Project Canterbury

Alexander Penrose Forbes:
Bishop of Brechin, the Scottish Pusey
by William Perry

London: SPCK, 1939.


(i) Eucharistic Controversy

"BUT that the doctrine of the Eucharist", says the Bishop, "has been dragged before the public, I would let it rest in the recesses of my heart. It is only a constraining duty and a profound conviction of the necessity of the case, which induces me to address you at this time." These were the words in which the Bishop in his Primary Charge justified himself for dealing with a subject which at the time was bound to arouse controversy. The Charge, which was delivered to the clergy of the diocese in Synod on August 5, 1857, was read from proof-sheets, for it was not an exhortation to the unlearned, but a short treatise addressed to the accredited teachers of the faith, and intended for publication as such. Throughout the Charge the Bishop speaks with diffidence as to his capacity for dealing with a subject so liable to misconception. "God and God's people pardon me, if I have spoken amiss; God and God's people accept my words, if they have been spoken according to his will." The substance and spirit of the Charge will be best understood from a summary of its contents, illustrated by extracts in the Bishop's own words.

"Is the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper a partaking of the living Christ or merely the memorial of the Dead? "That is the question which demands a definite answer. Are the words of Christ recorded in the New Testament" mere figures of speech, oriental expressions of exaggerated value to imply only that effect upon our souls which a living faith in Him produces"?

1. He begins his treatment of the subject by refusing to be tied to the Thirty-nine Articles alone; his attitude to these is that which prevails almost universally to-day. The Articles, he maintains, were never intended to be the sole rule of faith; they are "rather statements about truths than the truths themselves", and they must be interpreted in the light of the historical circumstances in which they were drawn up. The Church Catechism, the Book of Common Prayer, the four General Councils of the Church, and "the ancient fathers" have all to be taken into account as representing the mind of the Anglican Church. But the paramount rule of faith is Holy Scripture. No decision on matters of faith can be binding if it claim the sanction of any one of these authorities to the exclusion of the other four.

Throughout the Charge the Bishop appeals to all these authorities, which he reinforces by extracts from representative Anglican divines such as Jeremy Taylor and Lancelot Andrewes.

2. Coming to the Eucharist itself, he begins with the "Everlasting Presence of Jesus Christ in the mysteries of the new law". "To feel and to know that Jesus is set forth as a Propitiation, not only for the universal redemption, but for our individual salvation--that the Objective Atonement made for us by the Life and Death of our dear Redeemer, is here made Subjective--that all He did and suffered for the human race is here made over to us and sealed to us by an everlasting Sacrament--that the ties which sin had broken and mortality had loosened are here again united, and we are in Christ, and Christ in us--all this surely surpasses the language of man to describe. Alas! that men should so seek to stunt and cripple the Gospel, as to deprive it of this its highest manifestation, and after nineteen hundred years of the holy experience of the saints, should still demand, in doubt and coldness of heart, 'How can this Man give us His Flesh to eat?'"

He rejects Transubstantiation on the sensible ground that the Church should not commit itself to the terminology of a philosophy (the philosophy of substance) which may be wrong. He deprecates human definitions of a profound mystery. "Let others dispute, I will marvel." He treats as inadequate the conception of the Presence as one of power and efficacy only. "How", he says, "can that which is not the Body of Christ produce the effect of the Body of Christ? That is bad philosophy." This theory also, he holds, fails to do justice to Scripture, the language of the Book of Common Prayer or the teaching of such Anglican divines as Alexander Knox. Finally, in an eloquent passage he appeals to the personal experience of the faithful Christian.

Yes, these holy men, and we, in spite of our manifold sins and infinite negligences, feel that it is no mere grace or effulgence or energy that is received, but Christ the Immortal King Who hath on His thigh and vesture a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords; the holy innocent undefiled High Priest, separate from sinners, now made higher than the heavens; the true Physician Who came to heal our infirmities and carry our sorrows, the Redeemer Who has bought us with His own most precious Blood as a Lamb without spot; the true Bread from heaven, of Whom it is said, "they that eat Me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink Me shall yet be thirsty", Who satisfieth "the longing soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness". How deep and how incommunicable are the thoughts which this mystery of Divine love and condescension suggests to the Christian soul!

