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an approval of a National Church, if one could be constituted in a manner conformable to the intimations on that subject to be found in scripture, as preferable to an entire withdrawal from communion with it, he was restored to the exercise of his ministry, determined thenceforth to be more forbearing in his demands and more submissive to authority; and for this it is that Smith heaps upon him terms of the grossest abuse, Apostate, Deceiver, Worldly Man : “I do proclaim you to the whole world to be one of the most fearful apostates of the whole nation : that excepting White and Clapham you have no superior."23 A similar passage is valuable for the historical facts it contains :
“Maister Bernard, I have sufficient reasons that have moved me to break silence in respect of you, and by this letter to attempt a further trial of your pretended zeal for the truth and faith of Christ. I have long time observed the applause yielded you by the multitude. Likewise I have taken notice of your forwardness in leading to a Reformation by public proclamations in several pulpits, as if you had meant, contrary to the king's mind, to have carried all the 23 Smith's Parallels, Censures, and Observations, 4to, 1609, p. 5. people of the country after you against the ceremonies and subscription. Afterward, having lost your vicarage of Worksop for refusing subscription or conformity, I have observed how you revolted back, and upon subscription made to the Prelate of York, have re-entered upon your vicarage. Again, I have noted your vehement desire to the parsonage of Sawenby, and your extreme indignation when you were defeated of it ; further, your earnest desire to have been vicar of Gainsborough, and all this after your subscription : besides, I have carefully weighed with myself your steadiness to embrace the truth we profess.”
While at Worksop, Bernard printed several controversial writings and his Faithful Shepherd, a treatise on the duties of ministers, quarto, 1607. This is dedicated to Dr. Montagu, Dean of the Chapel Royal, an offering of thankfulness for many past favours.
He witnessed the formation of the Scrooby Church and its departure to Holland, during the time of his residence at Worksop. He ceded the living in 1612 or 1613, on his appointment to another in a distant county, the rectory of Batcombe, in Somersetshire. It was bestowed upon him by a private patron as to
a minister who, in his opinion, would best discharge the duties to the edification of the parishioners—an act both just and honourable. Here he continued till his death, publishing from time to time works in practical divinity, which had a large share of popularity, and which are sometimes reprinted even in our time. And with this I dismiss this eminent divine, best known not as Bernard of Worksop, but as Bernard of Batcombe.
I cannot, however, forbear from remarking, that we see in all this that the Puritans of North Nottinghamshire had storms of their own raising, beside that which was beating upon them from without.
Another of these ministers was RICHARD CLIFTON, Richard Clif: “a grave and reverend preacher, who by his fervour and diligence had done much good, and under God had been the means of the conversion of many.” This is what Bradford says of him in his History of the Movement,24 but in the Dialogue he admits us to the knowledge of a few more particulars relating to him :-“Mr. Richard Clifton was a good and fatherly old man when he came first into Holland, having a great white beard ; and pity it was that such
24 Young, p. 22.
a reverend old man should be forced to leave his country, and at those years to go into exile. But it was his lot, and he bore it patiently. Much good had he done in the country where he lived, and converted many to God by his faithful and painful ministry, both in preaching and catechising. Sound and orthodox he always was, and so continued to his end. He belonged to the church at Leyden ; but being settled at Amsterdam and then aged, he was loath to remove any more ; and so when they removed he was dismissed to them there, and there remained until he died."25
When the Separatists who remained in Nottinghamshire after the removal of Smith's church into Holland formed themselves in church order, Clifton became either Pastor or Teacher, probably the latter, while John Robinson, a man to be afterwards named, held the other office and Brewster was the Ruling Elder. When in Holland he, like Bernard, was engaged in bitter controversies with Smith, both being exiles, escaping from that church authority which would have kept them both in some order at home. My researches respecting Clifton enable me to
25 Young, p. 453.
enlarge the accounts we have of him, and to fix certain dates in his life, important not only in his personal history, but in the history of the church of which he was one of the founders. Bradford does not inform us in which of the parishes of Nottinghamshire he exercised his ministry while he remained in the church, and whence his religious influence on his neighbours must have emanated. I find, however, that he was instituted on July 11th, 1586, to the rectory of Babworth, a country village a short distance from Scrooby, now the seat of the family of Simpson (Bridgeman), the present incumbent being one of that family. He is also in all probability the minister of the same name who was instituted on February the 12th, 1585, to the vicarage of Marnham in the same county of Nottingham. But Babworth was the place at which he resided, though the church there has now no memorials of him.
The dates given above are taken from public ecclesiastical documents, but for what follows we are indebted to a private writing of his family which has been accidentally preserved.
Not long ago, I learned that there was an old Bible of the English translation in the Library of Sir Robert