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"The Call of God"
O PEOPLE! The doors of the kingdom are opened—the Sun of Truth is shining upon the world—the fountains of life are flowing—the daysprings of mercy have appeared—the greatest and Most Glorious Light is now manifest to illuminate the hearts of men. Wake up and hear the voice of God calling from all parts of the Supreme World: "Come unto Me, O ye children of men! Come unto Me, O ye who are thirsty, and drink from this sweet Water which is descending in torrents upon all parts of the globe!"
Now is the time! Now is the accepted time! —ABDUL-BAHA
STAR OF THE WEST
"We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; that all nations shall become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men shall be strengthened; that diversity of religion shall cease and differences of race be annulled. So it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come."—BAHA'O'LLAH.
Vol. VI Massa'ul 1, 71 (December 12, 1915) No. 15
The Call of God*
By GEORGE O. LATIMER
THE Bahai Message has been given to the world on the same basis as that of all the past religions, that is, the acknowledgment of a single divinity which is all-powerful, all-comprehending, all-encompassing. This divinity is an unknown essence, an infinite being known as God. "God, singly and alone, abideth in His own place, which is holy above space and time, mention and utterance, sign, description and definition, height and depth. God alone should be realized as the one power which animates and dominates all things which are but manifestations of its energy." [Baha'o'llah]. All things owe their existence to God and are dependent upon Him for guidance and advancement. All existence testifies to a creator and every kingdom is in need of an educator.
For example, the barren soil when tilled produces abundant crops. By cultivation, fertilization and engrafting, trees which produced bitter fruits, yield sweet fruits. Without the training of the gardener the flowers become choked by weeds and cease to give forth their fragrance. By careful training the animal has become domesticated and is of great service to mankind, but if it is left untrained it remains a wild, often ferocious beast. Man also, if left without training, becomes bestial, in fact he becomes lower than the animal, for the greater number of animals protect their own kind, while men, among the negroes of central Africa, kill and eat one another; whereas if man be educated he becomes a heavenly being. If it were not for education, no facilities or wonderful industries in the world, sciences and arts would be known, and civilization would not exist.
Now man, the greatest of all God's handiwork, is in constant need of education. He is born into the world helpless and remains in this condition for a long time. His faculties are brought into use only by training. He does not speak until taught to do so. Later on he is sent to school and receives instruction in the arts, sciences and needs of humanity. In fact, his whole life from birth to death is one period of learning. As man has material faculties which need development, so he has within him spiritual faculties, latent powers given him by God, which must be awakened.
Thus man is in need of three kinds of education: material, human and spiritual. Material education perfects his physical body and is common to animals as well as men. Human education deals with his civilization and progress. It has to do with the social, economic and civic problems of life. It includes arts, sciences, inventions and all the activities which are essential to man as distinguished from the animal. Divine education consists in acquiring the divine
*Note—Compiled in Stuttgart, Germany, during August, 1914. This manuscript was presented to Abdul-Baha personally by Mr. Latimer while in Akka in October of the same year. Abdul-Baha gave consent to its publication.—The Editors.
perfections, the awakening of the latent spiritual powers within man. This is the real education and confers upon man the supreme goal of the world of humanity: "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness."
Thus it is evident that man needs an educator who must be perfect in all respects in order to impart this education to him. This teacher must aid man in the carrying out of physical matters and the establishment of a proper social and civil organization. He must train the mind, so that it will be able to grasp the reality and purpose of creation, to improve arts, trades and inventions and to master the problems of science; and he must quicken the spiritual susceptibilities, so that he may be freed from self and become illumined with the heavenly attributes of God.
It is clear that no human agency is able to fill this important mission, for since man is unable, in his short lifetime, to acquire perfection in any one of the branches of art, learning, literature or science, how much more impossible is it for him to bestow at the same time perfect material, human and divine education. Can there be a perfect civilization with an imperfect educator? Undoubtedly no one but God, the creator, is able to fulfill this great office. But as man is incapable of knowing God, because it is impossible for the finite mind to comprehend the infinite, this awakening must come through certain channels which are capable of man's comprehension.
