Profiles In The Faith: Matthew Henry
In the 17th century, the Church of England forced Puritan pastors out of the pulpit of the established church. One of the two thousand pastors forced out was the father of Matthew Henry. A young Henry went to college to study law, but mid-semester changed his studies to answer God’s calling to preach. Henry would spend his life studying the Scriptures and guiding others to understand the deep truths of God’s Word.
The expulsion of Henry’s father by the Church of England would force Henry to be taught in the home. This would allow his father to invest deeply in him the things of God. By an early age, Henry was reading passages of Scripture, and from his own accounts gave his life to Christ before the age of eleven. Until he left for college, Henry’s father would continue to teach his sons the oracles of God through their education.
Upon graduating from college, Henry was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He would take a small church in the town of Chester, England, where he would faithfully preach God’s Word for twenty-two years. During his time there, Henry ministered to the people of Chester and started a ministry to the people of London. This zealous work led to him becoming ill, and eventually he died while on a preaching circuit in 1714.
Today, Henry’s influence far exceeds the small town of Chester and the outskirts of London. In 1704, he began working on his commentary of the Scriptures. This would be an extensive work that would last ten years, but would become one of the most helpful tools for studying the Bible. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible has found it’s way into almost every pastoral library and Bible teacher’s home. The books would also greatly influence the ministry of George Whitfield and Charles Wesley, who were born in the wake of Henry’s death.
Henry’s last work was the Directions for Daily Communion with God. Through all of his studies and all of his preaching, Henry found that man needs, more than anything, to walk with God. He looked around to see very few men knew Jesus in prayer and devotion. Thus, his last work and his last words would be a challenge to men to walk in intimate prayer and devotion before the Almighty.