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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 72-73

Devotion to God

In order to attain to the Bahá’í life in all its fullness, conscious and direct relations with Bahá’u’lláh are as necessary as is sunshine for the unfolding of the lily or the rose. The Bahá’í worships not the human personality of Bahá’u’lláh, but the Glory of God manifest through that personality. He reverences Christ and Muḥammad and all God’s former Messengers to mankind, but he recognizes Bahá’u’lláh as the bearer of God’s Message for the new age in which we live, as the Great World teacher Who has come to carry on and consummate the work of His predecessors.
Intellectual assent to a creed does not make a man a Bahá’í, nor does outward rectitude of conduct. Bahá’u’lláh requires of His followers wholehearted and complete devotion. God alone has the right to make such a demand, but Bahá’u’lláh speaks as the Manifestation of God, and the Revealer of His Will. Previous Manifestations have been equally clear on this point. Christ said: “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” In different words, all the Divine Manifestations have made this same demand from Their followers, and the history of religion shows clearly that as long as the demand has been frankly recognized and accepted, religion has 73 flourished, despite all earthly opposition, despite affliction, persecution and martyrdom of the believers. On the other hand, whenever compromise has crept in, and “respectability” has taken the place of complete consecration, then religion has decayed. It has become fashionable, but it has lost its power to save and transform, its power to work miracles. True religion has never yet been fashionable. God grant that one day it may become so; but it is still true, as in the days of Christ, that “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The gateway of spiritual birth, like the gateway of natural birth, admits men only one by one, and without encumbrances. If, in the future, more people succeed in entering that way than in the past, it will not be because of any widening of the gate, but because of a greater disposition on the part of men to make the “great surrender” which God demands; because long and bitter experience has at last brought them to see the folly of choosing their own way instead of God’s way.