Pristine Grace

The Dark Ages
by Charles Spurgeon
The Dark Ages

    In 325, Emperor Constantine, for reasons of state craft and subtle policy, made Christianity the national religion, and thus struck the most fearful blow at the vitals of Christianity. The union of church and state is a fatal blow to true religion. The king's hand wherever it falls upon the church of Christ brings the king's evil with it. There never was a church whose spirituality survived it yet, and there never will be.

    Christ's kingdom is not of this world, and if we try to marry the church of Christ to a worldly kingdom, we engender innumerable mischiefs.

    So it happened that when the church became outwardly glorious she became spiritually debased. Her communion table glittered with gold and silver plate, but her communion with Christ was not so golden as before. Her ministers were enriched, but their doctrine was impoverished. For every ounce of outward gold which she gained, she lost a treasure of grace. Her bishops became lords, and her flocks were famished. Her humble meeting-places were exchanged for grand basilicas, but the true glory was departed.

    She became like the heathen around her, and began to set up the images of her saints, until at last, after years of gradual declension, the Church of Rome ceased to be the church of Christ, and that which was once nominally the church of Christ actually became the Antichrist.

    Black darkness covered the lands, and the dark ages set in. Instead of pardon bought with the blood of Jesus, false priests made merchandise of souls, and pardons were hawked in the streets. Instead of deacons and elders adorned with holiness and purity; monks, and nuns, and priests, and even popes became monsters of filthiness. Instead of justification by faith, men proclaimed justification by pilgrimages and by penances. The crucifix took the place of Christ Jesus, and a piece of bread was lifted up as a god, and men bowed before it, and said, "These be your gods, O Israel, that redeemed you from the wrath to come."