By virtue of this station, they have claimed for themselves the Voice of Divinity and the like, whilst by virtue of their station of Messengership, they have declared themselves the Messengers of God. In every instance they have voiced an utterance that would conform to the requirements of the occasion, and have ascribed all these declarations to Themselves, declarations ranging from the realm of divine Revelation to the realm of creation, and from the domain of Divinity even unto the domain of earthly existence. Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance, whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship, Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostleship or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Therefore, these sayings which We have quoted in support of Our argument must be attentively considered, that the divergent utterances of the Manifestations of the Unseen and Daysprings of Holiness may cease to agitate the soul and perplex the mind.
This is the Tablet in its entirety: http://bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/gwb/022.html
Here is one way to view these stations:
Divinity: In this station, the Voice speaks in the mode of the Primal Will.
Lordship: In this station, the Voice expresses divine authority and command in relation to the believers and humanity.
Prophethood: In this station, through visions and inspired perceptions, the future is prophesied in veiled or clear language. The Prophetic Cycle also was one of expectation of future fulfillment. As Baha’u'llah states in a quote in Baha’i World Faith:
“It is evident that every age in which a Manifestation of God hath lived is divinely ordained, and may, in a sense, be characterized as God’s appointed Day. This Day, however, is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation “Seal of the Prophets” fully revealeth its high station. The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the Ensign of Power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded splendor of His Revelation.” (http://bahai-library.com/compilations/bwf/bwf1.html)
Messengership: In this station, the Manifestations and Prophets speak in the mode of delivering a divine Message.
Guardianship: Shoghi Effendi is an outward example of this station, in which the guidance and bestowals of the Holy Spirit protect, instruct, guide, and interpret and expound on the meanings and application of the Word of God. Without defining the institution of the Guardianship, the Messengers and Prophets expressed this station as well.
Apostleship: The Imams and Disciples are outward examples of the station of Apostleship. This is the role of being a champion for the spread of a new Revelation. The Apostles of Baha’u'llah, for example, opened new countries to the Baha’i Revelation.
Servitude: All the Disciples, Imams, Apostles, Prophets and Messengers also expressed the station of Servitude.
The stations in this context don’t seem sequential or hierarchical in nature.
Baha’u'llah draws our attention to the problem:
“…most of the people have failed to appreciate those stations to which We have referred, they, therefore, feel perplexed and dismayed at the varying utterances pronounced by Manifestations that are essentially one and the same.“
And He gives this instruction:
“…these sayings which We have quoted in support of Our argument must be attentively considered, that the divergent utterances of the Manifestations of the Unseen and Daysprings of Holiness may cease to agitate the soul and perplex the mind.“
And He explains:
“These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity.“
“The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation, and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation.“
Baha’u'llah also states:
“Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye be tempted to make any distinction between any of the Manifestations of His Cause, or to discriminate against the signs that have accompanied and proclaimed their Revelation. This indeed is the true meaning of Divine Unity, if ye be of them that apprehend and believe this truth. Be ye assured, moreover, that the works and acts of each and every one of these Manifestations of God, nay whatever pertaineth unto them, and whatsoever they may manifest in the future, are all ordained by God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose.“ (http://bahai-library.com/compilations/bwf/bwf1.html)
So, it seems that grasping the meaning of Divine Unity enables us to appreciate the distinctions of station, while not falling into the trap of making distinctions between the Manifestations of the Cause of God.
The Divine Unity study materials are focused on initiating wayfarers into the mysteries of these stations, the journeys of the soul, the grades of perception, the significance of the stories and parables of the past, and so forth.
“It is because of this difference in their station and mission that the words and utterances flowing from these Well Springs of Divine knowledge appear to diverge and differ. Otherwise, in the eyes of them that are initiated into the mysteries of Divine wisdom, all their utterances are, in reality, but the expressions of one Truth.“
O ye steadfast loved ones! The grace of God is beating down upon mankind, even as the rains in spring, and the rays of the manifest Light have made this earth to be the envy of heaven. But alas, the blind are deprived of this bounty, the heedless are closed off from it, the withered despair of it, the faded are dying away — so that even as flooding waters, this endless stream of grace passeth back into its primal source in a hidden sea. Only a few receive this grace and take their share of it. Wherefore, let us put our hopes in whatever the strong arm of the Beloved can bring about.
We trust that in a time to come the slumberers will waken, and the heedless will be made aware, and the excluded will become initiates in the mysteries. Now must the friends work on with heart and soul and put forth a mighty effort, until the ramparts of dissension are toppled down and the glories of the oneness of humanity lead all to unity.
Today the one overriding need is unity and harmony among the beloved of the Lord, for they should have among them but one heart and soul and should, so far as in them lieth, unitedly withstand the hostility of all the peoples of the world; they must bring to an end the benighted prejudices of all nations and religions and must make known to every member of the human race that all are the leaves of one branch, the fruits of one bough.
Until such time, however, as the friends establish perfect unity among themselves, how can they summon others to harmony and peace?
That soul which hath itself not come alive,
Can it then hope another to revive?
The holy Manifestations of God were sent down to make visible the oneness of humanity…. Therefore must the desire of the friends be this, to bring together and unify all peoples…. Let them loose from their shackles the captives of sensual desires and cause the excluded to become intimates of the mysteries…. This grace can come about through words and ways and deeds that are of the Unseen Kingdom but, lacking such, it can never be.
Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 276
Your fellow wayfarer,