"If this is of God, it will endure."
Section 1- A Kingdom Stands
"O Queen in London! Incline thine ear unto the voice of thy Lord . . . all that hath been mentioned in the Gospel hath been fulfilled."-Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pages 59-60
Baha'u'llah addressed these words to queen Victoria of Great Britain. In His Letter to the Queen, Baha'u'llah once again linked His Message with that of Christ. He said that the city of 'Akka had been "honored by the footsteps" of the Promised One.
In this day, Baha'u'llah said, the people of the world had the opportunity to "inhale the fragrance" of the Revelation of God, and to become "inebriated with the wine of His (the Messenger's) presence."
Baha'u'llah praised Queen Victoria for two far-reaching reforms undertaken by the British government. He wrote:
"We have been informed that thou hast forbidden the trading in slaves... This, verily, is what God hath enjoined in this wondrous Revelation. God hath, truly, destined a reward for thee, because of this. He, verily, will pay the doer of good, whether man or woman, his due recompense... " -Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, page 60
And in yet another part of His Letter to the queen Baha'u'llah said:
"thou hast entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the representatives of the people. Thou, indeed, hast done well, for thereby the foundations of the edifice of thine affairs will be strengthened, and the hearts of all that are beneath thy shadow, whether high or low, will be tranquilized." -Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, page 61
Baha'u'llah deplored the state of the world. He longed to see mankind at peace, developing the creative talents of every heart. Baha'u'llah attributed much of man's suffering to the insincerity and greed of political leaders:
He wrote: "We behold it [the world], in this day, at the mercy of rulers so drunk with pride that they cannot discern clearly their own best advantage, much less recognize a Revelation so bewildering and challenging as this. And whenever any one of them [leaders] hath striven to improve its condition, his motive hath been his own gain, whether confessedly so or not; and the unworthiness of this motive hath limited his power to heal or cure." -Gleanings, page 255
Baha'u'llah in His Letter to Queen Victoria prescribed the remedy which could heal the ills of the world.
"O Queen in London... That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician." -Gleanings, page 255
In what spirit did the Queen receive Baha'u'llah's Letter? According to one written account: "Queen Victoria, it is said, upon reading the Tablet (Letter) revealed for her, remarked: 'If this is of God, it will endure... ' "
Like Gamaliel, the leading rabbi who refused either to condemn Christ or to accept Him, the Queen preferred to leave history to take its course.
Of all the rulers to whom Baha'u'llah wrote, Victoria was the only one who responded in any manner, however limited. She is also the only one of those monarchs who did not undergo a series of afflictive dynasty-destroying disasters during her reign, and whose kingdom has survived.
Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, during the South African war. She had ruled her people for over sixty-three years, the longest reign known in British history. Victoria had, indeed, been blessed with a reign that was in sharp contrast with those of her fellow rulers.
There was, however, to be a far more direct link between the Queen and the Prisoner. An even greater "reward" was to come to one of Victoria's descendants.
The Queen's grand-daughter, Queen Marie of Rumania, subsequently became a devoted follower of the Prisoner of 'Akka. Several testimonies to Baha'u'llah's Faith have been left by the pen of this royal convert. Publicly the Queen proclaimed.
"If ever the name of Baha'u'llah... comes to your attention, do not put [His] writings from you... let their glorious, peace-bringing, love-creating lessons sink into your hearts as they have into mine... Seek them and be the happier."
She later wrote:
"It is Christ's message taken up anew, in the same words almost, but adapted to the thousand years and more difference that lies between the year one and today... "
Canadian Baha'i's were delighted that it was in a letter to a Canadian newspaper, the Toronto Star, that the Queen's public declaration was first made.
There is also a second link between Queen Marie, the first of royalty to embrace the Faith of Baha'u'llah, and the kings to whom Baha'u'llah directed, specific letters. Queen Marie of Rumania was the grand-daughter of both Queen Victoria and Alexander II of Russia. Victoria was the sole monarch to make even the slightest response to Baha'u'llah's Message. Although Alexander II was himself indifferent, it was one of his ministers who made an effort, however futile, to rescue Baha'u'llah from His persecutors.
