Richard Bernard.—This excellent divine was born in the year in 1567, and educated in Christ's college, Cam. bridge. He was a young man of good natural parts; and, having raised the expectations of his friends, the Countess of Warwick took him under her patronage, and sent him
• Neat's Puritans, Vo1, ii. p. 375, 376.
+ Crosby's Baptists, Jo1, i. p. 163. J Ibid. Voi. Mi. p. 41.
to the university. He had other liberal friends also, who assisted and encouraged him in his preparatory studies. Having finished his academical pursuits at Cambridge, he became vicar of Worksop in Nottinghamshire, where he experienced great encouragement in his ministry, and was exceedingly beloved by his people. As a preacher, he was much followed, and his labours were rendered a blessing to many. From the date of some of his writings, it appears that he was at Worksop in the year 1005; but how long he had been in this situation, previous to that period, we are not able to ascertain.
About the year 1613, Mr. Bernard, on account of his excellent learning, genuine piety, and ministerial abilities, was presented to the living of Batcombe in Somersetshire. He received the presentation from Dr. Bisse, who had been minister of the place almost from the commencement of the reformation. This reverend and venerable pastor, it is said, purchased the advowson of Batcombe to present once only, for which he gave st 200; and though he had a son in the ministry, he constantly resolved to bestow it lis the Lord should direct him. Therefore, upon the presentation of the benefice, he spake to Mr. Bernard and others in these words: " I do this day lay aside nature, respect of profit, flesh and blood, in thus bestowing, as I do, my living, only in hope of profiting and edifying my people's souls;" after which he did not live above three weeks. This, his last act, he called his packing-penm/ between God and himself.
In this situation, as well as the former, Mr. Bernard laboured more abundantly than many of his brethren, and his endeavours were rendered extensively useful. He was opposed to a total separation from the church, and wrote with some zeal against the Brownists; but was an enemy to the imposition of human ceremonies in divine worship, and wrote against them as unlawful. He was indeed called a conformable puritan, though he refused to observe many of the ceremonies, and the exact conformity required of the clergy. It is supposed that he obtained some connivance and indulgence from the Bishop of Winchester, his diocesan, who had been one of his familiar associates at the university: and on this account he escaped those suspensions and deprivations under which many of his brethren . frequently groaned. He was a hard student, a most exem- . plary christian, and much addicted to acts of charity; also a judicious, affectionate, and profitable preacher, being filled with zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of
Bonk.* He died in the month of March, 1641, aged seventy-' four years.t Fuller has given him a place among the learned writers of Christ's college, Cambridge ;t and Granger denominates him " the worthy rector of Batcombe in Somersetshire."^
Mr. Conant gives the following account of Mr. Bernard's character, labours, and usefulness: " I had for sundry years past, some intimate acquaintance with him; during which time, as, by the testimony of many godly and learned persons long before, he hath constantly been very laborious in the public exercise of his ministry; the fruit whereof was sealed by the conversion of many souls to God. His labours in the ministry were bestowed not only in his own congregation, but in several of the adjacent market towns; where weekly lectures were for many years continued, by the free and voluntary assistance of pious, godly, and orthodox divines, until they were, by the last bishop of that diocese, to the great prej udice of many souls, imperiously suppressed. Iif his ministerial work he was a leader and pattern to many, exemplifying in his sermons that method of preaching, which many years since, in his " Faithful Shepherd," he prescribed, or at least proposed, in writing. Divers painful and profitable labourers in the Lord's vineyard had their first initiation and direction from and under him; to whom also many others had recourse, and from whom they borrowed no small light and encouragement. His people, by his constant pains in catechising, (wherein he had an excellent facility,) as well as his preaching, were more than ordinary proficients in the knowledge of the things of God; and the youth of his congregation were very ready in giving a clear account of their faith, whereof he would often speak with much rejoicing. That the knowledge of his people was not merely speculative, appeared by the many liberal contributions which, for pious and charitable uses, were made by them; wherein, I suppose, they were not inferior to any congregation in the whole county wherein he lived.
" His preaching and catechizing," our author adds, " were accompanied with zeal, frequency, and fervency in prayer, wherein he was very ready and powerful, and whereby all his other labours became the more successful. With all these, his ordinary and more private conversation
• MS. Chronology, vol. iii. A. D. 1640. p. 42.
t Wood's Athene Oxod. vol. ii. p. 514.
t Hist, of Cam. p. 92.
S Granger's Bios. Hist. vol. 11. p. 189.
held a good correspondence; he being bold, expert, and candid in admonishing or reproving, as occasion presented; tender also and cqyd iafin comforting the afflicted or wounded spirit; and, in a word, he shewed much integrity in ail his actions. He was, in his private studies, according to that strong constitution wherewith God bad blessed him, indefatigable : the benefit whereof the church of God enjoyeth, in those many tractates written and printed by him; as most men versed in theological studies will give testimony."* He was a learned divine and a zealous pastor, of which his numerous writings afford ample proof. They also discover great precision of thought, and much strength and energy of mind. It is added, that the same uncommon ardour which is discovered throughout his writings, was, during a long and laborious ministry, manifested with extensive effects in his immediate and extra-parochial engagements.t Mr. Bernard had for his assistants at Batcombe, Mr. Robert Balsom the puritan, then Mr. Edward Bennet; and for his successor, Mr. Richard Allein; both ejected in 1662. f *
His Works.—1. Dissuasions from the Way of Separation, 1005.— 2. Twelve Argument* proving; that the Ceremonies imposed upon the Ministers in the Church of England, by the Prelates, are unlawful, and therefore that the Ministers of the Gospel, for the bare and sole Omission of them for Conscience sake, are most unjustly charged with Disloyalty to her Majesty, 1605.—3. A Key for the Opening of the Mysteries of the Revelation of St John, 1617.—4. Fabulous Foundation of the Popedom, shewing that St Peter was never at Rome, 1610.—5. The Good Man's Grace, or his Stay in all his Distress, 1621. —6. The Faithful Shepherd and his Practice, 1621.—7. The Seven Golden Candlesticks, or the Sevenfold State of God's Church here on Earth, 1621.—8. An Answer to that Question, ' Where was your Religion before Luther? 1624.—9. Rhemcs against Rome, 1626.—
10. A Guide to Grand Jurymen in Cases of Witchcraft, 1627.—
11. Bible Battles, 1629.—12. Of the Nature and Differences of Conscience, 1631.—13. The Isle of Man; or, the Legal Proceedings in Manshire against Sin, 1632.§—14. The Ready Way to good Works; or, a Treatise of Charity, 1636.—15. A Three-fold Treatise of the Sabbath, on Gen. ii.3., 1641.—16. A short View of the Prelatical Church of England, 1641.—17. The Bible's Abstract and Epitome, 1642.—18. Thesaurus Biblicus seu promptnarium sacrum, 1644. The last of these articles was republished, with enlargements, in 16S1, and discovers the author's great learning and uncommon labour.
• Bernard's Isle of Han, p. 12—15. Edit. I80S. t Ibid. p. 10. 1 Palmer's Noncon. Mem. vol.il. p. 139, ill. p. 167. S Tbli was the righth edition of this excellent, though somewhat quaint little work, written in the form of an allegory. It was republlibed lo 1803.