Chapter XXV.—Principles on Which the Discussion Should Be Conducted.
“For some, in the contest of disputations, when they perceive that their error is confuted, immediately begin, for the sake of making good their retreat, to create a disturbance, and to stir up strifes, that it may not be manifest to all that they are defeated; and therefore I frequently entreat that the investigation of the matter in dispute may be conducted with all patience and quietness, so that if perchance anything seem to be not rightly spoken, it may be allowed to go back over it, and explain it more distinctly. For sometimes a thing may be spoken in one way and heard in another, while it is either advanced too obscurely, or not attended to with sufficient care; and on this account I desire that our conversation should be conducted patiently, so that neither should the one snatch it away from the other, nor should the unseasonable speech of one contradicting interrupt the speech of the other; and that we should not cherish the desire of finding fault, but that we should be allowed, as I have said, to go over again what has not been clearly enough spoken, that by fairest examination the knowledge of the truth may become clearer. For we ought to know, that if any one is conquered by the truth, it is not he that is conquered, but the ignorance which is in him, which is the worst of all demons; so that he who can drive it out receives the palm of salvation. For it is our purpose to benefit the hearers, not that we may conquer badly, but that we may be well conquered for the acknowledgment of the truth. For if our speech be actuated by the desire of seeking the truth, even although we shall speak anything imperfectly through human frailty, God in His unspeakable goodness will fill up secretly in the understandings of the hearers those things that are lacking. For He is righteous; and according to the purpose of every one, He enables some to find easily what they seek, while to others He renders even that obscure which is before their eyes. Since, then, the way of God is the way of peace, let us with peace seek the things which are Gods. If any one has anything to advance in answer to this, let him do so; but if there is no one who wishes to answer, I shall begin to speak, and I myself shall bring forward what another may object to me, and shall refute it.”