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Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

  • Author:
  • Bahá’u’lláh

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988 pocket-size edition
  • Pages:
  • 181
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Pages 101-120

[Pages 101–120]

been sent down from the heaven of His Cause than all the books of the world bowed down before them? Meditate, that thou mayest be made aware of thine act, O heedless outcast! Erelong will the breaths of chastisement seize thee, as they seized others before thee. Wait, O thou who hast joined partners with God, the Lord of the visible and the invisible. This is the day which God hath announced through the tongue of His Apostle. Reflect, that thou mayest apprehend what the All-Merciful hath sent down in the Qur’án and in this inscribed Tablet. This is the day whereon He Who is the Dayspring of Revelation hath come with clear tokens which none can number. This is the day whereon every man endued with perception hath discovered the fragrance of the breeze of the All-Merciful in the world of creation, and every man of insight hath hastened unto the living waters of the mercy of his Lord, the King of Kings. O heedless one! The tale of the Sacrifice (Ishmael) hath been retold, and he who was to be offered up hath directed his steps towards the place of sacrifice, and returned not, by reason of that which thy hand hath wrought, O perverse hater! Didst thou imagine that martyrdom could abase this Cause? Nay, by Him Whom God hath made to be the Repository of His Revelation, if thou be of them that comprehend. Woe betide thee, O thou who hast joined partners with God, and woe betide them that have taken thee as their leader, without a clear token or 102 a perspicuous Book. How numerous the oppressors before thee who have arisen to quench the light of God, and how many the impious who murdered and pillaged until the hearts and souls of men groaned by reason of their cruelty! The sun of justice hath been obscured, inasmuch as the embodiment of tyranny hath been stablished upon the throne of hatred, and yet the people understand not. O foolish one! Thou hast slain the children of the Apostle and pillaged their possessions. Say: Was it, in thine estimation, their possessions or themselves that denied God? Judge fairly, O ignorant one that hath been shut out as by a veil from God. Thou hast clung to tyranny, and cast away justice; whereupon all created things have lamented, and still thou art among the wayward. Thou hast put to death the aged, and plundered the young. Thinkest thou that thou wilt consume that which thine iniquity hath amassed? Nay, by Myself! Thus informeth thee He Who is cognizant of all. By God! The things thou possessest shall profit thee not, nor what thou hast laid up through thy cruelty. Unto this beareth witness thy Lord, the All-Knowing. Thou hast arisen to put out the light of this Cause; erelong will thine own fire be quenched, at His behest. He, verily, is the Lord of strength and of might. The changes and chances of the world, and the powers of the nations, cannot frustrate Him. He doeth what He pleaseth, and ordaineth what He willeth through the power 103 of His sovereignty. Consider the she-camel. Though but a beast, yet hath the All-Merciful exalted her to so high a station that the tongues of the earth made mention of her and celebrated her praise. He, verily, overshadoweth all that is in the heavens and on earth. No God is there but Him, the Almighty, the Great. Thus have We adorned the heaven of Our Tablet with the suns of Our words. Blessed the man that hath attained thereunto, and been illumined with their light, and woe betide such as have turned aside, and denied Him, and strayed far from Him. Praised be God, the Lord of the worlds!”
O Shaykh! We have enabled thee to hear the melodies of the Nightingale of Paradise, and unveiled to thine eyes the signs which God, by His all-compelling behest, hath sent down in the Most Great Prison, that thine eye might be cheered, and thy soul be well-assured. He, verily, is the All-Bounteous, the Generous. Arise thou through the power of His testimony to serve the Cause of God, thy Lord, the God of Mercy. If thy faith be fearful, seize thou My Tablet, and preserve it in the bosom of trust. And when thou enterest into the place of resurrection, and God asketh thee by what proof thou hast believed in this Revelation, draw forth the Tablet and say: “By this Book, the holy, the mighty, the incomparable.” Thereupon all will lift up their hands towards thee, and will seize the Tablet, and will press it to their eyes, and will inhale therefrom the fragrance 104 of the utterance of God, the Lord of the worlds. Were God to torment thee for having believed in His signs in this Revelation, for what reason could He then torment such as have disbelieved in Muḥammad, the Apostle of God, and before Him in Jesus, the Son of Mary, and before Him in the One Who conversed with God (Moses), and before Him in the One Who is the Friend of God (Abraham), and as far back as the One Who was the First Manifestation, Who was created by the will of thy Lord, the Potent, the All-Encompassing. Thus have We sent down Our verses unto one before thee, and recalled them unto thee, in this day, that thou mayest understand, and be of them who are well assured. O thou who assumest the voice of knowledge! This Cause is too evident to be obscured, and too conspicuous to be concealed. It shineth as the sun in its meridian glory. None can deny it unless he be a hater and a doubter.
