Do you *really* want to be filled with the Spirit?

“You, entertaining a certain conception of the Spirit, ask for the Spirit and suppose that His influences will all correspond with a conception that you have formed. You expect Him, for instance, to be to you a spirit of consolation, and compass you about with the ambrosial airs of paradise. You understand that He is to lift you into a supermundane ethereal sphere where poetic visions of the islands of the blessed shall come flashing upon you upon the right hand and upon the left.

But the Spirit is Truth and He must come in His true character or not at all. You have solicited His ministrations and they are not withheld. But how surprised you are when He takes you by the hand and you prepare for a rapturous ascent into the Empyrean to find that He has taken you by the hand for the purpose of conducting you down into some deep, dark dungeon-like chambers of imagery. In vain you shudder and draw back. You only discover thereby what an iron grasp He has. He bids you look upon those hideous images and observe how they body forth the great features of your past life.

One abominable statue is named selfishness and its lofty pedestal is completely carved with inscriptions of dates. You look at these dates – your Guide constrains you to – and you are appalled to find that what you regarded as the most beautiful and most consecrated hours of your past life are there; even there. There is a repulsive image called covetousness, and you say boldly, Sure I am that no date of mine is there inscribed. Alas, there are many, and some that you thought golden connecting you with heaven – anger, wrath, malice, see how the odious monsters seem to wink at you from their seats as at a well-known comrade; how the picture of your past life is made ugly on their pedestals. You have looked unbelief in the face, and frowning tell him that you know him not. Whatever your faults you have never been an unbeliever. The Spirit constrains you to observe that unbelief claims, and justly claims, the whole of your past life.

A profound humiliation and a piercing sorrow possess your heart. At least you say, standing opposite the image of falsehood, I am no liar, I hate all falsehood with a perfect hatred. The Spirit of God points you to the fatal evidence. You examine the dates and you see that some of them refer even to your seasons of prayer. At length, altogether humbled, dispirited and conscience-stricken you acknowledge that here in these damp subterranean galleries, and in the midst of these abominable images is your true home. You remember with shame the ideas with which you have greeted the Spirit, and you fall at His feet confessing all your folly. There does He raise you and lead you into the open air beneath the blessed canopy of heaven, and you find a chariot in which you may unforbidden take your place beside the Spirit and visit the places of joy that are above the earth.”

– George Bowen, Missionary to India