A NAME ON THE BILL OF RIGHTS
The Black Brigade or Black Regiment were the preachers, because they wore black robes. Black preachers, white preachers — they all wore black robes. And the British specifically blamed the preachers for the American Revolution. That's where the title "Black Regiment" came from.
The British hated what the preachers did. They hated what they had to say. They claimed if it hadn't been for the preachers, America would still be a happy British colony.
When the British came to America, they started decimating churches. They went to New York City where there were nineteen churches. They burned 10 to the ground. They went across Virginia burning churches. They went across New Jersey burning churches.
Let me tell you about one of those preachers. This was a preacher in Virginia in 1776. He pastored two churches in a little rural town. He was also a member of the legislature — John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg.
While in Williamsburg, the British came marching in town. No big deal, because we haven't signed the Declaration yet. We were still British colonies. But they started going in private homes, taking things - especially guns and ammunition. And so Patrick Henry said, no way. Patrick Henry got 5,000 farmers to go get 200 British soldiers and get all their stuff back.
Pastor Muhlenberg, who pastors on the other side of the state thinks, "My guys need to hear about this." So he jumps on a horseback and rides all the way back. He preaches a sermon Sunday morning, January 21st, 1776.
His side of the state doesn't know what's happening with the British. He's in the pulpit and he's in his black robe, his clerical robe. And he's preaching from Ecclesiastes 3, which says, "There is a time of peace and a time of war." When he read this, he said, "Brethren, this is no longer a time of peace. This is now a time of war." And he gave them a news flash of what was going on. And of course, they were all, “Oh, my! What do we do?”
Then, instead of doing what he always did — have a dismissal prayer, go to vestment room and disrobe, he started undressing right in front of the congregation. And much to their shock — when he took off his clerical robe, underneath, he was wearing the full dress uniform of an officer in the Continental Army. That scene was show in “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson.
The pastor then dismounted the pulpit, went to the back of the church and said, “We came here to practice our liberties. And if we don't get involved, we're going to lose our liberties. Now, who is going with me to defend them?” Three hundred men got up and met him at the back of the church.
But the pastor had a brother. Let me tell you about him. His brother is Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg who pastored up in New York City. And when Pastor Frederick in New York City heard what his brother Peter had done, he said, “Wrong! Wrong, Brother! You should have stayed in the pulpit. Church shouldn't get involved in this stuff.”
And that's what his brother believed until the British came marching into New York City in 1777 and threw him out of his church. And as he stood outside, they desecrated his church. And he has this epiphany and says, maybe I ought to get involved as well or I'm going to lose my liberties. So he decides to get involved. He actually ends up being the speaker of the House in Pennsylvania, helps write their original Constitution. And he is the first ever speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. There are only two signatures on the bottom of the Bill of Rights and one is his — the Rev. Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg.
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