These channels are certain men, chosen and prepared by God to express His word in speech and writing and to manifest it in their lives. These men are likened unto polished mirrors which reflect perfectly the rays of the sun, but which are not a part of that sun, and are known as Manifestations of God. "The root of all knowledge is the knowledge of God—Glory be to Him!—and this knowledge is impossible save through His Manifestation [Baha'o'llah].
From time time such a man appears, declares his mission to the world and establishes a civilization—termed dispensation—which lasts for centuries and which becomes the focal point around which the laws and lives of many generations revolve. This civilization which all the governments on the earth have been unable to found, one holy man establishes without any material aid or support. For example, Christ, singly and alone, established a cause and founded a union between many diverse communities, which all the kings of the earth had tried to establish and had failed. History cites many notable examples of this kind, among whom are Abraham, Moses, Mohammed and Christ.
History also shows us that although each one of these educators of the world of humanity was of lowly and humble birth, without schooling or instruction, yet they were endowed with erudition, and the wisest philosophers have not displayed one-thousandth part of the influence manifested by these holy men. This power was not due to their human attainments but to the divine word which spoke through them. The divine words of these educators of humanity have certain characteristics which prove them to be from a higher source than man. It is their direct appeal to the hearts and lives of men, rather than an appeal to the intellects. The words of a great writer appeal only to the mind of a man, while the word of God, speaking through His Manifestations, appeals directly to his heart or soul. The soul is the lamp, while mind is the light which comes from the lamp. Therefore, in order to have illumination the lamp must first be lit. This word of God has ever enkindled the lamp of humanity. It has made a resistless advance against all earthly powers, overcoming ignorance and darkness, dispersing former conceptions and superstitions, and creating new ideals and higher morals. Its permanency has outlasted kingdoms, dynasties and philosophies.
STAR OF THE WEST
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TABLET FROM ABDUL-BAHA.
HE IS GOD!
O thou Star of the West!
Be thou happy! Be thou happy! Shouldst thou continue to remain firm and eternal, ere long, thou shalt become the Star of the East and shalt spread in every country and clime. Thou art the first paper of the Bahais which is organized in the country of America. Although for the present thy subscribers are limited, thy form is small and thy voice weak, yet shouldst thou stand unshakable, become the object of the attention of the friends and the center of the generosity of the leaders of the faith who are firm in the Covenant, in the future thy subscribers will become hosts after hosts like unto the waves of the sea; thy volume will increase, thy arena will become vast and spacious and thy voice and fame will be raised and become world-wide—and at last thou shalt become the first paper of the world of humanity. Yet all these depend upon firmness, firmness, firmness!
(Signed) ABDUL-BAHA ABBAS.
Whenever one appears in the world, equipped with these qualifications, and by his words and deeds such a result follows, can we not safely him to be a true messenger of God and worthy of our greatest love and respect? Shall we remain in the darkness of doubt and denial, as in former ages, or shall we become illumined by acceptance and enlightenment?
"Look ye at the time of Christ; had the people realized that the holy spirit of God was speaking to them through his divine mouth they would not have waited three centuries before accepting him, and now is it meet for you that you are sleeping on the bed of idleness and neglect, while the Father foretold by Christ has come amongst us and opened the greatest door of bounteous gifts and divine favors? Let us not be like those in past centuries who were deaf to his call and blind to his beauty; but let us try and open our eyes that we may see him, and open our ears that we may hear him, and cleanse our hearts that he may come and abide in our temples" [Abdul-Baha].
It is a law of nature that stagnation is the cause of retrogression and death. Man must always advance and for this purpose God has sent His Manifestations, from age to age, for the guidance and assistance of mankind. From the time of Adam and Enoch to that of Moses and Christ and down to the present day, such divine leaders have appeared, guiding man through the various highways and byways and leading him through the different stages of development from childhood to the present manhood of the race. Man has never been without such instructions. Each one of these teachers gave the same message: "The Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man," but in the terminologies of the race and the exigencies of the time, and according to the capacity of the people to whom he came. Each of these messengers had a threefold mission. First, to fulfill the prophecies of the prophets who preceded him and heralded his coming. Second, to be the unique source of all divine knowledge and instruction during his dispensation. Third, to prepare the way for the coming of the great latter-day Messiah, who would establish God's kingdom of "Peace on earth as it is in heaven."
