15. Tillemont
A Vindication by Edward Gibbon

As I could not readily procure the works of Gregory of Nyssa, I borrowed (71) from the accurate and indefatigable Tillemont, a passage in the Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, or the Wonder-worker, which affirmed that when the Saint took possession of his Episcopal See, he found only SEVENTEEN Christians in the city of Neo-Caesarea, and the adjacent country, "Les environs, la Campagne, le pays d'alentour." (Mem. Eccles. Tom. iv. p. 677. 691. Edit. Brusselles, 1706). These expressions of Tillemont, to whom I explicitly acknowledged my obligation, appeared synonymous to the word Diocese, the whole territory intrusted to the pastoral care of the Wonder-worker, and I added the epithet of extensive; because I was apprised that Neo-Caesarea was the capital of the Polemoniac Pontus, and that the whole kingdom of Pontus, which stretched above five hundred miles along the coast of the Euxine, was divided between sixteen or seventeen Bishops. (See the Geographia Ecclesiastica of Charles de St. Paul, and Lucas Holstenius, p. 249, 250, 251.) Thus far I may not be thought to have deserved any censure; but the omission of the subsequent part of the same passage, which imports that at his death the Wonder-worker left no more than seventeen Pagans, may seem to wear a partial and suspicious aspect.

Let me therefore first observe, as some evidence of an impartial disposition, that I easily admitted, as the cool observation of the philosophic Lucian, the angry and interested complaint of the false prophet Alexander, that Pontus was filled with Christians. This complaint was made under the reigns of Marcus or of Commodus, with whom the impostor so admirably exposed by Lucian was contemporary: and I had contented myself with remarking that the numbers of Christians must have been very unequally distributed in the several parts of Pontus, since the diocese of Neo-Caesarea contained, above sixty years afterwards, only seventeen Christians. Such was the inconsiderable flock which Gregory began to feed about the year two hundred and forty, and the real or fabulous conversions ascribed to that Wonder-working Bishop during a reign of thirty years, are totally foreign to the state of Christianity in the preceding century. This obvious reflection may serve to answer the objection of Mr. Davis, (72) and of another adversary, (73) who on this occasion is more liberal than Mr. Davis of those harsh epithets so familiar to the tribe of Polemics.

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