3. The second point is reception by the wicked to their condemnation. May it not be that "Christ may, in certain cases, be present in the Sacrament not to bless but to judge"? The Bishop adds, however, that this doctrine "has never been ruled by the Church and is not de fide".

4. The third point is the Adoration of Christ in the Sacrament, a question which, says Forbes, must be approached with reverence and caution. He first disowns "those novel devotions of the Roman Church such as processions of Corpus Christi in foreign countries". Worship or adoration is due not to the gifts, but to Christ in the gifts, and he quotes Bishop Andrewes and Bishop William Forbes of Edinburgh to that effect. In dealing with the Article which seems definitely to condemn this practice, he agrees that obviously the Sacrament was ordained to be the perpetual application of Christ's Sacrifice, and "not to be carried about", or, as he puts it, "not to be a Palladium to confine His Presence to certain local bounds". But adoration or worship of Christ in the Sacrament is the natural consequence of his Presence there. "How any belief in the Divine Gift in the Holy Eucharist can exist without this prostration of the soul and spirit, I am at a loss to conceive. It seems to be a logical necessity. Either Christ is present, or He is not. If He is, He ought to be adored; if He is not, cadit quaestio" ("the question is ended"). He further makes the point, without, however, pressing it, that the rubric enjoining the priest to "kneel at reception" was quite new at the Reformation; the practice earlier was for the priest to receive standing; the change was made in the interests of reverence, and if it does not imply adoration, it goes far in that direction. Nevertheless the Church, he continues, does not countenance any such extravagant gestures and inclinations "as one has seen exceptionally used in our churches", and he counsels his clergy to discourage any of their flock from anything eccentric in regard to their mode of conducting themselves during the Divine Mysteries. He further urges that "a certain proportion should be kept between the ritual and the religious life of a congregation", and declares that congregations have become irritated and discontented by clergy who have pressed too far the aesthetic expression of Christianity, with the result that "God's work in some places has been undone and destroyed". Here he is doubtless thinking specially of St. Saviour's, Leeds.

5. Lastly comes the doctrine of the Christian sacrifice. This and the previous subject were the chief causes of Forbes' condemnation. Unfortunately, he does not define the misleading word "sacrifice", but instead draws a preliminary distinction between active sacrifice and passive sacrifice: actively, the sacrifice is the rite; passively, the sacrifice is the victim--just as it was in the Passover, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast". Now, in the sense that the sacrifice is the rite, it is not the same as that of the Cross; but in the sense that it is the Victim, it is evident that, as a consequence of the Real Presence, the sacrifice of the Eucharist and of the Cross are "substantially one"; "substantially", he explained later, is used not in the popular, but in the scholastic sense.

Christ was offered on the Cross; the same Christ is commemorated and pleaded in the Holy Mysteries. The words "This is my Body" imply the identity of the two sacrifices or, as he preferred to say, of the one Sacrifice in its two aspects. Forbes is more convincing when he proceeds to explain this as meaning that the Sacrifice of the Cross must not be disjoined from the Sacrifice of the altar. The Sacrifice in the Eucharist is "in some mysterious way, in a sense transcendental, one with the Offering of Calvary". On the other hand, taking the word sacrifice actively, as the rite, the sacrifice is not the same as the Sacrifice of the Cross. It is "only the image of that and of the everlasting Eucharist which is for ever going on in heaven through the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world".

The Sacrifice of the Cross is the one finished Sacrifice, but that Sacrifice was not confined to the few hours on the Cross. It is an eternal act. There is no reiteration of the one Sacrifice.

As a necessary and logical consequence of the Incarnation, there has taken place a "Commercium" between Heaven and earth. The things of time are merged in those of Eternity. The worship has blended into one united act. The Apostle describes the adoration on high in the language of the Sanctuary below, and the rites and ordinances of that Sanctuary were confessedly the types and patterns of heavenly things. Man now adores and is adored in Heaven--for there the Son of Man is both God, Priest, and Victim--and God now pleads on earth in the person of His Ambassadors, whose acts are as "though Christ did beseech" by them. The Cross of Calvary casts its blessed shadow across the floor of the Church below. The Sacraments belong not to time, but are above it. In these we rise from the relative into the absolute.

