I read a sermon by John Baptist Massillon this morning. I have never read him and thought I’d see what he had to say about “The Small Number of the Saved”.
A verse that always sobers any Christian. The context is about hating the world, the flesh, and the devil. I think I will begin this passage with the end of it, where he poses a very sobering question that were we to carefully consider may make us blush, or worse. Here goes---
“And, should it happen, that you alone were left upon the earth, may we not say that the corrupt world would be revived in you; and that you would leave an exact model of it to your posterity? When I say you, I mean, and I address myself to almost all men.”
The way I reflected on it was to consider that the world had a clean slate, and the only corruption that would influence it would come from me. How Holy a place would it be?
I shudder to think.
On with the balance of the thought---
"We are told that we are to hate “the world, the flesh, and the devil.”
Now, what is this world which you ought to hate? I have only to answer that it it’s the one you love. You will never mistake it by this mark.
This world is a society of sinners, whose desires, fears hopes cares projects, joys, and chagrins, no longer turn but upon the successes or misfortunes of this life.
This world is an assemblage of people who look upon the earth as their country; the time to come as an exilement; the promises of faith as a dream; and death as the greatest of all misfortunes. This world is a temporal kingdom, where our Savior is unknown; where those acquainted with His name, glorify Him not as their Lord, hate His maxims, despise His followers, and neglect or insult Him in His sacraments and worship. In a word, to give a proper idea at once of this world, it is the vast multitude. Behold the world which you ought to shun, hate, and war against by your example.
Now, is this your situation in regard to the world? Are its pleasures a fatigue to you? Do it excesses afflict you? Do you regret the length of your pilgrimage here? Or on the contrary, are not its laws your laws; its maxims your maxims? What it condemns, do you not condemn? What it approves do you not approve?
And, should it happen, that you alone were left upon the earth, may we not say that the corrupt world would be revived in you; and that you would leave an exact model of it to your posterity? When I say you, I mean, and I address myself to almost all men.”