Edward Dering was born about 1540. He was from a respectable and religious family in Kent. After school he went to Cambridge and was admitted into Christ’s College where he became a famous preacher. He was content with his Fellowship in the college and never sought after titles or preferments. He finished only a Bachelor of Divinity course.
He was made preacher at St. Paul’s Church in London. He worked at this post with great zeal and literally wore himself with his labors there and fell deathly ill. This was in 1576. When friends came to visit him, he said, “The good Lord pardon my great negligence, that, whilst I had time, I used not His precious gifts to the advancement of His glory as I might have done. Yet I bless God withal that I have not abused these gifts to ambition and vain studies. When I am once dead, my enemies shall be reconciled to me, except they be such as either knew me not, or have no sense of goodness in them; for I have faithfully and with a good conscience served the Lord my God.”
A minister standing nearby said to him, “It is a great happiness to you, that you die in peace, and are thereby free from those troubles which many of your brethren are like to meet with.” To which Dering replied, “If God hath decreed that I shall sup together with the saints in heaven, why do I not go to them? But if there be any doubt or hesitation resting upon my spirit, the Lord will reveal the truth to me.” After lying quietly for a while, one of the guests who had come to visit him said something to the effect that he hoped Dering was engaged in holy meditation while he lay there quietly. To whom Dering replied, “Poor wretch, and miserable man that I am, the least of all saints, and the greatest of sinners! Yet by the eye of faith I believe in and look upon Christ my Saviour. Yet a little while, and we shall see our hope. The end of the world is come upon us, and we shall quickly receive the end of our hope which we have so much looked for. Afflictions, diseases, sickness, grief, are nothing but part of that portion which God hath allotted to us in this world. It’s not enough to begin for a little while, except we persevere in the fear of the Lord all the days of our lives; for in a moment we shall be taken away. Take heed therefore that you do not make a pastime of not disesteem the word of God. Blessed are they that, whilst they have tongues, use them to God’s glory.”
As he neared death, some of his friends asked him to say something to their edification and comfort. Upon being propped up in bed, he said, “There is but one sun in the world, nor but one righteousness, one communion of saints. If I were the most excellent of all creatures in the world; if I were equal in righteousness to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; yet I had reason to confess myself to be a sinner, and that I could expect no salvation but in the righteousness of Jesus Christ: for we all stand in need of the grave of God. As for my death, I bless God I feel, and find so much inward joy and comfort to my soul, that if I were put to my choice whether to die or live, I would a thousand times rather chose death than life, if it will stand with the holy will of God.” Having thus spoken, he died.