Forbes admits that thinkers have not as yet succeeded in discovering a vocabulary in which the truth can be expressed in modern terms, and till that is possible the wisest thing to do is to use the language of Scripture and of the Liturgies and Fathers of the Church.

He ends his Charge with a defence of the Scottish Liturgy. "I never have been able to appreciate that narrow-minded view which felt a difficulty in the idea of two offices (for the Celebration of Holy Communion) being used in one Church." He is aware of the strong prejudice which exists against the national rite, so strong that the Scottish Office in those days was not used at all in the diocese of Edinburgh, and found a welcome hardly anywhere save in the diocese of Aberdeen. "My own attachment to this office is not a bigoted one. I use the English Office constantly myself; I believe its consecration is valid. But as it stands at present I regard it as a sad mutilation of the first Office of the Reformers." The Scottish Office is a great historical fact "in the annals of the doctrines of the Church of England", and contains a fuller expression of the truth than the English, and its preservation may prove "a providential engine for the restoration of unity to Christendom ", since the Scottish Liturgy possesses definite affinities with the Eastern Churches, which are lacking in the English. In a remarkable passage he declares that the future of the world lies with the Anglo-Saxon race, and that with the rapid increase of the Colonial and American episcopate the Archbishop of Canterbury may become in the next century "alterius orbis papa", as he was styled in the twelfth century ("Pope of another world"). Therefore let the Scottish Liturgy stand to bear witness to the independence of the Scottish province of the Anglican Communion, as the Liturgy of the American Church does for the people of the west. Curiously enough, the Bishop, like others of his time, does not attempt to show that the Scottish Liturgy is in the order of its parts a much better, richer, and more Scriptural form for the celebration of the Eucharist than the English; he is content to maintain that it is more primitive--a fact that makes little impression on the lay mind. The Charge, in spite of its somewhat old-fashioned exegesis of Scripture, is an extremely able and in many respects modern treatment of the subject. It was an attempt to express the doctrine of the Eucharist in the language of the time. Yet it discharged upon the Scottish Church a devastating strife, almost unexampled in its history, and well-nigh drove its author for refuge into the "security" which some of his former friends boasted was to be found only within the Church of Rome.


Immediately after the delivery of his Charge, Forbes went as usual abroad for his holiday, this time with Neale to the south of France. On returning in September he heard "rumours of certain individuals who were beginning to take exception" to the Charge. When he attended the Episcopal Synod at the end of September he was thunderstuck to hear a denunciation of the Charge from the lips of one of his brother-bishops, Trower of Glasgow. The Synod, however, had the sense to postpone discussion of the subject till its next meeting.

Writing to Mr. Gladstone on December 1, Forbes says: "You will be sorry to hear that the Bishop of Glasgow is likely to give me some trouble about my Primary Charge. A Denison case in Scotland is not desirable; but we must hope that the more the blessed truths of the Church are reverently discussed, the more they will commend themselves to the hearts and consciences of men." On December 11 Trower returned to the charge, in the double sense. Much is to be forgiven a rash and impulsive man who had little knowledge of theology, but that Trower should have been allowed to move then and there that a declaration on the doctrine of the Eucharist should be issued by the Synod condemning the teaching of Forbes would seem unbelievable if it were not true. Not only so; Trower was supported by two other bishops, Terrot of Edinburgh and Ewing of Argyll, both as innocent of theology as Trower, for Terrot was a mathematician and Ewing a "broad" churchman devoid of a university degree. The Synod, however, rejected the motion, though only by the casting vote of the Primus, an omen that boded ill for Forbes. The three bishops then proceeded to act on their own initiative, and published their declaration, oblivious of the plain fact that they had condemned out of hand a brother-bishop whose subsequent appeal for justice they would be obliged to hear as judges. The fact that the declaration made no reference to Forbes by name was no excuse, for every intelligent person would see that it was aimed directly at Forbes' Charge; some of the very words of Forbes were quoted, though without marks of quotation.