Christ did not establish this kingdom but heralded its coming. As a proof of this he said: "I came not to send peace, but a sword," and the Christian dispensation has been one of warfare and strife.
The Christian nations have perfected the deadliest instruments for the cruel
and bloody destruction of mankind. One has only to look at the present condition existing in the world and ask himself if it is the divine will of God that nine nations of the world should be at war with one another thus destroying the greatest of all God's handiwork. The very foundations of our existence have been shaken by division and inharmony, strife and enmity, oppression and inequality. The conflict of thoughts and ideas is raging; one sees the persecution of the poor and hears the sighs of agony of the wretched. From all sides sound the discordant strains of the folly and heedlessness of those who have turned from God. The rights of men, nations and races have been lost in the whirlpool of greed, thoughtlessness and ambition; even the very right of existence is denied to some. This is indeed the time of calamity and separation of which Christ spoke (Mark 13 :8). "For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom! and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows."
In the spiritual world there is a similar conflict. Theology is arrayed against science, creeds and dogmas deafen the ears of man, and forms and ceremonies blind his sight. In the United States alone there are one hundred and thirty-two Christian sects, each one professing to have the only true way of attaining the kingdom, thus disobeying the express commandments of all the divine messengers. In like manner in the eastern world there are antagonizing sects among the Mohammedans, Buddhists and Hindoos, each claiming to be the pure religion of God.
But how can the glorious and heavenly kingdom of God be established amidst this mess without first laying the essential foundation of unity, peace and justice? Is it not time for a new guide to come and clear away the debris of ignorance and superstition and again make manifest the path of God?
Fortunately there is a ray of hope for the world is a-quiver with the longing and expectation of the appearance of the new Sun of Truth, the new peacemaker. The Jews are expecting the coming of the Messiah; the Christians are looking for the second coming of Christ, and in the eastern world a similar anticipation is prevalent. The Moslems expect the coming of their promised one, the Imam Mahdi, the Buddhists hope for the coming of the fifth Buddha, the Zoroastrians are longing for Shah Bahram, and the Hindoos await the appearance of the tenth incarnation of truth, called Kalki, while the people of modern and advanced thought are expecting the coming of the Great Master who will right all the conditions of this decadent world.
In order to bring about this change and to cure all the ailments of mankind this Great Master must fulfill certain conditions: "He must be the educator of the world of humanity; his teachings must be universal and confer illumination upon mankind; his knowledge must be innate and spontaneous, and not acquired; he must answer the questions of all the sages, solve all the difficult problems of humanity, and be able to withstand all the persecutions and sufferings heaped upon him; he must be a joy-bringer and the herald of the kingdom of happiness; his knowledge must be infinite and his wisdom all-comprehensive; the penetration of his word and the potency of his influence must be so great as to humble even his worst enemies; sorrows and tribulations must not vex him. His courage and conviction must be God-like. Day by day he must become firmer and more zealous; he must be the establisher of universal civilization, the unifier of religions, the standard-bearer of universal peace, and the embodiment of all the highest and noblest virtues of the world of humanity."*
*From a talk given by Abdul-Baha to a large delegation of Theosophists in Hôtel Ritz, Budapest, April 11, 1913.
When one sees that all of these conditions are fulfilled in one human temple, then he may safely turn to him for guidance and illumination.
The Bahai Revelation brings the fulfillment of all these hopes and conditions to the world. It is a renewal of religion to man. It brings the spring-time of a new life and ideals. In the words of Abdul-Baha: "The Bahai Movement is not an organization. You can never organize the Bahai Cause. The Bahai Movement is the spirit of this age. It is the essence of all the highest ideals of this century. The Bahai Cause is an inclusive movement: the teachings of all the religions and societies are found here; the Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mohammedans, Zoroastrians, Theosophists, Freemasons, Spiritualists, et al., find their highest aims in this Cause. Even the Socialists and philosophers find their theories fully developed in this Movement."
