The Black Robed Regiment

As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow you: neither have I desired the woeful day;
you know: that which came out of my lips was right before you.
Be not a terror unto me: you are my hope in the day of evil.
Jer 17:16-17


If the freedom of speech is taken away
then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

George Washington

The famed Nineteenth Century revivalist Charles G. Finney had some powerful words for the Pastors of the day.

He said, “If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If the public press lacks moral discernment, 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 Christianity, 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.”

….I wish he were alive today….

“The Black Regiment”

Parson Rayphe, Bible, Deliverance, HealingOne of the most disturbing scenes from the movie “Patriot”, starring Mel Gibson, is the scene where Colonel William Tavington, whose character is based on Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton, herds the inhabitants of an entire town into the church’s building and burns it to the ground.

Modern reconstructionists would probably omit such acts of the British from American history.  They would likely attribute this scene to the degeneration of Hollywood for sensationalism and blood thirst. But the truth is, due to the British hatred of the American Pastors, this scene is based on more truth than fiction and from the perspective of the British, this hatred was well founded.

In his article “The Forgotten Holiday”, Tom Barrett states, “I do not consider it a stretch at all to say that were it not for the pastors and churches of colonial America, our land would be a British colony today.”

Colonial Pastors often wore black robes and those who preached loyalty to God were referred to by the British government as “The Black Robed Regiment” or “Black Regiment”.  The government recognized the inherent power in the Word of God.

The Black Robed Regiment led the way to freedom

It was the “Black Robed Regiment,” that provided the colonists with the moral authority and the theological acumen to resist the tyranny of the British parliament and king.  The royalist governor of Massachusetts sounded the warning, as early as 1760, saying that the movement for independence could not be stopped if the colonial ministers were to begin to labeling the crown’s activities as tyrannical.

In reply to the judge, one of the soldiers on trial for his part of the “Boston Massacre” prayed death on the colonial Pastors. Prime Minister Horace Walpole said, “Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson.” British troops purposely targeted churches, and used Christian churches and colleges as barracks and horse stables when occupying colonial towns.

Devotion only to God is the path to True Freedom

The Pastors of the American Colonies preached complete devotion to the God of the Bible and against humanist authoritarian rule. The Rev. Samuel West preached that it was just as evil to avoid opposing tyranny as it was to disobey righteous leaders. Citing Romans chapter 13, Rev. West pointed out that civil magistrates are “ministers of God” and therefore draw their authority from God’s law. He resounded that when the civil magistrate subverts the authority given by God it is the duty of lesser magistrates to resist them.

FirmFoundationTThe influence of the preaching of the “Black Regiment” was a decisive factor in the outcome of the American War for Independence.

But  the “Black Regiment” itself did not shirk from battle either. It was the Rev. Jonas Clark who called his congregation together on the Lexington Green that April morning of 1775.

Likewise it was the Rev. James Caldwell that has been quoted over the centuries for his cry of, “Now boys, give ’em Watts!”, after bringing the Watts Hymnals from his church to the battlefield to be used for paper wadding in the men’s muskets.

Also let’s remember the Lutheran minister John Muhlenberg, who became a general in Washington’s army, after he raised a regiment by preaching a sermon on Ecc. 3:1-8, declaring that, “…there is a time to fight, and that time has come now.” At the end of his sermon he shed his robe, revealing the uniform of a Virginia Colonel.

Christians led the way and fought the fight for freedom

The “Black Regiment” did their job so well that much of the American army was made up of Christians from the congregations of the “Black Regiment”. In fact, at the time of the surrender at Yorktown, all but one colonel in the Colonial Army were Presbyterian elders.

From the perspective of the British, their hatred toward the American church was not ill placed.  Because the “Black Robed Regiment” understood the Biblical principle of the separation of church and state, and the proper Biblical response of the church toward the state, the American republic was born.

The Christian seed of the American republic goes way back into antiquity; much, much farther than even the Black Robed Regiment.  But you can see that seed germinating in the War for Independence when after years of attempts to reconcile, the British government simply refused to share it’s thrown with God.

Today…  if…?

In the War for American Independence it was the Black Regiment Pastors that lead the way to the Godly principles that America fought for and was founded upon.

Today, if America is to survive, it will be our generation of the Black Robed Regiment that will lead the way. Will others step up to the plate? We hope so.

I’ll see you out in the field,
Parson Rayphe