The Splendour of God, by Eric Hammond, , at sacred-texts.com
"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.
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.
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
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:
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:
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.
This pronouncement of Baha’u’llah is as lucid as it is steadfast:
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."
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:
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.
The Blessed Perfection (Baha’u’llah) came from Persia, which is not a prominent nation.
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.