This Movement had its beginning May 23, 1844, with the appearance of a young Persian, called the Bab (the Persian or Arabic Word for door or gate) who, although unschooled and untrained, arose among the great doctors of Islam who were ruling the people in spiritual ignorance at that time, and proclaimed himself to be the forerunner of "Him-whom-God-shall-manifest." He taught and prepared the people for this coming during a period of six years, at the end of which time he was martyred by the Mohammedan clergy, together with thousands of his followers. Nineteen years after this declaration, Mirza, Hussein Ali of Noor, more widely known as Baha'o'llah (which means the Glory of God manifest) announced to the world by means of letters to the rulers and crowned heads of all nations, that he was the promised one of all religions and the one whom God would manifest. He declared that the time was at hand for the "most great peace," the cessation of strife and warfare and the unity and harmony of all the world. He renewed the word of every prophet as to the oneness and fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and taught the abolition of differences existing between religions. He suffered the most severe persecutions at the hands of the Mohammedan clergy and after the confiscation of his property he was banished with a number of followers, first to Bagdad in Asiatic Turkey, then to Adrianople and finally, in 1868, he was sent to the prison city of Acca, which lies at the foot of Mount Carmel, the home of the prophets, in Syria. Here he remained until his death in 1892, but although in constant imprisonment and hardship he was able to spread his message to all parts of the world and leave his Cause firmly established. After his departure, Baha'o'llah commanded his followers to turn to Abbas Effendi, the Center of God's Covenant, for guidance. Abbas Effendi, the eldest son of Baha'o'llah—who prefers to be called Abdul-Baha (the Servant of God)—went into exile with his father at the early age of nine years, remaining with him until the latter's death, and sharing all his deprivations. In 1908 after fifty-six years of persecution, hardship and imprisonment, forty years of which were spent in the prison of Acca, Abdul-Baha was given his freedom by the new Turkish Republic. Since that time he has been unceasingly at work spreading the glorious message of Baha'o'llah. He has come from the east to the west, visiting many countries of Europe, including England, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and traveling extensively throughout America, awakening the people from their lethargic sleep on the bed of negligence with this call:
"Do you know in what day you are living? Do you realize in what dispensation you are alive? Have you not read in the holy scriptures that at the consummation of the ages there shall appear a day which is the sun of all the past days?
"This is the day in which the Lord of Hosts has come down from heaven on the clouds of glory! This is the day in
which the inhabitants of all the world shall enter under the tent of the word of God. This is the day whose real sovereign is His Highness, The Almighty. This is the day when the east and the west shall embrace each other like unto two lovers. This is the day in which war and contention shall be forgotten. This is the day in which nations and governments will enter into an eternal bond of amity and conciliation. This century is the fulfillment of the Promised Century."
The east shall become illumined, the west perfumed and the children of men shall enter beneath the all-embracing canopy of the oneness of the world of humanity.
Indeed all the prophecies of the past have been fulfilled by this call, which has gone out to the world from the prison city of Acca. In speaking of this time, Hosea (2:15) said: "And I will give the valley of Acca for a door of hope." Solomon (Eccl. 4:14) said: "For out of prison he cometh to reign." Micah (7:12) spoke: "In that day, he shall come to thee from Assyria." Isaiah (35:2), that: "Carmel and Sharon they shall see the glory of the Lord"; and Christ (Matt. 24): "For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even to the west, so shall the coming of the son of man be." Again there are many utterances of the prophet Mohammed regarding Acca. He said to one of his followers, Ebne Masoud: "The greatest of all sea-coasts in the sight of God is Ascalon, but Acca is greater than Ascalon; the greatness of Acca to Ascalon and all other sea-coasts can be compared with the greatness of Mohamrned to all other prophets. Be mindful of what I say unto you concerning a city which lies between two mountains (Carmel and Lebanon) in Palestine in the midst of a plain which is called Acca." To Ons, another follower, Mohammed said: "I inform you about a city on the coast of the white sea (the Mediterranean) which is called Acca; anyone who remains there seven days, God will regard him as the associate of Elijah and God will redeem him from the gnashing of teeth in the day of resurrection." Again, "Blessed is the one who has visited Acca and blessed is the one who has seen the visitor of Acca," and many other similar utterances.
