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Rev John Beach – the Consequences of Sour Discourse

June 9, 2014

“… if, instead of offering their Reasons of our Opinions with Meekness, and speaking the Truth in Love, we use the most provoking and insulting Language we can invent, and rake every Dunghill to find Scandal to fling at our Adversaries, and care not whether it be true or false, so it be but spiteful and disgraceful, if instead of rectifying their Mistakes we try to blast the Reputation of those who differ from us, and represent them as hateful and ridiculous, as Men of no Conscience or Reason, and strain their Expressions to such an ill Sense as was never intended; though this kind of managing Controversy may make Sport for Fools, yet it must needs do a World of Mischief by souring Men’s Tempers, and propagating Malice and Ill-Nature, which is the very Temper of the Devils; and so making Men much more the Children of Hell, than they would be, if they did remain ignorant of the Truth in Contest.”

(from A Continuation of the Calm and Dispassionate Vindication of the Professors of the Church of England, against the Abusive Misrepresentations and fallacious Argumentations of Mr. Noah Hobart [Boston, 1751], as cited by Howard Mumford Jones, in ‘American Prose Style: 1700-1770,’ [1934] in Ideas in America [Cambridge MA, 1945])

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