Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 1-2

Chapter 1: The Glad Tidings

The Promised One of all the peoples of the world hath appeared. All peoples and communities have been expecting a Revelation, and He, Bahá’u’lláh, is the foremost teacher and educator of all mankind.—‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ.

The Greatest Event in History

If we study the story of the “ascent of man” as recorded in the pages of history, it becomes evident that the leading factor in human progress is the advent, from time to time, of men who pass beyond the accepted ideas of their day and become the discoverers and revealers of truths hitherto unknown among mankind. The inventor, the pioneer, the genius, the Prophet—these are the men on whom the transformation of world primarily depends. As Carlyle says:—
The plain truth, very plain, we think is, that … one man that has a higher Wisdom, a hitherto unknown spiritual Truth in him, is stronger, not than ten men that have it not, or than ten thousand, but than all men that have it not; and stands among them with a quite ethereal, angelic power, as with a sword out of Heaven’s own armory, sky-tempered, which no buckler, and no tower of brass, will finally withstand.
—Signs of the Times
In the history of science, of art, of music, we see abundant illustrations of this truth, but in no domain is the supreme importance of the great man and his message more clearly evident than in that of religion. All down the ages, whenever the spiritual life of men has become degenerate and their morals corrupt, that most wonderful and mysterious of men, the Prophet, makes His appearance. Alone against the world, without a single human being capable of teaching, of guiding, of fully understanding Him, or of sharing His responsibility, He 2 arises, like a seer among blind men, to proclaim His gospel of righteousness and truth.
Amongst the Prophets some stand out with special preeminence. Every few centuries a great Divine Revealer—a Krishna, a Zoroaster, a Moses, a Jesus, a Muḥammad—appears in the East, like a spiritual Sun, to illumine the darkened minds of men and awaken their dormant souls. Whatever our views as to the relative greatness of these religion-founders we must admit that They have been the most potent factors in the education of mankind. With one accord these Prophets declare that the words They utter are not from Themselves, but are a Revelation through Them, a Divine message of which They are the bearers. Their recorded utterances abound, too, in hints and promises of a great world teacher Who will appear “in the fullness of time” to carry on Their work and bring it to fruition, One Who will establish a reign of peace and justice upon earth, and bring into one family all races, religions, nations, and tribes, that “there may be one fold and one shepherd” and that all may know and love God “from the least even unto the greatest.”
Surely the advent of this “Educator of Mankind,” in the latter days, when He appears, must be the greatest event in human history. And the Bahá’í Movement is proclaiming to the world the glad tidings that this Educator has in fact appeared, that His Revelation has been delivered and recorded and may be studied by every earnest seeker, that the “Day of the Lord” has already dawned and the “Sun or Righteousness” arisen. As yet only a few on the mountaintops have caught sight of the Glorious Orb, but already its rays are illumining heaven and earth, and erelong it will rise above the mountains and shine with full strength on the plains and valleys too, giving life and guidance to all.