They denied its two principal contentions:--

(1) that the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a proper object of adoration;

(2) that the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Altar are substantially one.

On both points they appealed to the Thirty-nine Articles and nothing else.

These two negations throughout the two and a half years of controversy continued to be almost the only statements with which the "erroneous" teaching of Forbes was met, and, as the Bishop complained, it is as difficult to refute negations as it is to prove them.

Soon after this the Dean of Edinburgh (Ramsay) and nineteen clergy of this diocese sent an address to their Bishop, in which they expressed their full concurrence with the statements of the three bishops. This brought in the intervention of Keble, whose searching criticism of them might well have caused the bishops to pause.

What possessed them to adopt so rash and hasty an attitude? The answer is not in doubt. They were anxious that the Scottish Church should stand well with the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church of England and pursue their anti-Catholic policy, and they were afraid of their own laity. The latter, locked up as they were in a majority of their Presbyterian fellow-countrymen, were shy of a demonstrative type of church-manship and easily disturbed by anything that appeared new to them in worship or sacramental teaching. Headed by the Earl of Wemyss, a large number of them, mostly resident in the south of Scotland, signed a memorial to the bishops; in this document Bishop Forbes was mentioned for the first time by name. The Bishop on February 14 describes the position in the following letter:--


I think that it is right that you should know the terrible mess we are in on account of my charge. The synod ended by the bishops putting out five resolutions without naming me; but this naturally roused first the clergy of the Diocese of Edinburgh, and then, the laity generally. A memorial has been circulated among the laity, and been extensively signed, taking the strong Protestant line, and in fact, trying to concuss the bishops into action against me. I immediately wrote to Lord Wemyss, offering myself for trial, and published the letter; but this has not tended to stop the agitation, and the inflammatory document is being sent like the fiery cross through the different congregations.

The Bishop's letter to the Earl of Wemyss is as follows:--

February 6th, 1858.


I was informed yesterday by a gentleman to whom it had been sent for signature, that an address to the three of the Scottish Bishops was being circulated, to which your Lordship, among others, had thought fit to append your name. I requested to have it shewn me, but this was refused, a circumstance which I cannot quite reconcile with that candour and openness which should distinguish any religious movement whatsoever.

I however learn that the purport of the address was to thank the Bishops who have lately put forth a certain statement of their individual belief on the subject of the Holy Eucharist, and to condemn me by name for certain doctrines which I have enumerated in a Primary Charge which I lately delivered to the clergy of the Diocese of Brechin.

While every symptom of interest in the affairs of the suffering Episcopal Church of Scotland on the part of the laity cannot fail to be gratifying to me, I must respectfully take leave to doubt whether such persons as I understand have signed this Document, however considerable from their position, are likely from their mental bearing or habits of thought to be able to give any opinion entitled to weight upon such abstruse subjects as are treated in the Charge, and I think I have reason to complain of the manner in which this has been done, when there lies an actual remedy in the Code of Canons which regulate the conduct of the governors of the Church of which the memorialists are members.

By Canon XXXVI provision is made for the trial of any Bishop, Priest or Deacon, and any three or more respectable persons, lay or clerical members of the Scottish Episcopal Church, may take the initiative in proceedings against them.

I have not seen the form of your memorial, so I know not whether that document fulfils the requirements of the Canon. If so, there is no occasion for the application which has been made, since the delation of three is sufficient.

You may be sure, that I shall court the fullest and completest investigation of my doctrine before the proper tribunals. I have no wish to decline from the consequences of any act of mine nor to shrink from the ordeal of a fair trial. If my doctrine is not the Doctrine of the Church of Christ from the beginning, if it exceeds the wise latitude which the Anglican Church has ever allowed her children, I am quite prepared to take the consequences. I have the deepest conviction that what I have taught is the truth of God, and therefore I feel sure that eventually that truth will vindicate and assert its supremacy, even tho' at the cost of my personal comfort, and I confidently leave my cause in His Hands to whom for all my opinions I am responsible.

