(at the Free Religious Association, circa 1911)
The divine religions have descended for love and amity among mankind. They have been founded for unity and the purpose of affinity among mankind. They have descended for the purpose of cementing together the human family. But alas! the religions of the world have made use of religion as a pretext for discord, considering each prophet as against the others. For example, the Jews consider Moses to be opposed to Jesus Christ. The Christians consider Zoroaster to be opposed or inimical to His Holiness the Christ. The Buddhist considers His Holiness Zoroaster as opposed to Buddha. The Mohammedans consider all of them as inimical to their religion; whereas, these great ones were founding the same principle. Their aim was one, and all of them were united and agreed. The essentials of their teachings are one and the same. The reality of their law is one. All of them have served the one God and they have all summoned people to the same Maker. For example, His Holiness Zoroaster was a prophet, precisely according to the Messianic example. There was no difference whatsoever between the spirit of the teachings which Zoroaster gave and those which His Holiness the Christ gave. Likewise the teachings of Buddha are not at all opposed to the teachings of the Christ, or to the teachings of any of the prophets. These great and blessed souls had for their aim the same principle. Their purpose was one, their law was one, their teaching was one.
But alas! after their days certain dogmatic imitations crept in, and these imitations caused division. For the imitations which crept in were not reality but were purely superstitious and utterly inimical to the law laid down by the founders. They were distinct from the teachings given by the prophets because they were inimical; therefore they caused enmity and strife and division. In place of the unity which was intended to bind together the religionists, these imitations caused a regrettable separation. Instead of loving fellowship which was to animate them, the spirit of strife and discord animated them. Instead of the spirit of co-operation and solidarity taking possession of them, they began to cause greater envy and jealousy to exist among them. Therefore, the world of humanity from its inception up to the present day has not found peace and rest. There has ever been warfare and strife among religions; discord and bloodshed have been extant among them.
If we refer to history we shall find such deplorable events as to cause us to lament and to mourn. For the law of God which was meant to be a basis for loving fellowship and unity was used for purposes contrary to the original intention. The law of God may be likened to a remedy. If a remedy be used in a proper manner it is curative. But alas! these remedies or curative agents were cast into the hands of unskilled physicians, who used them without skill and for purposes wholly selfish. In place of these remedies proving to be of healing properties, they proved the opposite. Instead of their conferring life they caused death. Instead of their causing illumination they caused darkness — simply because these remedies were placed in the hands of unskilled physicians. An unskilled physician cannot confer life; his prescriptions are ever futile; nay, they are harmful.
His Holiness Baha’u’llah appeared about sixty years ago in Persia, at a time when among the peoples of Persia there was strife and enmity unspeakable, to the extent that each considered the other religionists as outcasts. They even went so far as using unseemly language, each thirsting for the blood of the other. His Holiness Baha’u’llah proclaimed the oneness of the world of humanity. Secondly, he proclaimed that the religion of God; must be the cause of unity and amity — the cause of life must it be. If religion be the cause of enmity, he declared, its absence is better than its presence, for the purpose of religion is love of mankind, and if religion yields enmity surely its non-existence is preferable.
Thirdly, Baha’u’llah proclaimed that religion must correspond with science, for religion is reality and science is reality, and reality corresponds. It is not multiple, there is no difference in any reality. If a religious question be opposed to reason and science, it is pure imagination and baseless, for the opposite of knowledge or science is ignorance. This is as evident as the sun at mid-day.
The fourth principle he inculcated was that all humanity is in the estimation of God equal; all are the servants of God; all are beneath the mercy of God. God has created all, God provideth for all, God nurtures all, God protects all, God is kind to all; — why should we be unkind? God gives provision; why should we suspend that provision? God loves all his servants; why should we be inimical? God is at peace with everybody; why should we be warring? God has created us for love and amity and not for strife and enmity. Why should we oppose such an attribute of divine mercy? Why shall we becloud such radiance and effulgence with darkness? Why shall we oppose such love divine with hatred and jealousy?
For six thousand years humanity has been tormented with these baser qualities; strife and enmity have been extant among mankind, each religion considering the other as its enemy, each sect considering the others as inimical to it and each denomination considering all other denominations as false, each religion pronouncing anathema on all the others. Is it not sufficient? What result has come from that attitude, what fruit has it yielded to humanity?
Now, this century is a century of light. It is a century wherein such superstitions must be cast away. This century is one in which enmity and strife must cease. This is a century wherein all the peoples, all the religionists, must associate with each other with perfect spirit of love and fellowship. For all are the servants of one God. They have come to be through the same mercy, they are illumined by the same light, they are revivified by the same light. At most, one may be sick — he must be treated, he must be shown kindliness. One may be ignorant — he must be taught. One may be childlike — he must be assisted in order that he may reach maturity, until he may reach the age of majority. No one shall be considered as opposed, nobody shall be shown enmity. All are brothers, all are mothers, all are daughters, all are sisters, and that which God has meant to be united, those whom God has bound together, why shall we disunite and disband? That which God's hand of mercy has built, why shall we destroy?
Oppose not the will of God. Think of no policy inimical to the divine policy. Think of how liberal God's policy is. Act in accordance therewith. Surely the policy of God is above human policy. For no matter how far human policy shall advance or how intelligent the human mind may be, the policy of God forever remains the perfect, the complete. We must emulate the divine policy. Just as God deals with his creation let us also deal with one another. Let us follow His example. There is no better example than God. We observe the traces of God, we observe the phenomena of his wisdom. Is it meet for us to leave aside the wisdom of God and to create certain imaginary distinctions and to hold tenaciously thereto and to cause enmity among humanity? God forbid. Never have the prophets of God been willing that such shall be the status.
The prophets of God have all promulgated the same foundation; they have given fundamentally the same teachings, and the teachings of the prophets of God are pure spirit, are pure religion, are pure love, are pure unity. Therefore we must emulate the prophets of God.