Arthur Dent was the learned and pious minister of South Soubery in Essex, but persecuted by Bishop Aylmer for nonconformity. About the year 1581, he endured many troubles from this prelate, for refusing to wear the surplice, and omitting the sign of the cross in baptism.5 He afterwards united with his brethren, the persecuted ministers of Essex, in presenting a petition to the lords of the council, in which, say they, " We have received the
• Wood's Athene Oxon. vol. i. p. 8SI.—Nichols's Hist, of Leicestershire, vol. li. p. 390.
t Life of Mr. Smith. * Church Hittorv, b. I(. p. 142.
^ MS. Rrjl.ier, p. 741.
charge to instruct and teach our people in the way of life; and every one of us hearing this sounded from the God of heaven, Woe be unto me, if I preach not the gospel, we have all endeavoured to discharge our duties, and to approve ourselves both to God and man. Notwithstanding this, wc arc in great heaviness, and some of us already put to silence, and the rest living in fear; not that we have been, or can be charged, we hope, with false doctrine, or slanderous life: but because we refuse to subscribe that there is nothing contained in the Book of Common Prayer contrary to the word of God. We. do protest in the sight of God, who eearcheth all hearts, that we do not refuse from a desire to dissent, or from any sinister affection; but in the fear of God, and from the necessity of conscience." A circumstantial account of this petition, signed by twenty-seven ministers, is given in another place.*
Mr. Dent was author of a work, entitled " The Ruine of Rome; or, an Exposition of Revelation;" in the dedication of which, Mr. Ezekiel Culverwell gives the following account of the author:—" To give some public testimony of my love towards him, and reverence of the rare grace which we all, who enjoyed his sweet society, did continually behold in him, whose learning his labours do shew; and whose diligence, yea extreme and unwearied pains in his ministry, publicly, privately, at home and abroad, for at least four and twenty years, all our country can testify. All which being adorned with such special humility, do make his name the greater, and our loss the more grievous. I may not leave out this, which I avow to be as certain as it is singular, that, besides nil others his great labours, he had a special care of all the churches, night and day, by study and fervent prayer, procuring the prosperity of Zion, and the ruin of Rome. And to end with his blessed end: his life was not more profitable to others than his death was peaceable to himself; scarcely a groan was heard, though his fever must needs have been violent which dispatched him in three days. Having made a pithy confession of his faith, «this faith,' said he,4 have I preached ; this faith have I believed in; this faith I do die in; and this faith would I have scaled with my blood, if God had so thought good; and tell my brethren so.' He afterwards said,4 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid
* See Art. George afford.
up for me the crown of righteousness ;* and with his last breath added, 4 I have seen an end of all perfection, but thy law is exceeding broad.'" He died most probably some time after the year 1600.