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are very ready to come in as seconds, to succeed and finish the dispute of opinions. Then noise and clamour and folly appear in their shapes, and chase reason and truth out of sight.
How unhappy is the case of frail and wretched mankind, in this dark or dusky state of strong passion, and glimmering reason! How ready are we, when our passions are engaged in the dispute, to consider more what loads of nonsense and reproach we can lay upon our opponent, than what reason and truth require in the controversy itself. Dismal are the consequences mankind are too often involved in by this evil principle; it is this common and dangerous practice that carries the heart aside from all that is fair and honest in our search after truth, or the propagation of it in the world. One would wish from one's
soul that none of the Christian fathers had been guilty of such follies as these.
But St Jerome fairly confesses this evil principle in his apology for himself to Pammachius, that he had not so much regarded what was exactly to be spoken in the controversy he had in hand, as what was fit to lay a load on Jovinian. And indeed I fear this was the vile custom of many of the writers even in the church affairs of those times. But it will be a double scandal upon us in our more enlightened age,
if we will allow ourselves in a conduct so crimi. nal and dishonest. Happy souls, who keep such a sacred dominion over their inferior and animal powers, and all the influences of pride and secular interest, that the sensitive tumults, or these vicious influences, never rise to disturb the superior and better operations of the reasoning mind!
XIV. THESE general directions are necessary, or at least useful in all debates whatsoever, whether they arise in occasional conversation, or are appointed at any certain time or place; whether they are managed with or without any formal rules to govern them. But there are three sorts of disputation in which there are some forms and orders observed, and which are distinguished by these three names,
viz. Socratic, Forensic, and Academic, i. e. the disputes of the schools.
Concerning each of these it may not be improper to discourse a little, and give a few particular directions or re. mark about them.
C H AP. XI.
I. Tuis method of dispute derives its name from Socrates, by whom it was practised, and by other philosophers in his age, long before Aristotle invented the particular forms of syllogism in mood and figure, which are now used in scholastic disputations.
II. The Socratical way is managed by questions and answers in such a manner as this, viz. If I would lead a person into the belief of a heaven and a hell, or a future state of rewards and punishments, I might begin in some such manner of inquiry, and suppose the most obvious and easy an
Quest. Does not God govern the world?
Q: What is the true notion of a good and righteous governor?
A. That he punishes the wicked, and rewards the good. Q: Are the good always rewarded in this life?
A. No surely, før many virtuous men are miserable here, and greatly afflicted.
2: Are the wicked always punished in this life?
A. No certainly, for many of them live without sorrow, and some of the vilest of men are often raised to great riches and honour.
Q: Wherein then doth God make it appear that he is good and righteous ?
A. I own there is but little appearance of it on earth.
Q: Will there not be a time then when the tables shall be turned, and the scene of things changed, since God governs mankind righteously?
A. Doubtless there must be a proper time, wherein God will make that goodness and that righteousness to appear.
Q. If this be not before their death, how can it be done?
A. I can think of no other way but by supposing man to have some existence after this life.
Q: Are you not convinced then that there must be a state of reward and punishment after death?
A. Yes surely, I now see plainly that the goodness and righteousness of God, as governor of the world, necessarily require it.
III. Now the advantages of this method are very considerable.
1. It represents the form of a dialogue or common conversation, which is a much more easy, more pleasant, and a more sprightly way of instruction, and more fit to excite the attention, and sharpen the penetration of the learner, than solitary reading, or silent attention to a lecture. Man, being a sociable creature, delights more in conversation, and learns better this way, if it could always be wisely and happily practised.
2. This method hath something very obliging in it, and carries a very humble and condescending air, when he that instructs seems to be the inquirer, and seeks information from him who learns.
3. It leads the learner into the knowledge of truth as it were by his own invention, which is a very pleasing thing to human nature; and by questions pertinently and artificially proposed, it does as effectually draw him on to discover his own mistakes, which he is much more easily persuaded to relinquish when he seems to have discovered them himself.
4. It is managed in a great measure in the form of the most easy reasoning, always arising from something asserted
or known in the foregoing answer, and so proceeding to inquire something unknown in the following question, which again makes
for the next answer. Now such an exercise is very alluring and entertaining to the understanding, while its own reasoning powers are all along employed, and that without labour or difficulty, because the querist finds out and proposes all the intermediate ideas or middle terms.
IV. THERE is a method very near a-kin to this, which has much obtained of late, viz. writing controversies by questions only, or confirming or refuting any position, or persuading to or dehorting from any practice, by the mere proposal of queries. The answer to them is supposed to be so plain and so necessary, that they are not expressed, because the query itself carries a convincing argument in it, and seems to determine what the answer must be.
V. Ii Christian catechisms could be framed in the manner of a Socratical dispute by question and answer, it would wonderfully enlighten the minds of children, and it would improve their intellectual and reasoning powers, at the same time that it leads them into the knowledge of religion : and it is upon one account well suited to the capacity of children; for the questions may be pretty numerous, and the querist must not proceed too swiftly towards the determination of his point proposed, that he may with more ease, with brighter evidence, and with surer success, draw the learner on to assent to those principles step by step, from whence the final conclusion will naturally arise. The only inconvenience would be this, that if children were to reason out all their way entirely into the knowledge of every part of their religion, it would draw common catechisms into too large a volume for their leisure, attention, or memory.
Yet those who explain their catechisms to them may, by due application and forethought, instruct them in this manner.
Of Forensic Disputes.
I. The Forum was a public place in Rome where lawyers and orators made their speeches before the proper judge in matters of property, or in criminal cases, to accuse or excuse, to complain or defend : thence all sorts of disputations in public assemblies, or courts of justice, where several persons make their distinct speeches for or against any person or thing whatsoever, but more especially in civil matters, may come under the name of forensic disputes.
II. This is practised not only in the courts of judicature, where a single person sits to judge of the truth or goodness of any cause, and to determine according to the weight of reasons on either side, but it is used also in political senates or parliaments, ecclesiastical synods, and assemblies of various kinds.
In these assemblies generally one person is chosen chairman or moderator, not to give a determination to the con. troversy, but chiefly to keep the several speakers to the rules of order and decency in their conduct; but the final determination of the questions arises from the majority of opi. nions or votes in the assembly, according as they are or ought to be swayed by the superior weight of reason appearing in the several speeches that are made.
III. The method of proceeding is usually in some such form as this. The first person who speaks, when the court is set, opens the case either more briefly or at large, and proposes the case to the judge or the chairman, or moderator of the assembly, and gives his own reasons for his opinion in the case proposed.
IV. This person is succeeded by one, or perhaps two or several more, who paraphrase on the same subject, and argue on the same side of the question ; they confirm what the first has spoken, and urge new reasons to enforce the same: then those who are of a different opinion stand up and make