Commending you to the keeping of the Almighty, I remain,

Your faithful servant in Christ

Bishop of Brechin.

A little later the Bishop writes to Mr. Gladstone:--

I understand the Bishop of Glasgow is quite fanatical against me; the others are timid and very sorry for themselves. Hints at disruption and extensive Drummondizing have terrified them, and indeed, unless one was supported by the feeling that truth must precede peace, our prospects are sufficiently anxious. [Dr. Drummond, a priest in Edinburgh, was leader of a Low-Church schism.]

I have let you know these things, that you may consult with the Bishop of Oxford what should be done. I do not wish to seem a disturber of the peace of the Church, but I cannot retract, and I think that I should stick to my post so long as it is tenable. You will, I am sure, give us the benefit of your prayers.

On February 22 he writes again:--


I instructed Masters to send you the proof-sheets of the new edition of the Charge. Meanwhile, I got the enclosed from the Bishop of Glasgow with the demand for a speedy synod. I have merely acknowledged the receipt, and keep my own counsel; for my excellent brother of Glasgow has overreached himself by his move.

(1) The synod will never affirm two new articles of belief--or rather of disbelief.

(2) They can never ask me to criminate myself on a general charge, instead of putting forth definite propositions. I shall demand to be proceeded with according to Canon XXXVI, and I do not think they will venture on that.

(3) The attack on Mr. Bright (tutor of Trinity College, Glenalmond, afterwards Canon of Christ Church, Oxford) is most shameful. The knowledge was got from private information. The Bishop, at the end of a friendly letter about other things, made some remark about Mr. Keble's work on "Eucharistic Adoration". Mr. Bright, suspecting no evil, answered unreservedly and freely, when, to his surprise, he received a letter from the Bishop of Glasgow saying that he must move for his removal. Mr. Bright is a most holy and learned man; and I hope that the bishops will not put themselves in the wrong by rescinding his appointment.

I do not see my way to any preliminary judgment of the Charge by bishops or divines, but I thank you much for your suggestion about gaining time. I shall endeavour to act upon it. I owe you much apology for intruding upon you at this critical time. Do not think of answering till you are at leisure, and with many thanks for your kind interest, believe me, your very obliged and faithful


The manifesto of the laity accusing Forbes of heresy became public property, and attacks were hurled at Forbes from all sides: in the secular Press, in pamphlets, and in speeches. The "Drummondites" rushed into the fray with their "No Popery" cry, and carried into their schism a number of timid churchpeople. The six Scottish bishops were panic-stricken. To allay the tumult they sent out a pastoral letter dated May 27, 1858, to be circulated in Diocesan Synods; and in this document they repeated the negations of the three bishops along with some affirmations from the Prayer-book. Forbes protested once more against this step as ultra vires, and reminded the bishops that the Code of Canons provided the legal forms to be followed in a case of raise doctrine, upon which they would themselves be the sole judges. But they persisted, oblivious of the fact that they were condemning one of their number without a trial.

The dismissal of Bright from his post at Glenalmond, reported in February, was not carried out until August.

August 29th, 1858.


I think it is right that I should tell you that another blow has been struck at us. Mr. Bright has been deprived of the theological tutorship by the Warden, because he is supposed to have violated that neutrality in Church matters which a theological tutor should maintain! "What concord hath Christ with Belial?" You recollect that the Bishop of Glasgow, on the information of a private letter unsatisfactorily obtained, intended to have moved for his dismissal at the Synod which emitted the pastoral. The monstrosity of acting on such information being patent, the bishops threw the responsibility upon the Warden in terms of the appointment of the theological tutor. Dr. Hannah then tried to induce Mr. Bright to resign, as being for the good of the College; in short, that he was to sacrifice himself, and criminate himself at the same time. This Mr. Bright naturally enough refused to do, and so the Warden "reluctantly" severs the connection etc. Mr. Bright has always been cautious with the students; he has never unduly biassed them. He has taught them, not only uncontroversially, but as little positively on controverted subjects as his sense of truth would permit him, and he is dismissed. The real cause is sympathy with my Charge. I do not see how I can continue on the council of the college, and I know not what next case of Proscription is to be taken up.

