And now behold by the power of God, as far as in me lay, I have accomplished my ministry, announcing to thee the knowledge of him, and making known unto thee the preaching of the Prophets and Apostles, and teaching thee unerringly and soothly the vanity of the present life, and the evils with which this world teems, which cruelly deceiveth them that trust therein, and taketh them in many a gin.
A kind of seeming seriousness in the performance of duties, and in seeking of God, deceiveth many. They think, because they are not conscious to their own dissembling, but they look upon themselves as earnest in what they do, that therefore all is well. Sayeth not Christ, that not "every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of God?"
For if a man have any presumption in his fantasies and in his workings, and thereby falleth in to indiscreet imagination, as it were in a frenzy, and is not ordered nor ruled of grace, nor comforted by ghostly strength, the devil entereth in, and by his false illuminations, and by his false sounds, and by his false sweetnesses, he deceiveth a man's soul.
Thou shalt depart from darkness and the shadow of death, and hate the world and the ruler of the world; and, counting thy perishable flesh thine enemy, thou shalt run toward the light that is unapproachable, and taking the Cross on thy shoulders, shalt follow Christ without looking back, that thou mayest also be glorified with him, and be made inheritor of the life that never changeth nor deceiveth."
For the assaults of the devil be crafty to make us put our trust in such armour, he will feign himself to fly; but then we be most in jeopardy: for he can give us an after-clap when we least ween; that is, suddenly return unawares to us, and then he giveth us an after-clap that overthroweth us: this armour deceiveth us.
The Holy Ghost also determines upon this point, to wit, that they that do so deceive themselves: "For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself"; he deceiveth his own soul, he deceiveth himself of heaven and salvation. So again: "Let no man beguile you of your reward."
"He doeth great wonders in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by means of these miracles." Rev. xiii. 12, 14. "Power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." Rev. xiii. 7. "He shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every God."
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
Remember the Apostle's declaration, that "if any man bridleth not his tongue, he only seemeth to be religious, and deceiveth his own heart;" and that it is one of the characters of that love, without which all pretensions to the name of Christian are but vain, that "it doth not behave itself unseemly."
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.