I am guessing that many people have never actually read the Puritans. If they had they would not be able to maintain the view that Puritans are impractical men with their head in the clouds—helpful to nobody and a nuisance to all. These men were deeply helpful and excelled in soul care.
William Bridge is one of those Puritans. In his work, A Lifting up for the Downcast, Bridge gives seven differences between weak grace and counterfeit grace. If you are wondering how you can determine if your struggles reveal that you merely have counterfeit grace, Bridge hopes to open up for you the possibility that it is weak grace and not counterfeit*. Here are seven marks of weak, but true, grace.
- True grace, though weak, will not oppose more grace
- True grace loves examination; counterfeit grace likes to hide.
- True grace seeks to grow in knowledge of God
- True grace is engaged in the work of humiliation
- True, though weak, grace is always laying the foundation; counterfeit grace pursues another foundation.
- True grace is willing to learn from other people; counterfeit grace will not relish what is brought to him by the hand of another.
- True grace is very sensible of its own weakness
That fifth point is a little difficult to summarize. Listen to how Bridge expounded upon it:
[True grace] staggers at the promise, yet it goes to the promise; it doubts of Christ’s love, yet it runs to Christ; it stumbles, yet it keeps its way; it is ignorant of Christ, and not so forward in the knowledge of Christ as it should be, yet it lays the foundation, Hebrews 6:1. It is the fault of a weak Christian, that he is always laying the foundation, yet he is laying the foundation. (Bridge, 101)
*I have modernized Bridge’s language where necessary.
You can (and should) purchase Bridge’s work here.