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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 2-4

The Changing World

That the world, during the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth centuries, 1 has been passing through the death 3 pangs of an old era and the birth pangs of a new, is evident to all. The old principles of materialism and self-interest, the old sectarian and patriotic prejudices and animosities, are perishing, discredited, amidst the ruins they have wrought, and in all lands we see signs of a new spirit of faith, of brotherhood, of internationalism, that is bursting the old bonds and overrunning the old boundaries. Revolutionary changes of unprecedented magnitude have been occurring in every department of human life. The old era is not yet dead. It is engaged in a life and death struggle with the new. Evils there are in plenty, gigantic and formidable, but they are being exposed, investigated, challenged and attacked with new vigor and hope. Clouds there are in plenty, vast and threatening, but the light is breaking through, and is illumining the path of progress and revealing the obstacles and pitfalls that obstruct the onward way.
In the eighteenth century it was different. Then the spiritual and moral gloom that enshrouded the world was relieved by hardly a ray of light. It was like the darkest hour before the dawn, when the few lamps and candles that remain alight do little more than make the darkness visible. Carlyle in his Frederick the Great writes of the eighteenth century thus:—
A century which has no history and can have little or none. A century so opulent in accumulated falsities … as never century before was! Which had no longer the consciousness of being false, so false had it grown; and was so steeped in falsity, and impregnated with it to the very bone, that—in fact the measure of the thing was full, and a French Revolution had to end it. … A very fit termination, as I thankfully feel, for such a century. … For there was need once more of a Divine Revelation to the torpid, frivolous children of men, if they were not to sink altogether into the ape condition.—Frederick the Great, Book I, Chap. I.
Compared with the eighteenth century the present time is as the dawn after darkness, or as the spring after winter. The world is stirring with new life, thrilling with new ideals and hopes. Things that but a few years ago seemed impossible 4 dreams are now accomplished facts. Others that seemed centuries ahead of us have already become matters of “practical politics.” We fly in the air and make voyages under the sea. We send messages around the world with the speed of lightning. Within a few decades we have seen miracles too numerous to mention.
1. Written shortly after the First World War.   [ Back To Reference]