The year is 1776. An imminent revolution looms against the British. Peter Muhlenberg addresses a large crowd, quoting Scripture saying,
“In the language of the Holy Writ, there was time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. There is a time to fight, and that time is coming!”
Marching to the rear of the building he rallied the men, asking,
“Who among you is with me?”
Three hundred men rose to their feet, ready to fight for liberty. Some might be surprised to know this dramatic scene played out in a Protestant Church service. No, Peter Muhlenberg wasn’t a lay person from the congregation, but the Pastor. His fiery sermon challenged the men of the Church to rise up against the tyranny of the British Crown. After quoting from the book of Ecclesiastes, he shrugged off his black robe. The congregation sat stunned, realizing their Pastor was wearing a military uniform. Hence, the Reverend Muhlenberg’s actions birthed the Black-Robed Regiment.
The British coined the name “Black-Robed Regiment” as they blamed these courageous Clergyman for American Independence. Modern historians write:
“There is not a right asserted in the Declaration of Independence which had not been discussed by the New England clergy before 1763.” (The New England Clergy and the American Revolution, by Alice M. Baldwin)
Founding Fathers also noted the significant role played by men who stood behind a pulpit. John Adams remarked,
“The pulpits have thundered.”
Godly men pounded their lecterns reminding their congregations from whence they came. Sermons stoked the fires of patriotism. Adams singled out several ministers…
“…Characters the most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential” in the “awakening and a revival of American principles and feelings” that led to American Independence. (The Works of John Adams)
Many colonial pastors admonished their congregations to prepare for revolt, and several ministers stepped from behind the pulpit and joined their congregants on the front lines. In 1898, Bishop Charles Galloway said,
“Mighty men they were, of iron nerve and strong hand and unblanched cheek and heart of flame. God needed not reeds shaken by the wind, not men clothed in soft raiment, but heroes of hardihood and lofty courage…And such were the sons of the mighty who responded to the Divine call.”
Today, America needs Clergymen to rise up once again. Many pastors shy away from social issues and political ideologies for fear of alienating members of their congregations or fearing unwanted attention from the ACLU. Pastors need not endorse candidates to counter the culture. Delivering pro-life messages or sermons on traditional marriage should be on the preaching agenda. Currently, our government and elected officials appear to be in a rush to pass legislation antithetical to the teachings of the Word of God. For the sake of our future generations, Pastors and Christian lay people need to commit themselves to righting America’s spiritual ship. Famed Reverend Charles Finney of the Second Great Awakening delivered the following admonition,
“Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the Church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren, but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”
May Christians Stand.