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vi A DISSERTATION concerning the
immediately transferred the glory of the aftion to him who had
given that aid.
Had Oflian brought down gods, as often as Homer hath done, to
aflifl; his heroes, this poem had not confifted of elogiums on his
friends, but of hymns to thefe fuperior beings. To tliis day, thofe
that write in the Galic language feldom mention religion in their
profane poetry ; and when they profeffedly write of religion, they
never interlard with their compofitions, the adions of their heroes.
This cuftom alone, even though the religion of the Druids had not
been previoufly extinguilhed, may, in fome meafure, account for
Oflian's filence concerning the religion of his own times.
To fay, that a nation is void of all religion, is the lame thing
as to fav, that it does not confiil of people endued with reafon.
The traditions of their fiithers, and their own obfervations on the
works of nature, together with that fuperflition which is inherent
in the human frame, have, in all ages, raifed in the minds of men
fome idea of a fuperior being. — Hence it is, that in the darkeft
times, and amongft the moft barbarous nations, the very populace
themfelves had fome faint notion, at leaft, of a divinity. It would
be doing injuftice to Oflian, who, upon no occafion, fliews a narrow
mind, to think, that he had not opened his conceptions to that
primitive and greateft of all truths. But let Oflian's religion be
what it will, it is certain he had no knowledge of Chrifl:ianity, as
there is not the leall: allufion to it, or any of its rites, in his poems ;
which abfolutely fixes him to an cera prior to the introdufticn of
that religion. The perfecution begun by Diocleflan, in the year
'^o-^, is the moll: probable time in which the firft dawning of Chri-
ftianitv in the north of Britain can be fixed. — The humane and
mild charatlter of Conftantius Chlorus, who commanded then in

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