The grand-daughter of these two monarchs was the first of the line of kings to recognize and accept the Mission of Baha'u'llah, a Mission which its Author has stated will eventually secure the allegiance of most of the human race.
What blessings would have come to the nation whose ruler had truly heeded the words which Baha'u'llah addressed to them. What blessings would have come to all mankind.
Baha'u'llah Himself had promised:
"How great is the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause in My Kingdom, who will detach himself from all else but Me!"
Baha'u'llah told one of the kings that if it had not been for the "repudiation" of the religious leaders and the conspiracy of the rulers, He would have given them guidance which would have "thrilled and carried away the hearts"; a guidance which would "cheer the eyes" and "tranquilize the souls" of men.
Baha'u'llah severely censured those kings who refused to make any effort to investigate the truth of His Faith. Their failure was reflected and repeated in their neglect of their responsibility to God for the welfare of their people and the peace of the world.
We should not, however, make the mistake of thinking that this condemnation represented a criticism of kingship itself. Much less can it be regarded as an attack on established government. Baha'u'llah foretold the day when "just" kings and other rulers would arise and seize the opportunity which earlier leaders had so tragically missed.
"Ere long will God make manifest on earth kings who will recline on the couches of justice, and will rule amongst men even as they rule their own selves. They, indeed, are among the choicest of My creatures in the entire creation."
Baha'u'llah described the blessing which such leadership would bring to the entire planet:
"0 concourse of the rulers of the world! There is no force on earth that can equal in its conquering power the force of justice and wisdom... Blessed is the king who marcheth with the ensign of wisdom unfurled before him, and the battalions of justice massed in his rear. He verily is the ornament that adorneth the brow of peace and the countenance of security. There can be no doubt whatever that if the day star of justice, which the clouds of tyranny have obscured, were to shed its light upon men, the face of the earth would he completely transformed."
In Queen Victoria's case, we are so familiar with the halo of respect surrounding her and her throne that we are in danger of overlooking an important historical fact. This fact has far-ranging implications for our story.
When Victoria ascended the throne in 1838 the British monarchy was at the lowest ebb in its history. Her grandfather George III had been insane. Her uncle George IV was a national disgrace, the inspiration for the vulgar nursery-rhyme "Georgie Porgie." Her immediate predecessor, her second uncle, William IV, was publicly mocked during his lifetime, and on the day of his funeral was described by the London "Times" as "only a common sort of person." Victoria was a young, inexperienced woman, the last member of a junior branch of the family. She appeared to have little to commend her. It was "common knowledge" in London that she would be the last British monarch; that Britain would follow France, the United States and other "progressive" nations in establishing a republic.
In fact, Victoria was to rule for sixty years and leave the monarchy more secure than it had ever been in its history!
Baha'u'llah clearly indicated that even the slightest response to God's call would bring very great blessings. The tiniest ray of light penetrating the camera lens can imprint upon the receptive film an entire picture. The mind is staggered at the potential which could be released by a mass response to the divine summons.
Unlike Queen Victoria and her government, the other European monarchs had been far removed from the will of God. They had experienced the full effect of their neglect of their trust and the irrelevancy of their pursuits.
The nineteenth century monarchs who were the exact antithesis of Baha'u'llah's teachings, however, were the Kings of Persia and Turkey.
They not only failed to make the slightest response to Baha'u'llah's words, but actively joined forces repeatedly to persecute, imprison and exile the Messenger of God. Within one of these two empires, over twenty thousand of the early followers of the Baha'i Faith were slain in the most barbarous fashion.
These next two kings were described by Baha'u'llah, one as "the Prince of Oppressors," the other as occupying the "Throne of Tyranny."
He said that God would make them "an object lesson for the world."