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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 13

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 13.—The Hearer Must Be Moved as Well as Instructed.

29.  But for the sake of those who are so fastidious that they do not care for truth unless it is put in the form of a pleasing discourse, no small place has been assigned in p. 584 eloquence to the art of pleasing.  And yet even this is not enough for those stubborn-minded men who both understand and are pleased with the teacher’s discourse, without deriving any profit from it.  For what does it profit a man that he both confesses the truth and praises the eloquence, if he does not yield his consent, when it is only for the sake of securing his consent that the speaker in urging the truth gives careful attention to what he says?  If the truths taught are such that to believe or to know them is enough, to give one’s assent implies nothing more than to confess that they are true.  When, however, the truth taught is one that must be carried into practice, and that is taught for the very purpose of being practiced, it is useless to be persuaded of the truth of what is said, it is useless to be pleased with the manner in which it is said, if it be not so learnt as to be practiced.  The eloquent divine, then, when he is urging a practical truth, must not only teach so as to give instruction, and please so as to keep up the attention, but he must also sway the mind so as to subdue the will.  For if a man be not moved by the force of truth, though it is demonstrated to his own confession, and clothed in beauty of style, nothing remains but to subdue him by the power of eloquence.

Next: Chapter 14

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