I do not ask you for counsel, but I wish you to know what is going on.

Lady Harriett Forbes told me there was some chance of your being in Scotland. Is there any hope that I might shew you my churches?

Though the bishops themselves shrank from this step and threw the direct responsibility on the Warden, Dr. Hannah, it is clear that they were primarily to blame for the loss to the Scottish Church of one of the most distinguished scholars of the time. About the same time yet another of the friends of Forbes was placed on the rack. This was Patrick Cheyne, Rector of St. John's, Aberdeen, who in a course of Lent sermons had taken a line similar to, but slightly stronger than that of Forbes on the Eucharist. For this he was condemned by the Synod of Aberdeen, and on appeal to the Episcopal Synod was suspended from his office. These attacks on his friends cut the Bishop to the heart. It was hard enough to find himself the object of widespread suspicion and misrepresentation, but when he was struck at in the person of his friends, the blow was almost insupportable. Yet he firmly believed that good would come out of evil. "Truth", he says, "suffers more from being neglected than from being controverted. The individual may suffer but words or phrases which have been misunderstood will find their real signification."


At last, on October 3, 1859, the Bishop was formally presented to the Episcopal Synod for teaching doctrine "contrary and repugnant" to the formularies of the Church with regard to (i) the manner of the Eucharistic Presence, (2) the nature of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and (3) Eucharistic Adoration. The accuser was one of his own clergy, the Rev. William Henderson of Arbroath. It is sad to reflect that here also personal prejudice appears. Mr. Henderson had been a candidate for the Bishopric of Brechin when Forbes was all but unanimously elected. George Forbes used to comfort his brother by saying, "Henderson is just your moral hair-shirt, and the less you contrive to see of him the better. If my idea of the man be correct, the more he thinks he is annoying you the better pleased and the more persevering he will be." No doubt Mr. Henderson acted in good faith in coming forward as the accuser of his Bishop. Was he not simply following the lead of the six Scottish bishops and bringing to a head what was implicit in their informal condemnation of the teaching of Forbes? Bishop Ewing at this time in the interest of peace wrote to Mr. Gladstone, asking his opinion on the proceedings, etc. The reply must have given him a shock.

The proceedings (wrote the statesman) fill me with pain and even more than with pain, with shame. Never before in reading the history of the Church have I known a case in which so deep a question has been carried with such dispatch out of the region of that calm discussion which ripens and deepens opinion and lays foundations for dogma, into the region of definition and proscription and their accompanying passions. I hope and pray that the spirit of another Bishop Forbes, the illustrious author of the Considerationes) may yet compose the storm which your reverence's letter was intended to raise, and that the Episcopal Communion of Scotland may still enjoy the honour which has been awarded to it by the Almighty during the late controversies in a degree so much beyond that given to the Church of England, of keeping her children steadfast and safe amidst the many dangers that surround them, whether they proceed from Rome or from the darker and more deadly source of unbelief.

Bishop Trower resigned his office early in 1859, and Charles Wordsworth, Bishop of St. Andrews, assumed the role of champion of official Anglicanism in Scotland. Writing to Mr. Gladstone, Forbes briefly describes the position in the Episcopal College. "Bishop Wordsworth dominates over all the bishops and gets them to do whatever he wills at the moment." And again: "I hear such accounts of Wordsworth's bitter animosity, which has almost grown into fanaticism, of which the bent is, that he has an apostolate to put me and those who think with me down." It seemed as if nothing now could avert the scandal of a formal trial. Nevertheless, all his intimate friends urged Forbes to do something by way of explanation to satisfy the objections of the bishops. His brother went so far as to ask him to withdraw the Charge pro forma "for the sake of peace" and to "couple this with a declaration of your continued adhesion to the doctrines it inculcates". Mr. Gladstone begged him to explain some phrases on Transubstantiation and on the identity of the Sacrifice of the Eucharist and of the Cross. Keble, who was Forbes' chief adviser since the delivery of the Charge, also strove for a peaceful settlement. Pusey was ill and unable to render much assistance, but Keble kept him informed of the position. On December 1, Keble writes to Forbes as follows:--