At this moment it behooveth us to turn unto the Desired One, and cleave unto these most sublime words: “O God, my God! Thou hast lighted the lamp of Thy Cause with the oil of wisdom; protect it from contrary winds. The lamp is Thine, and the glass is Thine, and all things in the heavens and on earth are in the grasp of Thy power. Bestow justice upon the rulers, and fairness upon the divines. Thou art the All-Powerful, Who, through the motion of Thy Pen, hast aided Thine irresistible Cause, and 105 guided aright Thy loved ones. Thou art the Possessor of power, and the King of might. No God is there but Thee, the Strong, the Unconstrained.” Say thou also: “O God, my God! I yield Thee thanks inasmuch as Thou hast made me to drink of Thy Sealed Wine from the hand of the bounty of Thy Name, the Self-Subsisting. I entreat Thee by the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, and by the potency of Thy Most Sublime Word, and by the might of Thy Most Exalted Pen, through Whose movement the realities of all created things have been enraptured, to aid His Majesty the Sháh to render Thy Cause victorious, and to turn towards the horizon of Thy Revelation, and to set his face in the direction of the lights of Thy countenance. Assist him, O my Lord, to draw nigh unto Thee. Help him, then, with the hosts of the heavens and of earth. I implore Thee, O Thou Who art the Lord of all Names and the Maker of the heavens, by the light of Thy Cause, and by the fire of the Lote-Tree of Thy loving-kindness, to help His Majesty to reveal Thy Cause amidst Thy creatures. Open, then, before his face the doors of Thy grace, and Thy mercy, and Thy bounty. Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee by Thy word: ‘Be, and it is.’”
O Shaykh! We had seized the reins of authority by the power of God and His Divine might, as He alone can seize, Who is the Mighty, the Strong. None had the power to stir up mischief or sedition. Now, 106 however, as they have failed to appreciate this loving-kindness and these bounties, they have been, and will be, afflicted with the retribution which their acts must entail. The State officials, considering the secret progress of the Extended Cord have, from every direction, incited and aided Mine adversaries. In the Great City (Constantinople) they have roused a considerable number of people to oppose this Wronged One. Things have come to such a pass that the officials in that city have acted in a manner which hath brought shame to both the government and the people. A distinguished siyyid, whose well-known integrity, acceptable conduct, and commercial reputation, were recognized by the majority of fair-minded men, and who was regarded by all as a highly honored merchant, once visited Beirut. In view of his friendship for this Wronged One they telegraphed the Persian Dragoman informing him that this siyyid, assisted by his servant, had stolen a sum of money and other things and gone to ‘Akká. Their design in this matter was to dishonor this Wronged One. And yet, far be it from the people of this country to allow themselves to be deflected, by these unseemly tales, from the straight path of uprightness and truth. Briefly, they have assaulted Me from every side, and are reinforcing Mine adversaries. This Wronged One, however, beseecheth the one true God to graciously assist every one in that which beseemeth these days. Day and night I fix My gaze on these perspicuous 107 words, and recite: “O God, my God! I beseech Thee by the sun of Thy grace, and the sea of Thy knowledge, and the heaven of Thy justice, to aid them that have denied Thee to confess, and such as have turned aside from Thee to return, and those who have calumniated Thee to be just and fair-minded. Assist them, O my Lord, to return unto Thee, and to repent before the door of Thy grace. Powerful art Thou to do what Thou willest, and in Thy grasp are the reins of all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. Praise be unto God, the Lord of the worlds.”
