In Relation to Christianity and Oiher Religion
SCOPE, HISTORY AND: PSECEPTS
By Louis G. Gregory.
About two years ago the writer was asked by The Bee for an article on the Bahá’í Revelation, the so-called New Religion. We shrank from the task, for the reason that no newspaper articles can do more than call attention to so vast a subject. But now we find, in view of the recent visit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to England, that the British press is teeming with the subject, and that many of the articles written have found an echo in America. So the time seems ripe to use every agency to acquaint, as far as possible, the people of the world with the movement, and this we hope to do in part through The Bee and its exchanges. May the Divine Light inspire hope and cause inquiry.
The Bahá’í movement aims at nothing less than universal peace and the solidarity of the human family through the unification of all nations, races, and religions. Tint there is one God; that the Infinite Essence of God is forever veiled from His creatures; that the name of God should be one among all men; that in reality and essence all men are brothers; that the solution of all human problems is to be found in the spiritualization of the world; and that “the knowledge of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the deep.” This partly expresses the spirit of the teachings. Hence it can be seen at once that the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh is not a new Religion. It is rather a renewal of the Spirit of Religion. It comes to antagonize no existing church, sect, or religion, but rather to unite all by harmonizing their differences through the power of love. The world knows seven great systems of religion. They are each and all of Divine origin. Their founders were all holy men who came as apostles and messengers of God, giving in each case to the children of men light in accordance with their capacity and perception. If their laws and ordinances differed, the needs of the people also varied at different times. But they were all speakers of the Word of God, that Divine Logos winch is ever the same, Spirit and Life, to the sons of men! Thus a careful perusal of the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Zoroaster, Krisna, Enoch, and Mohammed, shows that each taught the immortality of the soul, the reward of good and punishment of evil, heart knowledge of the Spirit of God, the oneness of God, the Day of Judgment, and all other essentials of true religion.
The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh (the glory of God) is the latest of all, and proves the reality of Jesus and all the holy ones who have gone before. It does not come to destroy any of them, but to renew their Divine Spirit and fulfill them. To know the reality of one of God’s messengers is to know the reality of all of them. The light of God is one, but the mirrors reflecting the light have been many. To quote from the Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, “This is that which descended from the source of majesty, through the tongue of power and strength upon the prophets of the past. We have taken its essences and with the garment of brevity clothed them as a favor to the beloved, that they may fulfill the covenant of God.”
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The new revelation may be approached from many angles. Its wonderful philosophy squares with modern science. It facinates through its explanations of the mysteries of the Bible and other Holy Books. Its direct fulfillment of ancient prophecies is thrilling. Its social and economic laws are pleasing alike to the radical and conservative among reformers. It reminds every religionist of his own system. And its deep and vital spiritual power brightens the mind and gladdens the heart. Already it has performed a great modern-day miracle. This is nothing less than the union of Jews, Christians, Mohammedans, etc., to the extent of several millions. It is not a cult, in that people of all classes, wise and ignorant, rich and poor, are numbered among its followers. In fact, if it did not appeal universally to the heart of humanity it would not be what its followers claim for it, a universal religion.
Historically the movement centers about a trinity of revelators who have appeared in modern times. The First Point, the Báb, Elijah of the day appeared in Persia in 1844 and conducted a great religious and moral revolution. He attracted many followers, about twenty thousand of whom were put to death. After but six years of teaching the Báb (the Door or Gate) was himself put to death. But before His passing He warned His followers to prepare their hearts for the coming of the greatest manifestation of God. The Father, Bahá’u’lláh, (the splendor of God) arose soon after the passing of the Báb. He was a prisoner of the Persian and Turkish Governments forty years, spending most of this time at Akka, the penal colony, near Mt. Carmal, in the Holy Land. “Out of prison He cometh to reign” and “Carmal shall see the glory of God!” He revealed a vast system of laws for the government of the human race and the instrumentalities of universal unity. Among these are a universal calendar, a universal tongue, universal peace, and a cosmic race. Before his passing in 1892, he directed his followers, who now numbered about a hundred thousand, to turn their faces toward his son, Abbas Effendi, the greatest branch. This son, under the title of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (the servant of God) at the age of 67, is now the leader of the movement. The writer has seen him. There are man others who testify to his simplicity, meekness, majesty, knowledge and love.
Bahá’ís have been the victims of much persecution. But the cause thrives best under adverse conditions. With the usual faith and courage shown in various parts of the world, the movement has grappled with the race problem in America. A few of its precepts are: “Close your eyes to racial differences and welcome all with the light of oneness.”
“The principles of religion is to lessen words and increase deeds.”
“The first counsel is, possess a good, a pure, an enlightened heart.”
“If you have a word or a fragrance which a brother has not, offer it with the tongue of love and kindness. If it is accepted, the end is attained. If not, with regard to him deal not harshly, but pray.”
THE SHEPARD IDEA
Spreading Among the Whites.
(From an Exchange.)
It was many years ago that a wave of sentiment in favor of higher education swept over the race. A fewer number of years ago industrial training was brought forcefully to our attentions. If we read correctly the signs of the times not many years hence the religious training in schools established for this especial purpose, will be acclaimed everywhere a new panacea for our racial troubles. In founding his religious training school at Durham, N.C., Dr. James E. Shepard seems to have originated a line of educational work that will take strong hold not alone on the Negro people of America, but on the whites as well.
It is a peculiar fact that a Negro leader has thought out and popularized each new possible solution of the race problem, and each of these movements has been along educational lines. Dr. J.C. Price stirred the country on the idea of higher education; Dr. B.T. Washington so impressed his industrialism that the whites appropriated the idea for their own improvement; Dr. Shepard’s idea is now being taken up by the whites and they are beginning to use it on a large scale for their own betterment, not leaving the Negro altogether out of the movement, however. It is, then, a noteworthy fact that Negroes have worked out almost independently the ideas for the development of their people, while the whites have furnished most of the “where-with-all” to put these plans into operation, themselves being influenced by the transaction.
Much attention is being attracted just now to the American Interchurch college being established in Nashville, Tenn., to train individuals for carrying on religious work. The main college, for whites, will be affiliated with Vanderbilt University and Peabody College, while the colored department will be affiliated with the colored colleges of the city. The Interchurch College has a capitalization of $1,000,000. There will be raised $200,00 for the colored department, making the total endowment $1,200,000.
A layman wonders if a movement of this kind means that the church is losing ground and must in this way be reinforced to be saved itself; or does it show that the church has failed in fulfilling one of its missions? It has boasted of fitting workers for the Master’s vineyard. Is this important feature of church work to be turned over to religious schools? — Southern Life Magazine.
Col. John R. Marshall, of Chicago, and the popular and efficient colonel t of the Eighth Illinois regiment spent t several days in this city, the guest of Dr. and Mrs. Geo. Cabiness. Col. Marshall is an old Alexander. Va., boy who took Horace Greeley advice “go west voting man,” and made good. Col. Marshall and Dr. Cabiness called at The Bee office Tuesday.
Everybody intends to attend the charity reception. It will be the greatest social event of the season.