THE debate between Mr Magee and Miss Royden, held in the Church House last Friday, covered too much ground. The speeches were discursive, and irrelevant matter was introduced. There is some ground for regretting the decay of the old method of disputation. It was always hard and formal, seldom convincing; but it had the advantage of keeping disputants to one point at a time, and prevented them from excursions on ground where they would not even meet. Mr Magee propounded the vague thesis that “there are fundamental principles which forbid the admission of women to the priesthood.” It would have been better to state one fundamental principle — one being sufficient — and invite Miss Royden to dispose of it.
There is one such fundamental principle, and we doubt whether any other argument on the same side has much value. It is the principle that so great a change must not be made except by the common consent of the whole Church. Mr Magee arrived at this towards the end of his opening speech, but not before he had said many other things of far less importance to distract the attention of his hearers. There is no worse mistake in controversy than to mix strong arguments with weak; the weak do undermine the strong, because the use of them creates an impression that the user himself is uncertain of his ground. Holding Mr Magee’s conclusion to be true, we think it deplorable that he should have built on the stale argument that our Lord chose only men to be Apostles. . .
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