The time is at hand when whatsoever lieth hid in the souls and hearts of men will be disclosed. This Day is the Day whereof Luqmán spoke unto his son, the Day which the Lord of Glory announced and with which He acquainted Him Who was His Friend (Muḥammad) through these, His words—exalted be He:—“O my son! Verily, God will bring everything to light, though it were but the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, and hidden in a rock or in the heavens or in the earth; for God is Subtile, informed of all.” This Day the deceitful of eye, and all that men’s breasts conceal, are made known and laid bare before the throne of His Revelation. Nothing whatsoever can escape His knowledge. He heareth and seeth, and He, in truth, is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. How very strange that they discern not between the trustworthy and the treacherous!
Would that His Majesty the Sháh of Persia—may 108 God perpetuate his sovereignty—would inquire from the Consuls of the honored Persian Government who have been in this country, that he might become acquainted with the activities and behavior of this Wronged One. Briefly, they have incited a great many such as Akhtar and others, and are busying themselves in spreading calumnies. It is clear and evident that they will surround with their swords of hatred and their shafts of enmity the one whom they know to be an outcast among men and to have been banished from one country to another. This is not the first time that such iniquity hath been perpetrated, nor the first goblet that hath been dashed to the ground, nor the first veil that hath been rent in twain in the path of God, the Lord of the worlds. This Wronged One, however, remained calm and silent in the Most Great Prison, busying Himself with His own affairs, and completely detached from all else but God. Iniquity waxed so grievous that the pens of the world are powerless to record it.
In this connection it is necessary to mention the following occurrence, that haply men may take fast hold of the cord of justice and truthfulness. Ḥájí Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Alí—upon him be the glory of God, the Ever-Abiding—was a merchant of high repute, well-known unto most of the inhabitants of the Great City (Constantinople). Not long ago, when the Persian Embassy in Constantinople was secretly engaged in stirring up mischief, it was noticed 109 that this believing and sincere soul was greatly distressed. Finally, one night he threw himself into the sea, but was rescued by some passers-by who chanced to come upon him at that moment. His act was widely commented upon and given varied interpretations by different people. Following this, one night he repaired to a mosque, and, as reported by the guardian of that place, kept vigil the whole night, and was occupied until the morning in offering, ardently and with tearful eyes, his prayers and supplications. Upon hearing him suddenly cease his devotions, the guardian went to him, and found that he had already surrendered his soul. An empty bottle was found by his side, indicating that he had poisoned himself. Briefly, the guardian, while greatly astonished, broke the news to the people. It was found out that he had left two testaments. In the first he recognized and confessed the unity of God, that His Exalted Being had neither peer nor equal, and that His Essence was exalted above all praise, all glorification and description. He also testified to the Revelation of the Prophets and the holy ones, and recognized what had been written down in the Books of God, the Lord of all men. On another page, in which he had set down a prayer, he wrote these words in conclusion: “This servant and the loved ones of God are perplexed. On the one hand the Pen of the Most High hath forbidden all men to engage in sedition, contention or conflict, and on the other that same 110 Pen hath sent down these most sublime words: ‘Should anyone, in the presence of the Manifestation, discover an evil intention on the part of any soul, he must not oppose him, but must leave him to God.’ Considering that on the one hand this binding command is clear and firmly established, and that on the other calumnies, beyond human strength to bear or endure, have been uttered, this servant hath chosen to commit this most grievous sin. I turn suppliantly unto the ocean of God’s bounty and the heaven of Divine mercy, and hope that He will blot out with the pen of His grace and bounteousness the misdeeds of this servant. Though my transgressions be manifold, and unnumbered my evildoings, yet do I cleave tenaciously to the cord of His bounty, and cling unto the hem of His generosity. God is witness, and they that are nigh unto His Threshold know full well, that this servant could not bear to hear the tales related by the perfidious. I, therefore, have committed this act. If He chastise me, He verily is to be praised for what He doeth; and if He forgive me, His behest shall be obeyed.”
Ponder, now, O Shaykh, the influence of the word of God, that haply thou mayest turn from the left hand of idle fancy unto the right hand of certitude. This Wronged One hath never acted hypocritically towards any one, in the Cause of God, and hath loudly proclaimed the Word of God before the face of His creatures. Let him who wisheth turn thereunto, 111 and let him who wisheth turn aside. If these things, however, that are so clear, so manifest and indubitable, be denied, what else can be deemed acceptable and worthy of credence in the estimation of men of insight? We beseech God—blessed and glorified be He—to forgive the aforementioned person (Ḥájí Shaykh Muḥammad-‘Alí), and change his evil deeds into good ones. He, verily, is the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the All-Bounteous.
