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agreement. When alleged facts are rare, extraordinary or supernatural, they are excluded from this classification; they must be established by testimony.
(3.) Truths of special experience. These depend upon conditions that are peculiar to certain states or surroundings. Christian experience, for. instance, reports as nothing else can, respecting the facts of conversion, regeneration and justification; a sanctified consciousness, likewise, reports correctly, and is the only reliable witness respecting the peace and triumphs of holiness. This same principle is thus stated by Plato : "To many minds there must come a moral improvement before they can receive intellectual enlightenment." See Acts xxvii. 1-23.
(4.) Truths of testimony. "It is by comparison of reasons and of experiences through testimony, that we reach conclusions of practical value." At the same time it should be observed that testimony, in itself, proves nothing. At most it simply shows the condition of a person's mind concerning that of which he offers his testimony. That condition of mind is the fact to be examined and weighed as evidence. Nevertheless, the credit given to history; information respecting persons, places and things, when there is no opportunity to make personal examinations; the rights and security looked for in courts of justice, together with social, financial and political confidence, all depend upon evidence of testimony.
The discount placed upon testimony is referred to two causes: The want of information on the part
of the narrator, also some motive influencing him to utter falsehood.
The force given to testimony depends upon the inherent credibility of the narration; the consistency of the attendant or involved circumstances; and the moral character, competency and number of the witnesses.
The following are also acknowledged principles in relation to testimony: The concurrence of several independent witnesses increases the weight of the evidence given by each; the points of agreement in otherwise conflicting testimony are regarded the most weighty sort of evidence; variation in minor matters increases the general probabilities that the testimony is correct; incidental testimony is usually regarded as of greater validity than direct, since it supposes clear knowledge and a vivid impression of the facts stated, and almost precludes the possibility of deliberate intention to deceive; written testimony found in ancient manuscripts is considered of greater weight than oral tradition relating to the · same events; the eye-witness, especially when there is a probability that his testimony will result in personal loss or injury, is the testifier most desired. See Acts iv. 20; xxvi. 26: 1 John i. 3. The student may test the foregoing principles by applying them to the records of the Resurrection of Christ. Compare Acts xxii. 1-21: 1 Cor. xv. 5-8.
(5.) Truths of experiment. Said a father to his son who was studying surveying, "You can't prove anything by book-learning." The boy replied, "I
will set two stakes in the pasture lot; you can go and measure their distance apart; I will stand where I am and give you the exact result in half the time you employ." The trial was made; the boy with the sextant was successful; the father was convinced.
The opinions of others cannot be changed by sheer force, however great that force; but the presentation of facts will accomplish complete, though silent changes. A doctrine or theory can be disputed and rejected; but a truth established by experiment is self-evident and needs no proof beyond the presentation of it. Experiment is often very important in testing supposed facts, and in eliciting new
3. Opinions. When expressed they are the testimonies of conscience, judgment, and other mental conditions or acts; hence they fall under the general subject of testimony.
4. Revealed or Bible truth. Prior to building an argument upon the Bible, it must either be admitted as authoritative or proved to be such. In the Christian pulpits its authority is usually admitted. When not admitted, it becomes necessary to establish the integrity of its text, its genuineness, its credibility, and its miraculous inspiration. The credibility of Bible truth is tested by comparing it with the facts of matter, of mind, and of the history of Providence. For examples where Bible authority is admitted, see Is. viii. 20: John vii. 42: Acts xviii. 28: Rom. iv. 3; xi. 2; where believed in from evidence, see John ii. 22: Acts xvii. 28. Method
of reasoning from the Scriptures, is illustrated in Rom. iv. and ix.
In dealing with facts in argumentation, the following directions are important:
1. "The first step in dealing with facts as evidence is to acquire a strong belief of the truth of the facts."
The rule of Descartes is stated thus: 66 Never admit the truth of anything without thorough conviction; that is, sedulously avoid precipitation or prepossession of judgment, and accept nothing as fact which does not recommend itself so clearly and distinctly to the mind that there can be no possible occasion to doubt." "Truth and falsehood have a superficial similarity," says the Persian adage; therefore there should often be rigid, even merciless inquisition in dealing with facts.
2. In estimating the force of evidence built upon facts, bear in mind that there are four degrees: the possible, the plausible, the probable, and the certain. Observe also that an argument takes the form of climax and becomes conclusive, when the evidence presented makes a subject appear possible, plausible, probable, and lastly, certain.
3. Observe also that the mere statement of a fact is not sufficient for the purposes of eloquence; the statement must be made with the purpose of convincing and persuading.
4. Other things being equal, select facts near at hand rather than those afar off.
5. Deal with worthy and grand facts, those which represent and illustrate worthy and grand ideas.
6. A general and natural order is to inquire what are the facts; why are they thus rather than otherwise; and what are the consequences involved.
From what has been said it is apparent that merit in argumentation rests upon :
1. The motives influencing the speaker.
2. The importance of the truths defended. 3. The selection and verification of proofs.
4. The arrangement of proofs in the argument. 5. The rhetorical and elocutionary presentation of the arguments.