Do you understand that freedom isn’t free, and it’s something that must always be guarded, because someone will always want to take it from us. Like for those who have gone before us (many, our own family), we are now faced with a heightened threat of losing what freedoms we still may enjoy.
With that in mind, I’m going to write about men not normally thought of as founding fathers. These men preached God, family and freedom from their pulpits for years, with great passion and conviction. They lead by example, with strength, courage, conviction and principles. They understood, very well, that our rights are from God, and it was our responsibility to know and defend them. These men became known as “The Black Robed Regiment.” They gained this moniker from British soldiers who came in contact with them, or who had heard of the fierce passion with which they preached freedom from over-reaching authority figures.
So much of standing for God and freedom was present in their sermons that it’s said upward of 60% (+/-) of our founding documents (The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution for the united states of America), stemmed from sermons these men gave and from conversations they had with others within their communities. Especially influential in that realm was Pastor John Wise, who was preaching on this in 1710, as was Jonathan Mayhew some 15-20 years later. They certainly were not the only ones, but history remembers these men as staunch supporters of faith in God and supporters of freedom.
Pastors during the 1700’s were the front line. They knew they’d be the targets, should British soldiers make their way into their communities, and they weren’t inclined to fall for often controversial, Romans 13 defense. They knew Romans 13 had to be based on a moral and Godly foundation, and they knew this because within that very passage, the Apostle Paul says that authority cannot be against what is good; instead, supporting what is bad. There is righteousness, and a moral authority, to stand against evil and tyranny, which always brings heavy oppression of the people. They knew it, lived it, and taught others the same.
On the morning of January 21, 1776, Pastor John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, of Woodstock Virginia, was preaching from the book of Ecclesiastes. Specifically, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. As the story goes, upon conclusion of this passage, when he got to the line, "a time for war and a time for peace," he took off his black robe, which was the tradition for clergy of that time, and revealed a uniform. To the surprise of many, he was not only a Pastor, but also a Colonel with the 8th Virginia Regiment, tapped by George Washington to lead, and lead he did!
He preached God, family and freedom - standing for, and preaching about, freedom, not tyranny and compliance to any “king” - other than Christ Jesus, and certainly not to other men who presumed authority where they had none. He trained men of the community, preparing them, not only spiritually, but also literally, with the ability to defend their families, homes, and communities.
This was no small investment, or passive involvement for Pastor Muhlenberg. He put his words and commitment where his mouth was, serving for approximately 8 years, ending his military career as a Major General, moving on to serve in other statesmen-like capacities.
There were many other men of the cloth that stood for God, family, and freedom as well. Paster James Caldwell, of Elizabethtomwn, NJ, is another. So impassioned, and committed to the cause, was Pastor Caldwell, that he became known as “The Fighting Chaplain.” As I mentioned, these men knew they, and their families, would be targets, and that was true for Pastor Caldwell. His wife was killed by British soldiers.
During one of the many battles, they were running short on paper to pack with their gun powder, so Pastor Caldwell dashed to a local church building, took hymnals, and began tearing the pages out, to use as wadding. A man by the name of Issac Watts was the composer of most hymnals at that time, and it’s said that, as Pastor Caldwell was tearing out the pages, he told his men, “Give ‘em Watts, boys! Give ‘em Watts!” Hence, the now famous line, “Give ‘em what for!” (A bit of Revolutionary trivia for you)
Two other clergymen associated with the Black Robed Regiment were Pastor Jonas Clark, and Decon John Parker. They were in the Lexington and Concord area, and on April 18, 1775, Pastor Clark was hosting Samuel Adams and John Hancock in his home, as Paul Revere (and others) were making their infamous ride, informing everyone that the British were coming. Revere stopped at the home of Pastor Clark, and when the men heard the news, Samuel Adams asked the pastor if he was ready - if his men were ready - to which he replied, not only were they ready, but they had trained for a time such as this, and could be ready in a moments notice. From that encounter, the term “minuteman” was born.
The next day, April 19th, the battles of Lexington and Concord ensued, and like the other pastors of the Black Robed Regiment, Pastor Clark and Decon Parker, who was also a Captain in the army, put their actions where their mouths were. As the British approached and demanded the colonials put down their weapons, the response from the Pastor was something to the effect of --- Ummm, no. Ok, it was more eloquent than that, but that was the gist of it. The colonial’s attitude was not one of desiring a war, but if war was inevitable, let it begin with them. Decon (Captain) Parker told his troops to hold and not fire ……. and then it happened ……. the 1st shot rang out, and it became known as “the shot heard around the world.”
These brave Pastors did not preach, or teach, to tamely submit to slave-like ordinances. They knew, and taught, that our spiritual and civil liberties were inseparably connected, and as such, it was (is) our duty to know, claim and defend our God-given rights. They also knew that, sometimes, it takes good men to break the laws made by bad men (or women). Again, reflecting back to Romans 13 and the foundational understanding that “authorities” must have a moral and Godly foundation, not be of, or support, that which is lawless or evil.
No wonder Thomas Paine wrote, in 1776, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
The men of The Black Robed Regiment were not fearless. They believed, completely, they were doing what was ordained by God - that it was their duty to stand for faith, freedom, and family. They believed it so strongly that their faith superseded their fears. They put their faith into action. They stood up, stepped out, and did something - in a big way. They put their lives on the line. Some survived; many did not, and as Scripture tells us, there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for a friend. (John 15:13)
It’s not that they were without fear, but rather, their faith was so strong, it allowed for them to have courage. It allowed for them to choose freedom over tyranny and the oppression that comes with it. Their faith allowed for them to choose bravery over obedience - an obedience to other men’s presumed authority over them. They knew God to be the ultimate authority, and as Jesus tells us, in Matthew 28, he has all authority in the heavens and on the earth. Just like the men of the Black Robed Regiment, in today’s words, Jesus would be considered a rebel.
All this said, and for all the generations that actually did stand up, what happened? How did we end up here, in a world full of division, conflict and deception?! Why do we find ourselves in what could be referred to as our generation’s 1776 moment? Well, just as in generations that have gone before us, we’ve become too beguiled by the dark side. We’ve stepped out of alignment with our Creator, to varying digress. We compromise here, we compromise there, and the next thing you know - it’s the Babylonian system, all over again.
The question now is, how will we deal with it? Will we turn our heads, live in cognitive dissonance, and allow for criminal men (and women) to rule over us? Will we continue to support a system that promotes compromising, and taking a knee, to evil? Will we continue to allow our parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors to be suppressed, muzzled and experimented upon? Will we continue to allow the subjugation of countess humans, world-wide, in an attempt to appease those who have presumed authority over us?! One of God's greatest gifts to humanity is free-will. We choose, and life creates, based on the collective choices we make. Can we reach, and teach, enough people to shift the tide of blind compliance and tyranny?
God is watching and waiting. Choose wisely.