooled in distrust, if not in hatred, of other minds. More; they claim that Bahaism has, and holds aloft in the light of men, the Light of Love; a light that cannot fail to rend asunder the veil of separation, and enable man to see and love man, notwithstanding any divergence of nation or origin, of colour, caste, or creed.

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The shining of this light of love shows man to man as he is, for its rays penetrate the concealing folds of ignorance and suspicion consequent to ignorance.

Wherever Bahais meet they meet on common ground. Throwing aside all the accumulated antagonisms of the past, they rejoice unreservedly in the glad communion of the present; of the day of their Lord.

If Acca, or Rangoon, Paris, London, or New York be their centre of resort, no question of theological theories is permitted to strike a discordant note. Brotherhood, among them, is not merely a "may-be;" it is a visible, actual fact. Buddhist and Mohammedan, Hindu and Zoroastrian, Jew and Christian, sit at one board in amity, eat of one dish, and offer united thanksgiving to one Giver. This most remarkable perception and practice of unity is the result of the light of "The glory of the glory of God."

Illumined by this light, men are no longer blinded by fear of one another; fear is utterly cast out by this light of love. Fear; of violence, of over-reaching, of any evil-doing; fear;—is transformed into fraternity.

The Light "that lighteth every man that cometh into this world," finds its opportunity open. This is the light towards which Bahaism bids all men turn. Luminosity creates love. Before it, darkness and shadows flee away, and

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doubt, born of darkness, dies. It is the design of Bahaism that men shall not look for evil in one another, but for good. The utterance of Asoka, in his memorable charge to missionaries, is re-uttered by Bahaism to-day:—"'Remember that everywhere you will find some sort of faith and righteousness. See that you foster this, and do not destroy"; and the new utterance is accentuated by inalienable faith in the efficiency of the Light.

In a Talk given by the Master, Abbas Effendi, in Acca, he said:

"Our spiritual perception, our inward sight must be opened, so that we see the signs and traces of God's Spirit in everything. Everything can speak to us of God; everything can reflect to us the Light of the Spirit. When we look at people, we must look at them for the spirit that is in them: we must see them in their relation to God,—that they are His creatures and belonging to Him. We must not look at the faults and imperfections of people, but at the spirit within which causes them to live. Therefore when we look at a man, and love and praise him, the praise is for the signs of God upon him. We must always strive to have a heart clear and pure, so that the Light of the Spirit may be reflected from it in all its fulness."

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Differences and distinctions created by creeds are obliterated by the light which shines, glowing and undisturbed, from the one source of all religious impulse and all religious life. Bahaism affirms that all the great prophets and seers, inspirers of great religious movements, were manifestations of the One Divine Light, the One Holy Spirit of God, and that the inspiration is essentially one; notwithstanding divergencies induced by racial or climatic or sacerdotal influence.

The Master, Abbas Effendi, has declared:

"O People! the Doors of the Kingdom are opened; the Sun of Truth is shining upon the world; the Greatest and Most Glorious Light is now manifest to illumine the hearts of men. . . . The Light of Knowledge hath appeared, before which the darkness of every superstitious fancy will be annihilated."

Invited to enquire into the "motif" and the bearing of the Bahais, we are immediately notified that the secret, the impulse, the performance of the underlying principle of unity is indubitably with them. We find in them a consistency, a harmony, commanding reverential consideration. Their attitude towards men of all lands and all languages; their philosophic and practical acceptance of the oneness of real religion, compel our studious recognition.

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This pronouncement of Baha’u’llah is as lucid as it is steadfast:

"O ye discerning ones of the people! Verily the words which have descended from the Heaven of the Will of God are the source of Unity and Harmony for the world. Close your eyes to racial differences. Welcome all with the light of oneness. Be the cause of the comfort and the advancement of humanity. This handful of dust, the world, is one home; let it be in unity. Forsake pride: it is a cause of discord. Follow that which leads to harmony."

The spiritual unification of the race is the great aim of Bahaism. It does not propose the wholesale disintegration of creeds and cults, but, looking through these, discerns the shining of the light, behind, beyond. It recognises the truth in each religious phase, but decries any attempt of any phase to pose as sole interpretation of the truth.

It regards the Kingdom of God as universal rather than particular in the range of its realm. Each prophet, each seer, had his message to deliver, and the burden of that message, rightly interpreted, was "The Lord our God is one God"; not "The Lord our God is for one people."

"These supreme, holy souls" (the prophets or manifestations) "are God-like in their

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attributes. The garments in which they appear are different, but the attributes are the same. In their real and intrinsic power, they show forth the Perfection of God. The reality of God in them never varies; only the garment in which the Primal Reality is clothed is different according to the time and place of their appearance and declaration to the world. One day it is the garment of Abraham, then Moses, then Jesus, then Baha’u’llah. Knowledge of this oneness is true enlightenment. Some see the garment only and worship the Personality; some see the reality and worship in spirit and in truth. Some of the Hebrews admired the embroidered beauty of the garment of Abraham, but were blind to the Real Light which shone upon the darkness of the world through him. Moses was denied, Jesus was denied, crucified; all have been denied and persecuted for this reason. Men see the garment and are blind to the reality; worship the Personality and do not know the Truth, the Light itself. Some worship the Tree of Life, but do not eat of the blessed Fruit of the Tree. Therefore differences and disagreements arise in religious belief. If all men ate of the Fruit itself, they could never disagree. . . . Terms are of no importance. The Fruits of the Tree should be our desire.

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[paragraph continues] These are the spiritual 'grapes.' Find the Light itself, and there will be no difference of opinion or belief as to the Personality or Degree of the Manifestations of God."

To Jesus the Christ this question was put by His disciples: "Tell us, What is the Sign of Thy Presence?" Our Lord replied, "As the lightning doth come forth from the East and doth appear unto the West, so shall be also the Presence of the Son of Man." The manifestation that instructs Bahaism to-day says:

"The greatest proof of a manifestation is the Manifestation Himself.

We do not have to prove the existence of the sun. The sun is independent of proof. He who has sight can see the sun and prove it for himself. . . . The sun's light is indispensable. . . .

God with all his qualities is independent of all His creatures. Look at the Christ. He was a youth of Israel, not a great and honoured man, but from a poor family. He was so poor that He was born in a manger; yet He changed the conditions of the whole world. What proof could be greater than this that He was from God? . . .

Without this Light the world could not grow spiritually.

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The Blessed Perfection (Baha’u’llah) came from Persia, which is not a prominent nation.

The great Prophets did not enter school to be taught of men; yet so many things did they manifest that at last we must admit that the world is not able to destroy the wisdom of the Prophets or grow without them. . . . How the Truth in Christ spread all over the world! . . . The Light of God will shine, must shine. . . . The Blessed Perfection, during His own lifetime, had one thousand followers who believed in Him. Only one proved ungrateful, yet he did not deny Baha’u’llah. Many were martyred with His Name upon their lips."

Here, in small compass, lies the assumption and the promise of Bahaism; the aspiration of Abbas Effendi of Acca; and the "sure and certain hope" of all those who serve under his standard to-day.

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