Such things have appeared in this Revelation that there is no recourse for either the exponents of science and knowledge or the manifestations of justice and equity other than to recognize them. It is incumbent upon thee, in this day, to arise with celestial power and dissipate, with the aid of knowledge, the doubts of the peoples of the world, so that all men may be sanctified, and direct their steps towards the Most Great Ocean and cleave fast unto that which God hath purposed.
Every one who hath turned aside from Me hath clung to his own idle words, and therewith voiced his objections to Him Who is the Truth. Gracious God! Such references as have been made to Divinity and Godhead by the holy ones and chosen ones of God have been made a cause for denial and repudiation. The Imám Ṣádiq hath said: “Servitude is a substance, the essence of which is Divinity.” The Commander of the Faithful (Imám ‘Alí) answered an Arab, who had questioned him concerning the 112 soul, as follows: “The third is the soul which is divine and celestial. It is a divine energy, a substance, simple, and self-subsistent.” And further he—peace be upon him—said: “Therefore it is the Most Sublime Essence of God, the Tree of Blessedness, the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing, the Garden of Repose.” The Imám Ṣádiq hath said: “When our Qá’im will arise, the earth will shine with the light of her Lord.” Likewise, a lengthy tradition is attributed to Ábí-‘Abdi’lláh—peace be upon him—in which these sublime words are found: “Thereupon will He Who is the All-Compelling—exalted and glorified be He—descend from the clouds with the angels.” And in the mighty Qur’án: “What can such expect but that God should come down to them overshadowed with clouds?” And in the tradition of Mufaddál it is said: “The Qá’im will lean His back against the Sanctuary, and will stretch forth His hand, and lo, it shall be snow-white but unhurt. And He shall say: ‘This is the hand of God, the right hand of God, that cometh from God, at the command of God!’” In whichever manner these traditions are interpreted, in that same manner let them also interpret that which the Most Sublime Pen hath set down. The Commander of the Faithful (Imám ‘Alí) hath said: “I am He Who can neither be named, nor described.” And likewise He hath said: “Outwardly I am an Imám; inwardly I am the Unseen, the Unknowable.” Abú-Ja’far-i-Túsí hath said: “I said to 113 Ábí ‘Abdi’lláh: ‘You are the Way mentioned in the Book of God, and you are the Impost, and you are the Pilgrimage.’ He replied: ‘O man! We are the Way mentioned in the Book of God,—exalted and glorified be He—and We are the Impost, and We are the Fast, and We are the Pilgrimage, and We are the Sacred Month, and We are the Sacred City, and We are the Kaaba of God, and We are the Qiblih of God, and We are the Face of God.’” Jabír hath said that Abú-Ja’far—peace be upon him—spoke to him as follows: “O Jabír! Give heed unto the Bayán (Exposition) and the Má’ání (Significances).” He—peace be upon him—added: “As to the Bayán, it consisteth in thy recognition of God—glorified be He—as the One Who hath no equal, and in thy adoration of Him, and in thy refusal to join partners with Him. As to the Má’ání, We are its meaning, and its side, and its hand, and its tongue, and its cause, and its command, and its knowledge, and its right. If We wish for something, it is God Who wisheth it, and He desireth that which We desire.” Moreover, the Commander of the Faithful (Imám ‘Alí)—peace be upon him—hath said: “How can I worship a Lord Whom I have not seen?” And, in another connection, he saith: “Nothing have I perceived except that I perceived God before it, God after it, or God with it.”
