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ter into the enquiry how many of the laws of Moses are abroga. ted, or whether Zeno was right or wrong in his philosophy ; yet if from the principles and concession of your opponent, you can support your argument for the gospel of Christ, this has been always counted a fair treatment of an adversary, and it is called Argumentum ad hominem, or Ratio ex concessis. St. Paul sometimes makes use of this sort of disputation, when he talks with Jews or Heathen philosophers; and at least he silences if not convinces them : which is sometimes necessary to be done against an obstinate and clamorous adversary, that just honour night be paid to truths which he knew were divine, and that the only true doctrine of salvation might be confirmed aod propagated among sioful and dying men.
XIII. Yet great care must be taken lest your debates break in upon your passions, and awaken them to take part in the controversy. When the opponent pushes hard, and gives just and mortal wounds to our own opinion, our passions are very apt to feel the strokes, and to rise in resentment and defence. Self is so miugled with the sentiments which we have chosen, and has such à tender feeling of all opposition which is made to them, that personal brawls are very ready to come in as seconds, to succeed and finish the dispute of opinions. Then noise and clamour and folly appear in all their shapes, and clase 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 rea800 ? 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 tbis 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 very 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 Pamınachius, 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 criminal 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 picious 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 ; whe. ther they are managed with or without any formal rules to govern them. But there are three sorts of disputation, in wbich there are some forms and orders observed, and wbich are distinguished by these three names, viz. Socratic, Forensic, and Academic, that is, 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 remarks about them.
CHAP. XI.-The Socratical Way of Disputation.
I. THIS 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 is now used in scholastic dis. putations.
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 or hell, or a future state of rewards and punishments, I might begin in some such manner of enquiry, and suppose the most obvious and easy answers.
Q. 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.
A. No surely, for many virtuous men are miserable here, and greatly afflicted.
Q. 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 dot 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 righteouspess 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 enquirer, 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 buwan pature ; and by questions pertinently and artificially proposed, it does as effectually draw hiin 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 ineasure in the form of the most easy reasoning, always arising from something asserted or kpown in the foregoing answer, and so proceeding to enquire something unknown in the following question, which again makes way 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 anower must be.
V. If Christian catechisms could be framed in the inanner 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 determioation 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 wbence 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 applicationand forethought, instruct them in this manner.
CHAP. XII.-Of Forensic Disputes. 1. 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, wbere 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 controversy, 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 opinions 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 enfore the same; then those who are of a different opinion, stand up and make their scveral speeches in a succession, opposing the cause which others have maintained, giving their reusons against it, and endeavouring to refute the arguments whereby the first speakers have supported it.
V. After this, one and another rises up to make their replies to vindicate or to condemn, to establish or to confute what has been offered before on each side of the question ; till at last, according to the rules, orders, and customs of the court or assembly, the controversy is decided, either by a single judge or the suffrage of the assembly.
VI. Where the question or matter in debate consists of several parts, after it is once opened by the first or second speaker, sometimes those who follow take each of them a particular part of the debate, according to their inclination or their prior agreemient, and apply themselves to argue upon that single point only, that so the whole complexion of the debate may not be thrown into confusion by the variety of subjects, if every speaker should handle all the subjects of debate.
VII. Before the final sentence or determination is given, it is usual to have the reasons and arguments which have been offered on both sides, summed up and represented in a more compendious manner; and this is done either by the appointed judge of the court, or the chairman, or soine noted person in the assembly, that so judgment may proceed upon the fullest survey of the whole subject, that as far as possible in human affairs nothing may be done contrary to truth or justice.
VIII. As this is a practice in which multitudes of gentlemen, besides those of the learned professions, may be engaged at least in their maturer years of life, so it would be a very proper and useful thing to introduce this custom into our academies, viz. to propose cases, and let the students debate them in a forensic manner in the presence of their tutors. There was something of this kind practised by the Roman youth in their schools, in order to train them up for orators, both in the forum and in the senate. Perhaps Juvenal gives some hiots of it when he says,