Summary: When America won its freedom it did so - in part - because it had a secret weapon that even the King of England feared.
OPEN: 1776. That was the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. But did signing that declaration actually make America a free and independent nation? No. There was still a long, and costly conflict that needed to fought with THE superpower of the day.
• America only had rag tag army was poorly paid (if they were paid at all)
• They had few - if any – uniforms.
• Their weapons were often what they brought from home.
• If any cannons, they were those taken from the British.
• And the soldiers often had to survive without adequate food and shelter.
By contrast they faced one of the most feared armies in the world. British troops were the best trained and equipped of any army of the day. Other nations looked on to this conflict and doubted these colonial soldiers could ever succeed. Few doubted these “Freedom fighters” would prevail…
But they did!
And one of the reasons they prevailed was that they had a secret weapon.
A secret weapon so powerful that even King George feared it.
That secret weapon was a powerful brigade of soldiers that Britain referred to as the "Black Regiment." They were such a powerful force for the cause of freedom that, before the Revolution started, the British governor of Massachusetts made the statement that if this Black Regiment ever came out in force to support the Revolution England would lose.
So, what was this “Black Regiment”?
And what was it about them that made Britain fear it?
(Does Anybody Know Who They Were?)
The Black Regiment were the preachers throughout the Colonies
Their weapon was the Bible.
And their battlefield was the pulpit.
They were called the “Black” regiment because they wore black robes when they preached. (Some sources refer to them as the “Black Robed Regiment”)
It was their moral leadership and influence that enabled America to become a free and independent nation.
These preachers preached what they preached, because they believed that the very essence of Christian religion was the idea that liberty is a sacred gift from God and that the united Colonies of America had been chosen by God to guard the sacred lamp of liberty.
Thus, on the first anniversary of the Battle of Lexington, a preacher named Jonas Clark declared: “From this day will be dated the liberty of the world.”
Resistance to England became a sacred duty - to a people who were on the whole, highly a religious people. And they were led – in their resistance to the tyranny of England – by their preachers.
• It was a preacher named Jonathan Mayhew who observed that England imposed heavy taxes on the Colonies without allowing them to be represented in the Parliament. And so he coined the phrase that became a battle cry for the Revolutionaries: “No taxation without representation”
• It was a Presbyterian minister named John Witherspoon who preached on the similarities between the bondage of Israel in Egypt with the bondage the colonies suffered under England. You might know Witherspoon’s name – he was one of those who signed the Declaration of Independence.
• Samuel Cooper was a Congregational minister who actively preached on the Revolution to an audience that often included John Adams, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren and John Hancock.
• And then there was the preacher named Peter Muhlenberg. How many of you have ever seen the movie the “Patriot” with Mel Gibson? Muhlenberg was the preacher who served as the model for the preacher in that movie. One Sunday, he stood in his pulpit and preached from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and he concluded his sermon with these words:
"The Bible tells us there is a time for all things, and there is a time to preach and a time to pray… and there is a time to fight, and that time has come now. Now is the time to fight!"
At that point Muhlenberg stripped off his preaching robes to reveal a military uniform pulled a musket out from behind the pulpit and began leading men in battle. He at Valley Forge, as well as the battles of Brandywine, Germantown and was instrumental in leading the Colonial army to victory at Yorktown – the battle which effectively ended the war.
These were just 4 of the hundreds of preachers across the colonies who made up Black Regiment. And they helped lead America to become a Free and powerful nation.
These preachers had two basic messages:
1st - The King of England was a tyrant and opposing God’s will by oppressing them.
And 2nd - the only way to free themselves from this evil ruler was to appeal to God.
Thus, one of the constant themes from their pulpits was the same as our text this morning:
“… it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God…” 1 Peter 4:17