Sermon at St. John’s Church, Westminister

September 17, 1911: after the evening service at St. John’s Church, Westminster, September 17, 1911.

A provisional translation from Khetabat-e Hazrat-e `Abdu’l-Baha dar safr-e-Europa (Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his European travels), page 26. Some notes are included in the first comment below this post.

He is God!

The Manifestations of God inform us of the bounties of the unseen world; they are reflections of the sun of reality. The divine reality is sanctified above human understanding. Whatever enters our understanding is a form in the world of imagination: it has a mental rather than a real existence. It is circumscribed. But a human person has a true reality, which encompasses other realities.

The concept of divinity, which is one of our intellectual constructs, is nothing more than an insubstantial concept: it is not the divine reality. The divine reality is encompassing, it is not encompassed; it has a true existence, not an intellectual one. One can understand this question through an analogy. Although the mineral, the vegetable, the animal and the human are all realities of this world, the mineral has no knowledge of the animal kingdom: it cannot picture it, or comprehend it. Similarly, however much a plant may advance, reaching the highest degree of perfection, it knows nothing of the animal world and cannot comprehend it. It knows nothing, having no vision or hearing, and being incapable of understanding and reflection. Again, the animal that has progressed within its own plane, whose senses and susceptibilities have reached their fullest power, still knows nothing about the rational faculty in humans, and cannot imagine it. It is a captive of the senses. It cannot imagine that the sun stands in its place and the earth moves, or that the earth is a sphere. It cannot conceive of the power of electricity, and the ethereal substance does not enter its mind. Although the mineral, vegetable, animal and human are all realities of this world, the difference between their stations prevents the lower from comprehending the higher. In view of this, how could a contingent being comprehend the reality of the Absolute? How could the dust encompass the Lord of Lords? It is clear that this is completely impossible!

The Essence of Divinity, the Sun of Truth, shines forth upon all horizons and is spreading its rays upon all things. Each thing has some portion of that bounty, but the human reality, which combines the perfections of the mineral, the vegetable and animal, and as an additional token of grace, possesses the human perfections, is the noblest of created beings. It encompasses all contingent beings. It uncovers the realities, enigmas and inherent properties of all created things, which had been hidden mysteries and well-guarded secrets. It brings them from the plane of the invisible world into the visible world. Consider the sciences, inventions and discoveries that exist today: each of them was at one time hidden, but the human reality has uncovered them and brought them from the plane of the invisible world into the visible world. For example, magnetic attraction and other hidden forces were once unknown things, concealed in the plane of the invisible, but the human reality uncovered those hidden mysteries and revealed them in the visible world. Thus it is established beyond any doubt that the human reality encompasses all created things and is the noblest created thing.

This is especially true of the perfect exemplar of the human reality. That perfect individual is like a mirror that reflects the sun of reality with the greatest purity, clarity and immediacy. The perfections and light of God are manifest and apparent, in their full splendour, in this stainless mirror. If we say, “the sun is in this mirror,” we do not mean that the sun has come down from its lofty sanctity and alighted in the mirror! It is impossible. The essential nature of any thing cannot be transmuted into something else. The eternal cannot become transient, and the transient is not eternal. Rather, the Immortal Being casts its splendour in this mirror and its heat and light radiate and are revealed and manifest to the greatest degree. “God is Truth: nothing exists beside the Truth except for manifest error.” (From letter 65 of the Nahj al-Balagha, cf Quran 10:32)

O God! Thou giver, and forgiver of sins. This assembly is honoured by Your remembrance and is turning to Your Kingdom. Therefore, our hearts are full of joy and glad tidings. O Thou kind Lord! Cheer us, confirm us in your Kingdom, forgive our sins, and be a refuge for us. Make us aware and call us to Thy Court in the Kingdom. Thou art the Giver, the Generous, the Benevolent. Amen.

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