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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Reverend John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg

John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg

One of the Black Robed Regiment

John Peter Mulenberg was the son of Pennsylvania Lutheran minister Henry Muhlenberg. Though not an avid student, John went on to be a successful clergyman, soldier, and statesman.

After dropping out of college in Pennsylvania, he went with his brothers to study at the University of Halle in Germany. His father, considered as the Patriarch of the Lutheran Church of America, hoped John would choose the ministry; however, John’s advisors encouraged him to pursue commerce. For three years he endured a miserable apprenticeship with a merchant, before finally deciding to follow his childhood aspirations of joining the military. He joined the Royal American Regiment of Foot in the British army.  In 1767 he returned to Philadelphia and was honorably discharged.

John Peter Muhlenberg began theology studies and was licensed as a Lutheran minister in 1769. He started in ministry by assisting his father in New Jersey. He married the following year and received a call to minister to a church in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. As the established church in Virginia was Anglican, he needed to first travel to England for ordination as an Anglican minister. He served that Lutheran church in Woodstock, Virginia from 1772-1775.

During his years in Virginia he became an admirer of Patrick Henry and began participating in the patriot cause. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Virginia Provincial Convention. What the Rev. Muhlenberg will probably be best known for was a sermon he is said to have delivered to his church January 21st, 1776, as reported in a biography by his great nephew.

The text of his sermon was from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace,
        and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Muhlenberg stated, “And this is a time of war.” He then removed his clerical garb to reveal his Colonel’s uniform beneath it. His congregation and community must have been stirred by his word and actions because within a half hour 162 men enrolled, and the next day three hundred men from the county gathered to form the beginning of the 8th Virginia Regiment.
This statue of  Muhlenberg was given to
The National Statuary Hall by
Pennsylvania in 1889

"Brethren, we came to this country to practice our religious liberties, and if we don't get involved, we're going to lose them."   
John Peter Muhlenberg, (1777)

Muhlenberg fought at Charleston, Brandywine, Stony Point and Yorktown. When the war was over, he no longer felt he could return to the ministry. Eventually he returned to Pennsylvania and went on to serve as a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, Lieutenant-Governor of Pennsylvania, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shortly after being elected to serve in the Senate he resigned to take a job for the newly formed U.S. Customs Service.  Muhlenberg died in 1807 and is buried in Trappe, Pennsylvania.


“When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”  Deuteronomy 20:1-4

4 comments:

  1. Great history lesson! Is that where the famous song came from, his sermon? What an inspiration he obviously was.

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    1. I do not know about a famous song related to his sermon. I was so inspired by his courage and motivational speaking. Thanks for stopping by, Susan.

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  2. Janet, this is such a fantastic true life story. I'm so glad you shared it. I learned about him when I was researching for my novella 'Tis the Season in Mistletoe Memories. The Old Stone Church in Long (German) Valley, NJ was his home for a short time, I believe, and it was the church his father started. I actually referenced him in the story. Couldn't resist giving a wee bit of that history. It also reminds me of that scene from The Patriot, helping me visualize it.

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  3. I wondered if the scene in the Patriot was taken from this. Thanks, Carla, for your comments.

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