EARLY AMERICAN HEATHENS – Part 5
Fredrick Augustus Muhlenberg
Near the bottom of Bill of Rights you will find the signature of Fredrick Augustus Muhlenberg. The other primary signature on that document is John Adams. Among his other achievements, Fredrick was our nation’s first Speaker of the House. Still, it is a name most Americans do not recognize but one that is important to the founding of our Nation.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV), “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
According to a biography written after his death; John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg was a minister, ordained as an Anglican, as was required by law at that time, but preached in two different churches in Woodstock, Virginia. He was also a member of the Virginia Legislature. He was aware that the British had begun capturing arms owned by the citizenry and the local armories. Some minor armed conflicts had already broken out between the Patriots and the British even though the Declaration had not been signed or delivered to the British.
In January of 1776, John returned home from his time in Williamsburg with the Legislature and returned to his pulpit. On January 21st, 1776, he preached a sermon based on Ecclesiastes chapter three. There is a time for everything, it is well known passage and for this preacher/legislature it was time to share with his church this passage. After he read verse eight, “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” (KJV), he took off his clerical robe and under it was the uniform of a Colonel in the Patriot militia. He then stated that this was the time for war and expounded upon why he believed it to be so. He also mentioned that they would be signing up recruits after church. One Hundred sixty-two men enlisted that day and on the next day he led about 300 men from that county to meet up with the Patriot army/militia. These men became the driving force of the 8th Virginia Regiment.
Shortly after John’s recruitment sermon he received a letter from his brother Fredrick, also a minister, from New York City. It stated that as a minister he did not believe John’s actions were correct. He was not against the cause of freedom but he was against a member of the clergy promoting such actions as enlistment. The two brothers agreed to disagree.
The 8th Virginia served throughout the Revolutionary War in a number of major battles and through that time John rose in rank because of his ability to understand tactics and lead men. At the end of the war he held the rank of Brigadier General.
Frederick’s thought of staying out of the war and keeping the war away from his pulpit came to an end when the British occupied New York in 1777. At which time he and his parishioners were driven from the church and it was desecrated and burnt by the British Army. Fredrick enlisted shortly thereafter.
Both brothers served the Patriots and after the war both spent time in Congress as a way to serve their Nation and hopefully head the new Nation in the right direction. Both brothers realized there was a time for everything and that meant there was a time for action.
Today it is said that about half of the eligible people vote. Some statics show that the “Evangelicals” (i.e. religious folks) have a lower turn out than average. Glance around at our Nation; its financial crisis is small in comparison to its spiritual and moral crisis. God impressed upon the hearts of the Muhlenberg brothers that it was time to stand up and be counted amongst the Patriots in forming a new Nation. Ask yourself what God is calling you to do or stand up for today to help preserve and strengthen your Nation.