O Shaykh! Ponder upon the things which have been mentioned, perchance thou mayest quaff the Sealed Wine through the power of the name of Him 114 Who is the Self-Subsisting, and obtain that which no one is capable of comprehending. Gird up the loins of endeavor, and direct thyself towards the Most Sublime Kingdom, that haply thou mayest perceive, as they descend upon Me, the breaths of Revelation and inspiration, and attain thereunto. Verily, I say: The Cause of God hath never had, nor hath it now, any peer or equal. Rend asunder the veils of idle fancies. He, in truth, will reinforce thee, and assist thee, as a token of His grace. He, verily, is the Strong, the All-Subduing, the Almighty. While there is yet time, and the blessed Lote-Tree is still calling aloud amongst men, suffer not thyself to be deprived. Place thy trust in God, and commit thine affairs unto Him, and enter then the Most Great Prison, that thou mayest hear what no ear hath ever heard, and gaze on that which no eye hath ever seen. After such an exposition, can there remain any room for doubt? Nay, by God, Who standeth over His Cause! In truth I say: On this day the blessed words “But He is the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets” have found their consummation in the verse “The day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds.” Render thou thanksgiving unto God, for so great a bounty.
O Shaykh! The breezes of Revelation can never be confounded with other breezes. Now the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing standeth laden with countless fruits before thy face; besmirch not 115 thyself with idle fancies, as have done the people aforetime. These utterances themselves proclaim the true nature of the Faith of God. He it is Who witnesseth unto all things. To demonstrate the truth of His Revelation He hath not been, nor is He, dependent upon any one. Well nigh a hundred volumes of luminous verses and perspicuous words have already been sent down from the heaven of the will of Him Who is the Revealer of signs, and are available unto all. It is for thee to direct thyself towards the Ultimate Goal, and the Supreme End, and the Most Sublime Pinnacle, that thou mayest hear and behold what hath been revealed by God, the Lord of the worlds.
Ponder a while upon the verses concerning the Divine Presence, which have been sent down in the Qur’án by Him Who is the Lord of the kingdom of names, perchance thou mayest discover the Straight Path, and be made an instrument for the guidance of His creatures. Such a one as thou must needs in this day arise to serve this Cause. The abasement of this Wronged One as well as thy glory shall both pass away. Strive thou, that haply thou mayest achieve a deed the fragrance of which shall never fade from the earth. Concerning the Divine Presence there hath been sent down what no denier hath been or is now able to refute or repudiate. He—blessed and exalted be He—saith: “It is God Who hath reared the heavens without pillars thou canst behold; 116 then mounted His throne, and imposed laws on the sun and moon: each traveleth to its appointed goal. He ordereth all things. He maketh His signs clear, that ye may have firm faith in the Presence of your Lord.” He also saith: “To him who hopeth to attain the Presence of God, the set time of God will surely come. And He is the Hearer, the Knower.” And further He—exalted be He—saith: “As for those who believe not in the signs of God, or that they shall ever attain His Presence, these of My mercy shall despair, and these doth a grievous chastisement await.” And likewise He saith: “And they say, ‘What! when we shall have lain hidden in the earth, shall we become a new creation?’ Yea, they deny that they shall attain the Presence of their Lord.” And likewise He saith: “They truly doubt the Presence of their Lord. He, verily, overshadoweth all things.” And likewise He saith: “Verily, they who hope not to attain Our Presence, and find their satisfaction in this world’s life, and rest on it, and who of Our signs are heedless—these! their abode the fire, in recompense of their deeds!” And likewise He saith: “But when Our clear signs are recited to them, they who look not forward to attain Our Presence, say, ‘Bring a different Qur’án from this, or make some change in it.’ Say: It is not for Me to change it as Mine own soul prompteth. I follow only what is revealed to Me: verily, I fear, if I rebel against My Lord, the punishment of a great day.” And likewise He saith: 117 “Then gave We the Book to Moses—complete for Him who should do right, and a decision for all matters, and a guidance, and a mercy, that they might believe in the Presence of their Lord.” And likewise he saith: “They are those who believe not in the signs of the Lord, or that they shall ever attain His Presence. Vain, therefore, are their works; and no weight will We allow them on the Day of Resurrection. This shall be their reward—Hell. Because they were unbelievers, and treated My signs and My Apostles with scorn.” And likewise He saith: “Hath the history of Moses reached thee? When He saw a fire, and said to His family, ‘Tarry ye here, for I perceive a fire; haply I may bring you a brand from it, or find at the fire a guide.’ And when He came to it, He was called to, ‘O Moses! Verily, I am Thy Lord; therefore pull off Thy shoes, for Thou art in the holy vale of Towa. And I have chosen Thee; hearken then to what shall be revealed. Verily, I am God, there is no God but Me. Therefore, worship Me.’” And likewise He saith: “Have they not considered within themselves that God hath not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them but for a serious end, and for a fixed term? But truly most men believe not that they shall attain the Presence of their Lord.” And likewise He saith: “What! Have they no thought that they shall be raised again for the Great Day, the Day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds?” And likewise 118 He saith: “We heretofore gave the Book to Moses. Have thou no doubt as to His attaining Our Presence.” And He saith: “Aye! But when the earth shall be crushed with crushing, crushing, and thy Lord shall come and the angels rank on rank.” And likewise He saith: “Fain would they put out the light of God with their mouths! But though the infidels hate it, God will perfect His light.” And likewise He saith: “And when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was journeying with His family, He perceived a fire on the mountain side. He said to His family: ‘Wait ye, for I perceive a fire, haply I may bring you tidings from it, or a brand from the fire to warm you.’ And when He came up to it, a Voice cried to Him out of the Bush from the right side of the Vale in the sacred Spot: ‘O Moses, I truly am God, the Lord of the worlds!’”
