Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Forbes, James (1629?-1712)

FORBES, JAMES (1629?–1712), nonconformist divine, a Scotchman, was born in or about 1629. He was educated at Aberdeen, where he proceeded M.A., being subsequently admitted ad eundem at Oxford. In 1654 he was sent to Gloucester Cathedral, where he preached ‘ with great success, but to the apparent danger of shortening his life.’ At the Restoration he was speedily ejected from the cathedral, but he still continued at Gloucester, ‘ministering privately as he could.’ Struck by his talents, Robert Frampton [q. v.], then dean, but afterwards bishop of Gloucester, ‘courted him to conformity in vain.’ In consequence of Yarrington's, or rather Packington's, plot, he was committed to Chepstow Castle, where he was long kept in a ‘strait and dark’ room. On regaining his liberty he returned to his pastoral charge, in the pursuit of which he was often imprisoned in Gloucester, on one occasion for a whole year. During the reign of Charles II he was indicted upon the Corporation Act, the penalty of which was imprisonment. He was also indicted on 23 James I, the penalty of which was 20l. a month, and upon 35 Elizabeth, of which the penalty was to abjure the realm or suffer death. At the same time, also, he was excommunicated, and the writ de excom. capiendo was out against him. At the time of Monmouth's rebellion he retired to Enfield, Middlesex, and there continued unmolested in his ministry. He was afterwards recalled to Gloucester, where he continued to labour until his death, ‘though to his disadvantage.’ Altogether, he exercised his ministry in Gloucester for fifty-eight years ‘wanting but one month.’ He died 31 May 1712, aged 83, and was buried under his own communion-table. His funeral sermon was preached by John Noble of Bristol. Calamy, who represents him as the model of a nonconformist divine, states that at his death he left many gifts to charitable uses, including his library, which was of considerable value. Forbes was the author of: 1. ‘Nehustan; or, John Elliot's “Saving Grace in all Men” proved to be No Grace, and His Increated Being in All, a Great Nothing. By J. F.,’ 4to, London, 1694. Elliot, who was a Gloucester quaker, published a reply in the following year, ‘The Grace of God asserted to be Saving and Increated.’ 2. ‘A Summary of that Knowledge and Practice that leads to Heaven,’ 8vo, London, 1700. 3. ‘God's Goodness to His Israel in All Ages. Being the Substance of some Sermons on Psalm lxxiii. 1. By J. F., minister of the Gospel,’ 8vo, London, 1700. 4. ‘Pastoral Instruction: being some Remains of the Reverend James Forbes, M.A., late Minister of the Gospel in Glocester. Containing I. A Farewel-Letter of Advice to his People. II. The Sum of the Last Sermon he preach'd before the Ministers of his County, June 19th, 1711. III. His Short Counsel to Youth. To which is added his Funeral-Sermon, preach'd at Glocester, June 3d, 1712. By J[ohn] N[oble],’ 8vo, London, 1713. His portrait has been engraved (Evans, Cat. of Engraved Portraits, ii. 156).

[Calamy and Palmer's Nonconf. Memorial (1802–3), ii. 245, 249–51; Joseph Smith's Bibliotheca Anti-Quakeriana, p. 186.]

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