27 November 2006

Motivation (16): Chalmers

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), Free Church Scottish pastor known for his sermon "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection":

"There are a thousand things which, in popular and understood language, man can do. It is quite the general sentiment, that he can abstain from stealing, and lying, and calumny—that he can give of his substance to the poor, and attend church, and pray, and read his Bible, and keep up the worship of God in his family. But, as an instance of distinction between what he can do, and what he cannot do, let us make the undoubted assertion, that he can eat wormwood, and just put the question, if he can also relish wormwood. That is a different affair. I may command the performance; but have no such command over my organs of sense, as to command a liking, or a taste for the performance. . . . I may accomplish the doing of what God bids; but have no pleasure in God himself. The forcible constraining of the hand, may make out many a visible act of obedience, but the relish of the heart may refuse to go along with it. . . . The poor man has no more conquered his rebellious affections, than he has conquered his distaste for wormwood. He may fear God; he may listen to God; and, in outward deed, may obey God. But he does not, and he will not, love God; and while he drags a heavy load of tasks, and duties, and observances after him, he lives in the hourly violation of the first and greatest of the commandments."

--“An Estimate of the Morality that is Without Godliness,” in Thomas Chalmers, Sermons and Discourses, Vol. II (New York: Robert Carter, 1846), 34.

"[T]he love of gratitude differs from the love of moral esteem. . . . There is a real distinction of cause between these two affections, and there is also between them a real distinction of object. The love of moral esteem finds its complacent gratification, in the act of dwelling contemplatively on that Being, by whom it is excited; just as a tasteful enthusiast inhales delight from the act of gazing on the charms of some external scenery. The pleasure he receives, emanates directly upon his mind, from the forms of beauty and loveliness, which are around him. And if, instead of a taste for the beauties of nature, there exists within him, a taste for the beauties of holiness, then will he love the Being, who presents to the eye of his contemplation the fullest assemblage of them, and his taste will find its complacent gratification in dwelling upon him, whether as an object of thought, or as an object of perception. 'One thing have I desired,' says the Psalmist, 'that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.' Now, the love of gratitude is distinct from this in its object. It is excited by the love of kindness; and the feeling which is thus excited, is just a feeling of kindness back again."

--“The Principle of Love to God,” in Chalmers, Sermons and Discourses, 64-65.

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