These three divine men (the Bab, Baha'o'llah and Abdul-Baha) have not only fulfilled the spiritual prophecies of all the former religions, but they have manifested by their words and deeds all the true qualities and requisites necessary to the divine and perfect educator. The Bab, a young merchant, untrained and unschooled, was able, at the age of twenty-five, to confound the most erudite doctors of the religion of Islam. Alone, he was able to withstand all the great men of religion and state who arose to exterminate his life and teachings, and he produced a great change in the corrupt morals, thoughts and customs of Persia. At that time, when the persecution, pillage and massacre of the Bab's followers was at its height, Baha'o'llah arose to promulgate his teachings. Although a person of noble birth, he had never studied in any school nor associated with the learned men of religion, yet he manifested such knowledge and perfection that all the people of Persia marvelled at his wisdom while his enemies spoke of him as "the renowned Baha'o'llah." He was exiled four times and for fifty years he was exposed to the gravest dangers and persecutions, yet in that decadent and declined civilization of Persia, he advanced teachings and ideals that were unheard or unthought of even in our western civilization. He proclaimed: The oneness of the world of humanity; the investigation of truth so that no one should blindly follow the beliefs and superstitions of his forefathers; the oneness of God and the oneness of all religions; that the purpose of religion is the creation of unity, harmony and accord amongst men and if it fails in this, irreligion is better than religion; the agreement of religion and science, for that which is not in accord with
science is superstition; the equal rights of man and woman; the abolition of religious, sectarian, sectional, denominational and patriotic prejudices,—"Glory is not his who loves his country, but glory is his who loves his kind"; the non-interference of religion and politics; universal peace amongst nations, races and religions; a universal language; the pursuit of education and the necessity for every one to engage in some occupation, art or trade, for this will be accounted an act of worship before God; the solution of the economic problem of the world and the organization and establishment of Houses of Justice for the administration of the law and the means of philanthropic and social betterment; in fact, all the needs and demands of our present civilization have been provided for in the writings of Baha'o'llah and the teachings of Abdul-Baha, who without any opportunity for education, has never failed to answer convincingly the questions of the most learned philosophers, religionists and scientific men of the orient and the occident, and who by his life of servitude and sacrifice to humanity, has become the means of the realization of these teachings.
Can a just judgment, after reflection and consideration, deny the reality of these educators? Their Cause invites investigation and their message is for all ears. Every person whether spiritual or materialist can find his questions and difficulties solved by these educators. Does it behoove us then to turn our eyes from these manifest signs and to shut our ears to the call of God? It is of the greatest importance, for our future as well as present welfare to investigate the purpose and teachings of these educators and to hearken to their divine call, which has been expressed by Abdul-Baha as follows:
"The foundation of Divine Religion is love, affinity and concord. Praise God that this cycle is the period of illumination! Minds have made great progress; intelligences have been unfolded; the means of unity and agreement are brought about; communication between the races of men is rapidly established. Now is the time that all of us may embrace the law of peace and treat each other with honesty and straightforwardness. Let the religious prejudices be wiped away. Let the law of racial supremacy be discontinued. Let political expediencies be done away with. Let the love of country be superceded by the love of the world. Let us all deal with each other with infinite kindness. We are all the servants at the one Divine Threshold. We are all receiving the rays of truth from the same Sun of Reality. We must all believe in all of the prophets. We must all acknowledge the divine authority of all the heavenly books. We must wash our hearts free of all human prejudices. We must serve God. We must propagate the oneness of the realm of humanity. We must be the cause of the appearance of the perfections in the world of man. We must not be like the beasts of prey. We must not allow carnage and bloodshed. We must regard the blood of man as sacred. We must not shed the holy blood of man for the paltry earth. We must all agree upon one fundamental principle—that principle is the oneness of the kingdom of humanity.
"In this age, Baha'o'llah has breathed the Holy Spirit into the dead body of the world. Consequently every weak soul is strengthened by these fresh divine outbreathings. Every poor man will become rich, every darkened soul will become illumined, every ignorant one will become wise, because the confirmations of the Holy Spirit are descending like unto torrents. A new era of divine consciousness is upon us. The world of humanity is going through a process of transformation. A new race is being developed. The thoughts of human brotherhood are permeating all regions. New ideals are stirring the depths of hearts and a new spirit of universal consciousness is being profoundly felt by all men."