The Black-Robed Regiment of the American Revolution

On April 19th, 1775, irreversible events were placed in motion as British regulars from Boston marched inland to seize a cache’ of arms and powder from Patriot stores in Concord. They were also under orders to arrest Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock who were staying overnight in Lexington. When Paul Revere set off on his famous ride, it was to the home of the Rev. Jonas Clark in Lexington that he rode. Patriot leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams were lodging (as they often did) with the Rev. Clark. After learning of the approaching British forces, Hancock and Adams turned to Pastor Clark and inquired of him whether the people were ready to fight. Clark unhesitatingly replied, “I have trained them for this very hour!” The Patriot “Minute Men” formed on Lexington Green with Rev. Clark at their head while Adams and Hancock took refuge in a nearby marsh. At sunrise the two sides opposed each other, a shot rang out, and eight Minute Men laid dead on the green. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “shot heard round the world”, the first shot fired for American independence.

As we pause next Friday to celebrate the birth of our beloved American Republic, perhaps we should stop to thank God for the most essential fighting force of the War for Independence, a force dubbed the “Black-Robed Regiment” by King George III. They were those liberty loving pastors so described for the common black clergyman’s attire and the army-sized influence they wielded. There would have never been a “shot heard round the world” at Lexington Green that April morning if there had not been the Word of God preached around the colonies in the years leading up The Revolution.

Most Americans are quite familiar with the Declaration of Independence. Few Americans are familiar with the “Declarers of Independence”, those noble and patriotic ministers of the Black-Robed Regiment who fanned the flames of liberty with the pages of Holy Writ. To them, the “Spirit of 1776” was the third person of the Trinity who sought to protect religious freedom through the founding of a new nation “conceived in liberty.” These faithful shepherds prepared their flocks to wage war against the wolves of tyranny and injustice through the use of the most powerful weapon available in the American armory, the pulpit. Their sword was the word of God. Their battle cry was, “No king but Jesus.”

The shot heard round the world was fired by powder made in Luther’s Wittenberg, bullet forged in Calvin’s Geneva, musket assembled in Puritan Boston, and aimed by the prayers and sermons of hundreds of churches of the Black-Robed Regiment. The fever of righteous resistance was contagious and was spread far and wide by the mouth of the local parson. Historian B.F. Morris wrote a summary of their character in his work of 1864, “The ministers of the Revolution were, like their Puritan predecessors, bold and fearless in the cause of their country. No class of men contributed more to carry forward the Revolution and to achieve our independence than did the ministers . . . By their prayers, patriotic sermons, and services [they] rendered the highest assistance to the civil government, the army, and the country.

So, as you are giving thanks to God for your food, your freedom, and your family, on the 4th of July, perhaps you might also thank the Lord for the uncompromising pastors of The Black-Robed Regiment of the American Revolution and their spiritual descendants in the pulpits of today.

Anderson Independent Mail – June 28th, AD 2014