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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 2

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 2.—It is Lawful for a Christian Teacher to Use the Art of Rhetoric.

3.  Now, the art of rhetoric being available for the enforcing either of truth or falsehood, who will dare to say that truth in the person of its defenders is to take its stand unarmed against falsehood?  For example, that those who are trying to persuade men of what is false are to know how to introduce their subject, so as to put the hearer into a friendly, or attentive, or teachable frame of mind, while the defenders of the truth shall be ignorant of that art?  That the former are to tell their falsehoods briefly, clearly, and plausibly, while the latter shall tell the truth in such a way that it is tedious to listen to, hard to understand, and, in fine, not easy to believe it?  That the former are to oppose the truth and defend falshood with sophistical arguments, while the latter shall be unable either to defend what it true, or to refute what is false?  That the former, while imbuing the minds of their hearers with erroneous opinions, are by their power of speech to awe, to melt, to enliven, and to rouse them, while the latter shall in defence of the truth be sluggish, and frigid, and somnolent?  Who is such a fool as to think this wisdom?  Since, then, the faculty of eloquence is available for both sides, and is of very great service in the enforcing either of wrong or right, why do not good men study to engage it on the side of truth, when bad men use it to obtain the triumph of wicked and worthless causes, and to further injustice and error?

Next: Chapter 3

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