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Blake Hart | Anchorage, Alaska
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Hillside Baptist Church
5200 O’Malley Rd
Anchorage, AK 99507
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The Black Robed Regiment: The Role of American Clergy in the American Revolution Pt. 2
THURSDAY, JULY 04, 2019
Posted by: Hillside Baptist Church | more..
540+ views | 40+ clicks
However, Christian ministers did not just teach the principles that led to independence, they also participated on the battlefield to secure that independence. One of the numerous examples is the Rev. Jonas Clark. When Paul Revere set off on his famous ride, it was to the home of the Rev. 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!”[10] One historian gives us a powerful picture of the scene that night, “There they found their pastor the [Rev. Clark] who had arrived before them. The roll was called and a hundred and fifty answered to their names . . . . The church, the pastor, and his congregation thus standing together in the dim light [awaiting the Redcoats], while the stars looked tranquilly down from the sky above them.”[11]

This pattern was common through the Revolution – as when the Rev. Thomas Reed marched to the defense of Philadelphia against British General Howe; the Rev. John Steele led American forces in attacking the British; the Rev. Isaac Lewis helped lead the resistance to the British landing at Norwalk, Connecticut; the Rev. Joseph Willard raised two full companies and then marched with them to battle; the Rev. James Latta, when many of his parishioners were drafted, joined with them as a common soldier; and the Rev. William Graham joined the military as a rifleman in order to encourage others in his parish to do the same. [12]

The British abused, killed, or imprisoned many other clergymen, who often suffered harsher treatment and more severe penalties than did ordinary imprisoned soldiers. But the British targeted not just ministers but also their churches. As a result, of the nineteen church buildings in New York City, ten were destroyed by the British, and most of the churches in Virginia suffered the same fate. [13] This pattern was repeated throughout many other parts of the country.

Truly, Christian ministers provided courageous leadership throughout the Revolution, and as briefly noted earlier, they had also been largely responsible for laying its intellectual foundation. To understand more of their influence, consider the Rev. John Wise. As early as 1687, the Rev. Wise was already teaching that “taxation without representation is tyranny,” the “consent of the governed” was the foundation of government, and that “every man must be acknowledged equal to every man.”[14] In 1772 with the Revolution on the horizon, two of Wise’s works were reprinted by leading patriots and the Sons of Liberty to refresh America’s understanding of the core Biblical principles of government.[15] The first printing sold so fast that a quick second reprint was quickly issued. Significantly, many of the specific points made by Wise in that work subsequently appeared four years later in the very language of the Declaration of Independence.

So many other examples could be cited of the role of American Clergy in the push for the Revolution and the establishment of the founding principles of the nation, but such would be too massive an endeavor for this venue. In short, history demonstrates that America’s elective governments, her educational system, and many other positive aspects of American life and culture were the product of Biblical-thinking Christian clergy and leaders. This was the Black Robed Regiment.

Footnotes

[10] Franklin Cole, They Preached Liberty (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1941), p. 34.

[11] Ibid.

[12] J. T. Headley, The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution (New York: Charles Scribner, 1864), p. 68-72.

[13] Daniel Dorchester, Christianity in the United States from the First Settlement Down to the Present Time (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1888), p. 266.

[14] “Top Ipswich Patriots by Thomas Franklin Waters & Mrs. Eunice Whitney Farley Felten,” Lord Family Album, 1927. http://www.bwlord.com/Ipswich/Waters/TwoPatriots/JohnWise.htm).

[15] Claude H. Van Tyne, The Causes of the War of Independence (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1922), Vol. I, p. 357.

Category:  Church History

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