Gregory, Theodorus

, surnamed Thaumaturgus, was descended of parents eminent for their birth and fortune, at Neo-Cesarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia, where he was born. He was educated very carefully in the learning and religion of the Gentiles by his father, who was a warm, zealot; but, losing this parent at fourteen years of age, he, enlarging his inquiries, began by degrees to perceive the vanity of that religion in which he had been bred, and turned his inclinations to Christianity. Having laid the necessary ground-work of his education at home, and studied the law for some time, to which he had no great inclination, he resolved to accomplish himself by foreign travels, to which purpose he went first to Alexandria, then become famous by the Platonic school lately erected there*. Departing from Alexandria, he came back probably through Greece, and staid awhile at Athens whence returning home, he applied himself to his old study of the law but again growing weary of it, he turned to the more agreeable speculations of philosophy.

The fame of Origen, who at that time had opened a | school at Csesarea, in Palestine, and whose renown tid doubt was great at Alexandria, soon reached his ears. To that city therefore he betook himself, where meeting with Fermilian, a Cappaclocian gentleman, and afterwards bishop of Ca^area, in that country, he commenced a friendship with him, there being an extraordinary sympathy and agreement in their tempers and studies; and they jointly put themselves, together with his brother Athenodorus, under the tutorage of that celebrated master. Origen endeavoured to settle him in the full belief of Christianity, of which he had some insight before, and to ground him in the knowledge of the holy scriptures, as the best system of true wisdom and philosophy.

Neo-Caesarea was a large and populous place, but being miserably overgrown with superstition and idolatry, Christianity had as yet scarce made its entrance there. However, our young philosopher was appointed to be a guide of souls in the place of his nativity. Phredinius, bishop of Amasia, a neighbouring city in that province, cast his eye upon him for that purpose; and it was thought his relation to the place would more endear the employment tohim. But, upon receiving the tirst intimation of the design, he shifted his quarters, and, as oft as sought for, fled from one desert to another; so that the bishop by all his arts and industry could not obtain intelligence of him; he therefore constituted him bishop of the place in his absence, and how averse soever he seemed to be before, he now accepted the charge, when perhaps he had a more formal and solemn consecration. The province he entered upon was difficult; the city and neighbourhood being wholly addicted to the worship of demons, and there not being above seventeen Christians in those parts, so that he must find a church before he could govern it. The country was overrun with heresies; and himself, though accomplished sufficiently in human learning, was altogether unexercised in theological studies and the mysteries of religion. But here again he had immediate assistance from heaven; for, one night, as it is related by his biographer, Gregory of Nyssen, with the superstitious spirit then prevalent, while he was musingupon these things, and discussing matters of faith in his own mind, he bad a vJsJon, in which St. John the evangelist and the blessed virgin appeared in the chamber where he was, and discoursed before him concerning those points. In consequence, after | their departure, he immediately penned that canou and rule of faith which they had declared. To this creed he always kept himself, and bequeathed it as an inestimable deposit to his successors. The original, written with his own hand, we are informed, was preserved in that church in his name. It is cited by Dr. Waterland, as express and explicit respecting the doctrine of the Trinity. There can be no doubt of its authenticity, although the Socinians have taken much pains to prove the contrary.

Thus furnished, he began to apply himself more directly to the charge committed to him, and he was said to b^> endowed with the power of working miracles: hence the title of Thaurnaturgus, or wonder-worker, is constantly ascribed to him in the writings of the church. St Basil assures us, that upon this account the Gentiles used to call him a second Moses. In this faithful and successful government of his flock he continued quietly till about anno '2bO, when he fled from the Decian persecution; but, as soon as the storm was over, he returned to his charge, and in a general visitation of his diocese, established in every place anniversary festivals and solemnities in honour of the martyrs who had suffered in the late persecution. In the reign of Galienus, about the year 260, upon the irruption of the northern nations into the Roman empire, the Goths breaking into Pontus, Asia, and some parts of Greece, created such confusion, that a neighbouring bishop of those parts wrote to Gregory for advice what to do: our author’s answer, sent by Euphrasymus, is called his “Canonical Epistle,” still extant among his works. Not long afterwards was convened that synod at Antioch, wherein Paul of Samosata, bishop of the place, which he did not care to lose, made a feigned recantation of his heretical opinions. Our St. Gregory was among the chief persons in this synod which met in the year 264, but did not long survive it, dying either this or most probably the following year.

St. Basil says he was an evangelical man in his whole life. In his devotion he shewed the greatest reverence: yea and nay, were the usual measures of his communication. He was also a man of uncommon meekness and humility, and a firm adherent to truth. With respect to the miracles ascribed to him, they do not rest upon the authority of his contemporaries, and are more numerous and extraordinary than will now be readily credited. His works *vere primed in Greek and Latin, 1626, folio, and in the | library of the fathers. Gerard Vossius also printed a& edition at Mentz in 1604, 4to. Many of his writings, however, are supposed to be lost. 1

1

Cave. Mosheirn. Milner’s Church Hist. Douglas’s Criterion, p. 397. —Saxii Onomast.