With Great Patience Under Affliction
Moses Roney was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, on the 20th of September, 1804. His parents were members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and were careful to train him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. At the age of fourteen, he entered a preparatory school, aiming at admission to Jefferson College, and later graduated from that College with highest honors in 1823. As with so many young men of that era who planned to enter the ministry, Moses taught school for a few years following his graduation from college. His ministerial preparations were under the tutelage of the Rev. Dr. James M. Willson, one of the more noted pastors and theologians of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in those early years. Without great delay, Moses was licensed to preach on June 8, 1829 and quickly came to be noted as as one of the more popular preachers in the RP Church. Serving as pulpit supply and preaching as opportunities arose, he finally answered a call to serve the RP church in Newburgh, New York, being ordained and installed as pastor on June 8, 1830.
In 1833, the Reformed Presbyterian Church was split over a controversy having to do with the Church’s doctrine concerning relations with the civil government. One of the defining convictions of the Reformed Presbyterians maintained that because Jesus Christ is clearly spoken of in Scripture as being the King of kings, Lord of lords, and sovereign over all nations, that therefore Reformed Presbyterians expected civil governments to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Some among the RP’s were giving way on that conviction, and thus the split in their Church. Moses Roney held to and defended the old ground and though still a young pastor, was among the more vocal adherents of the “Old Light” side of the controversy.
While his ministry showed great promise—his gifts and abilities garnering the added responsibility of editing the denominational magazine—Rev. Roney’s life was not long. In the spring of 1843, he was struck down by an inflammation of the lungs, followed later by related problems. His health never fully recovered, and while his remaining years were labored and heavy, he continued in faithful ministry as his strength allowed. Death came at last on July 3, 1854.
In one of the last letters he ever wrote, addressed to a close friend, Rev. Roney gave a good indication of how he approached his final days:—
“Very dear and highly esteemed friend: I have for months longed to communicate with you, but have been unable. In the expectation of friends, and in my own opinion, I was near the end of my earthly journey. It has pleased my Heavenly Father to give me a little respite, and I have been for a few days tolerably comfortable. I have no expectation that it will be of long continuance, but still it gives occasion for thankfulness to God, and is a ground of satisfaction. On two occasions I was really brought low; but though the Lord chastened me sorely, He did not give me over to death. My prayer is that, while I live, I may call on Him who is my only support and my only portion. I trust that, by His grace, “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Oh that I may find the presence of the Good Shepherd when I come to enter the dark valley. My only trust is in the righteousness of Christ. My dependence is on the aid of the Holy Spirit. Oh, my friend, pray for me and that I may die in a triumphant faith. Mrs. Roney is much fatigued from want of rest, etc. Still she and the children are mercifully kept in health. Give my warmest love and what may perhaps be my last farewell, to [your wife] and all the family. My kind remembrance to all inquiring friends.
With love and esteem, I remain affectionately and truly yours,
Words to Live By:
One great advantage to reading Christian biography is what it can teach us about dying in the Lord. Though not discussed much at all these days, you will find a frequent concern in older biographies about “dying well”—dying in such a way as to bring glory and honor to our Lord. For if in our living we should live to His glory, shouldn’t we also die to His glory as well?
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”—Psalm 116:15, KJV.