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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 234-237

Chapter 14: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.—Duet. xviii, 21–22.

Creative Power of God’s Word

God, and God alone, has the power to do whatever He wills, and the greatest proof of a Manifestation of God is the creative power of His word—its effectiveness to change and transform all human affairs and to triumph over all human opposition. Through the word of the Prophets God announces His will, and the immediate or subsequent fulfillment of that word is the clearest proof of the Prophet’s claim and of the genuineness of His inspiration.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from the heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.—Isa. lv, 10–11.
When the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus with the question: “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” the answer of Jesus was simply to point to the effects wrought by His words:—235
Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.—Matt. xi, 4–6.
Let us now see what evidence there is to show whether the words of Bahá’u’lláh have this creative power which is distinctive of the word of God.
Bahá’u’lláh commanded the rulers to establish universal peace, and their prolongation of the policy of war since 1869–1870 has overthrown many ancient dynasties, while each successive war has produced less and less fruits of victory, until the European War of 1914–1918 revealed the historically startling fact that was has become disastrous to victor and vanquished alike. 1
Bahá’u’lláh bade the rulers likewise to act as trustees of those under their control, making political authority a means to true general welfare. The progress toward social legislation has been unprecedented.
He commanded limitation of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and ever since, legislation for the establishment of minimum subsistence levels and for graduated taxation of wealth by income and inheritance taxes has been a constant concern. He commanded the abolition of both chattel and economic slavery, and ever since, the progress toward emancipation has been a ferment in all parts of the world.
Bahá’u’lláh declared the equality of men and women, expressed through equal responsibilities and equal rights and privileges, and since that declaration, the bonds by which women have been bound for ages have been breaking, and woman has rapidly been securing her rightful place as the equal and partner of man.
He declared the fundamental oneness of religions, and the succeeding interval has witnessed the most determined efforts of sincere souls in all parts of the world to achieve a new degree 236 of tolerance, of mutual understanding and of cooperation for universal ends. The sectarian attitude has everywhere been undermined, and its historical position has become more and more untenable. The basis of exclusiveness in religion has been destroyed by the same forces making nationalism of the self-contained type incapable of survival.
He commanded universal education, and made the independent investigation of truth a proof of spiritual vitality. Modern civilization has been stirred to its depths by this new leaven. Compulsory education for children, and the extension of educational facilities for adults, have become a primary policy of government. Nations which deliberately seek to restrict that very policy have aroused revolution within and suspicion and fear outside their boundaries.
Bahá’u’lláh commanded the adoption of a universal auxiliary language, and Dr. Zamenhof and others obeyed His call by devoting their lives and genius to this great task and opportunity.
Above all, Bahá’u’lláh imbued humanity with a new spirit, arousing new longings in minds and hearts and new ideals for society. Nothing in all history is so dramatic and impressive as the course of events since the dawn of the Bahá’í era in 1844. Year by year, the power of a dead past prolonged through outworn ideas, habits, attitudes and institutions has weakened, until at present every intelligent man and woman on earth realizes that humanity is passing through its most terrible crisis. On the one hand we see the new creation arising as the light of Bahá’u’lláh’s teaching has revealed the true path of evolution. On the other hand we see naught but disaster and frustration in all realms where that light is resisted or ignored.
Yet, to the faithful Bahá’í, these and countless other evidences, impressive as they are, fail to give the real measure of the spiritual majesty of Bahá’u’lláh. His life on earth, and the irresistible force of His inspired words, stand as the only true criterion of the will of God.
A study of the more detailed prophecies of Bahá’u’lláh and 237 their fulfillment will give powerful corroborative evidence. Of these prophecies we shall now proceed to give a few examples, about the authenticity of which there can be no dispute. They were widely published and known before their fulfillment came about. The letter which He sent to the crowned heads of the world, in which many of these prophecies occur, were compiled in a book which was first published in Bombay in the late nineteenth century. Several editions have since been published. We shall also give some examples of noteworthy prophecies by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
1. This has been further evidenced by the Second World War.   [ Back To Reference]