Hursley Vicarage,


My heart aches about this negociation, for the Church and for you. I think it so great a pity that it should fail on a misunderstanding, when both parties are practically agreed. I say Practically, for as you on your part shew and profess that you are willing to tolerate interpretation short of your own, so they on their part by the act of proposing such a declaration as they have done, show that they think it right to tolerate yours: it will be inconsistent in them if ever hereafter they should sentence anyone simply for believing and teaching your interpretation. As you expressly bind yourself not to enforce the affirmative, so by implication they bind themselves not to enforce the negative. This is a great point gained: I am sure I should have been most thankful had the Denison matter come to so wise a result. At the same time I quite feel with Pusey that it would be dishonest, and would put all parties in a false position, if either of us, understanding the words of the proposed formula as we do, were to put our names to it without explanation. I think the proposed explanation, as now abridged by him, is quite sufficient. I may perhaps propose one or two slight changes in its wording, but in substance I don't know how to mend it. I am fully confident that here in England those even of our friends who do not sympathise with us in doctrine will say when they have come to hear of it that such an explanation ought to be accepted.

Would it not therefore be the right course to offer it once more, modified as you may think best? But if this fails, ought not something to be done, for Justice, Prudence, and Charity's sake, in the way of informing people how the matter really stands, that it may not be said and thought, as I fear it will be otherwise, that you and your advisers are wholly responsible for the evil going on?

I suppose it would never do for it to be announced that the Judges or any of them have been negociating with one of the parties: but I will mention what has come into my mind, tho' of course I may be showing my ignorance. Might not Mr. F. Irvine, or some other friend on your account, propose this formula to Mr. Henderson or some friend acting for him, in some such way as to secure the right of giving publicity to what passed, if you thought proper to publish it? I am sadly slow in thought and writing, or you would hear from me oftener about the Defence.

Yet I do hope to send at least a little more. I had hoped to have done so to-night, but I cannot. God give us Truth and Peace, and to love and pray for them.

Ever your affectionate


The united counsel of all these friends drew from Forbes a short explanatory statement in which he expresses regret "that the form in which his opinions were published had given occasion to misapprehension of his real meaning". He reaffirms his rejection of the Tridentine doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Lutheran doctrine of Consubstantiation. He repeats that he believes his teaching to be consistent with Scripture and the formularies of the Church, but he adds that he never claimed for it more than toleration, and that he never intended to require it as a condition of ordination or Communion. The statement ends with these words, "Distressing as it was to him that his right reverend brethren should deem it necessary to animadvert upon any statements of his, he has felt their expressed desire for the peace of the Church and for the maintenance of the primitive faith, a bond of union in purpose and object, which he trusts may be strengthened from day to day." Writing to thank Mr. Gladstone on December 27 for what he had done as mediator he is hopeful of peace: "Thanks to your potent mediation, my terms, with one verbal alteration have been accepted. The Primus (Bishop Eden) has behaved very well but I fear he is being concussed by the others. I have therefore hinted to him that, as I have made this great sacrifice of feeling, not to save myself but to give peace to the Church, I reserve for myself the power of retracting. We must hope for the best. I am truly obliged to you for all that you have done." But alas! his hopes were dashed, and four days later he writes to Mr. Gladstone: "Since I wrote to you, I have heard from the Primus, announcing the failure of his mediation. The trial must now take its course." What precisely brought to nothing all the efforts of Gladstone, Keble, Pusey for peace and led to the rejection of Forbes' self-effacing sacrifice we cannot tell, but there can be little doubt that the chief factor was the recalcitrancy of Bishop Wordsworth.

Forbes had already set about the task of preparing his defence, and had visited Hursley, as he says, "to avail myself of the learning and wise moderation of that holy man. It was great rest and peace in the midst of the strife of tongues."

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