Forbes, William

, bishop of Edinburgh, was born in 1585, at Aberdeen, where he went through the courses of classical learning and philosophy. He was admitted master of arts at sixteen, and immediately afterwards made professor of logic: he applied himself to support Aristotle’s logic against the Ramists. Afterwards he went to travel, and made a great progress in divinity and the Hebrew language, in the universities of Germ-ant, during the four years he passed in that country. He then visited the university of Leyden, where he was greatly esteemed. His ill state of health not permitting him to undertake a journey into France and Italy, as he would willingly have done, he went over to England. The fame of his learning soon proclaimed him there, so that the university of Oxford offered him a professorship of Hebrew; which, however, he did not accept, because the physicians advised him to return to his native country. The magistrates of Aberdeen expressed a particular esteem for him. He recovered his health, and accepted at first a private cure; but afterwards, being strongly solicited by the inhabitants, went to be preacher in his native city. He was admitted doctor of divinity, when king James, among other regulations, had settled it with the deputies of the clergy, that the academical degrees and dignities should be restored to their ancient course. The labour of preaching hurting his health, they gave him a less painful employment, making hint principal of Markchal-college. He was afterwards | dean of the faculty of divinity, and then rector of the university; a post immediately under the chancellor. Then he became pastor at Edinburgh, and was received there with every mark of friendship; but people’s dispositions being changed, from their warm attachment to the antiepiscopal discipline of Geneva, he withdrew himself, and retired to his own country. He was sent for some years after by Charles I. who had caused himself to be crowned at Edinburgh in 1633; and he preached before the monarch with great eloquence and learning. That prince, having founded an episcopal church at Edinburgh, knew of none more worthy to fill the new see than Dr. Forbes. He was consecrated with the usual ceremonies, and applied himself wholly to the functions of his dignity: but fell sick soon after, and died in 1634, after having enjoyed his bishopric only three months.

Though able and learned, he had published nothing, and composed very little. He wrote a treatise tending to pacify controversies, which was printed at London in 1658, with this title, “Considerationes modestae et pacificae controversiarum de justificatione, purgatorio, invocatione Sanctorum, Christo Mediatore, Kucharistia.” “This posthumous work,” says ttoe author of his life, “is a signal specimen and proof of a pacific temper, and a moderate mind: wherein, like a second Cassander, and catholic moderator, he endeavours to compose, or at least to mitigate, the rigid and austere opinions, in certain points of religious controversy, both of the reformed and of the popish party. How greatly he regarded moderation, appears from that usual saying of his, that, if there had been more Cassanders and Wiceliuses, there would have been no occasion for a Luther, or a Calvin.” He had another saying concerning letters, as good as this concerning religion: it was, “Lege plura, et scribe pauciora,” “Read more, and write less.” It was a piece of advice he gave to one, who used a great deal of paper; and the result of a resolution, which he himself had made, not to write much. 1


Bio. Brit. Gen. Dict. by —Bayle.