Thomas Chalmers’ “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”
In this sermon Chalmers talks about the human heart’s need to have something as its chief affection — some thing, some pleasure, some material possession, some person, some status etc. He makes clear that all of these affections, if they are in the central place Christ must occupy in our hearts, are wrong affections; are idols.
He points out that as soon as one wrong affection has been overcome, another will rise in its place. We must have something at our core, and if it is not Christ it will always be an idol of some kind. Even if we beat one idol, another of a different sort, perhaps invisible to us, will come. The answer is that Christ himself must reign in our hearts. And that happens when we see him as he is. Beautiful, holy, pure, loving, merciful. Desiring and longing for his bride. This is our Lord. Let us fix our eyes on him and let our hearts be warmed to him. May he reign uncontested in our hearts and our minds.
In this passage Chalmers refers to wrong passions or affections as “tastes”. Here is the problem we have until a greater affection for Christ enters our hearts:
It is seldom that any of our tastes are made to disappear by a mere process of natural extinction. At least, it is very seldom, that this is done through the instrumentality of reasoning. It may be done by excessive pampering – but it is almost never done by the mere force of mental determination. But what cannot be destroyed, may be dispossessed and one taste may be made to give way to another, and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind.
It is thus, that the boy ceases, at length, to be the slave of his appetite, but it is because a manlier taste has now brought it into subordination – and that the youth ceases to idolize pleasure, but it is because the idol of wealth has become the stronger and gotten the ascendancy and that even the love of money ceases to have the mastery over the heart of many a thriving citizen, but it is because drawn into, the whirl of city polities, another affection has been wrought into his moral system, and he is now lorded over by the love of power. There is not one of these transformations in which the heart is left without an object. Its desire for one particular object may be conquered; but as to its desire for having some one object or other, this is unconquerable.