Henry was born at Broad Oak, Iscoyd, a farmhouse on the borders of Flintshire and Shropshire, Wales, United Kingdom. His father, Philip Henry, was a Church of England cleric and had just been ejected under the Act of Uniformity 1662.
Matthew Henry's well-known six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1708–10) or Complete Commentary, provides an exhaustive verse by verse study of the Bible, covering the whole of the Old Testament, and the Gospels and Acts in the New Testament. After the author's death, the work was finished (Romans through Revelation) by thirteen other nonconformist ministers, partly based upon notes taken by Henry's hearers, and edited by George Burder and John Hughes in 1811.
Henry's commentaries are primarily exegetical, dealing with the scripture text as presented, with his prime intention being explanation, for practical and devotional purposes. While not being a work of textual research, for which Henry recommended Matthew Poole's Synopsis Criticorum, Henry's Exposition gives the result of a critical account of the original as of his time, with practical application. It was considered sensible and stylish, a commentary for devotional purposes.
Famous evangelical Protestant preachers such as George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon used and heartily commended the work, with Whitefield reading it through four times – the last time on his knees. Spurgeon stated, "Every minister ought to read it entirely and carefully through once at least." John Wesley wrote of Henry:
He is allowed by all competent judges, to have been a person of strong understanding, of various learning, of solid piety, and much experience in the ways of God. And his exposition is generally clear and intelligible, the thoughts being expressed in plain words: It is also found, agreeable to the tenor of scripture, and to the analogy of faith. It is frequently full, giving a sufficient explication of the passages which require explaining. It is in many parts deep, penetrating farther into the inspired writings than most other comments do. It does not entertain us with vain speculations, but is practical throughout: and usually spiritual too teaching us how to worship God, not in form only, but in spirit and in truth.
Henry's Miscellaneous Writings, including a Life of Mr. Philip Henry, The Communicant's Companion, Directions for Daily Communion with God, A Method for Prayer, A Scriptural Catechism, and numerous sermons, the life of his father, tracts, and biography of eminent Christians, together with the sermon on the author's death by William Tong were edited in 1809; and in 1830 a new edition included sermons not previously included and Philip Henry's "What Christ is made to believers". The collection was issued several times by different publishers.
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