In all the Divine Books the promise of the Divine Presence hath been explicitly recorded. By this Presence is meant the Presence of Him Who is the Dayspring of the signs, and the Dawning-Place of the clear tokens, and the Manifestation of the Excellent Names, and the Source of the attributes, of the true God, exalted be His glory. God in His Essence and in His own Self hath ever been unseen, inaccessible, and unknowable. By Presence, therefore, is meant the Presence of the One Who is His Vicegerent amongst men. He, moreover, hath never had, nor hath He, any peer or likeness. For were He to have 119 any peer or likeness, how could it then be demonstrated that His being is exalted above, and His essence sanctified from, all comparison and likeness? Briefly, there hath been revealed in the Kitáb-i-Íqán (Book of Certitude) concerning the Presence and Revelation of God that which will suffice the fair-minded. We beseech Him—exalted be He—to aid every one to become the essence of truthfulness, and to draw nigh unto Him. He, verily, is the Lord of strength and power. No God is there but Him, the All-Hearing, the Lord of Utterance, the Almighty, the All-Praised.
O thou who art reputed for thy learning! Bid men to do that which is praiseworthy, and be not of such as tarry. Observe thou with a keen eye. The Sun of Truth shineth resplendently, at the bidding of the Lord of the kingdom of utterance, and the King of the heaven of knowledge, above the horizon of the prison-city of ‘Akká. Repudiation hath not veiled it, and ten thousand hosts arrayed against it were powerless to withhold it from shining. Thou canst excuse thyself no longer. Either thou must recognize it, or—God forbid—arise and deny all the Prophets!
Reflect, O Shaykh, upon the Shí’ih sect. How many the edifices which they reared with the hands of idle fancies and vain imaginings, and how numerous the cities which they built! At length those vain imaginings were converted into bullets and aimed 120 at Him Who is the Prince of the world. Not one single soul among the leaders of that sect acknowledged Him in the Day of His Revelation! Whenever His blessed name was mentioned, all would say: “May God hasten the joy His coming will bring!” On the day of the Revelation of that Sun of Truth, however, all, as hath been observed, have exclaimed, saying: “May God hasten His chastisement!” He Who was the Essence of being and Lord of the seen and unseen they suspended, and committed what made the Tablet to weep, and the Pen to groan, and the cries of the sincere to break forth, and the tears of the favored ones to flow.
Meditate, O Shaykh, and be fair in what thou sayest. The followers of Shaykh-i-Ahsá’í (Shaykh Aḥmad) have, by the aid of God, apprehended that which was veiled from the comprehension of others, and of which they remained deprived. Briefly, in every age and century differences have arisen in the days of the manifestation of the Daysprings of Revelation, and the Dawning-Places of inspiration, and the Repositories of Divine knowledge, differences which have been caused and provoked by lying and impious souls. To expatiate on this is not permissible. Thou art thyself better acquainted and more familiar with the idle fancies of the superstitious and the vain imaginings of the doubters.
In this day, this Wronged One requesteth thee and the other divines who have drunk of the cup of the