Matthew Henry (1662-1714), English nonconformist divine, was born at Broad Oak, a farmhouse on the confines of Flintshire and Shropshire, on the 18th of October 1662. He was the son of Philip Henry, who had, two months earlier, been ejected by the Act of Uniformity. Unlike most of his fellow-sufferers, Philip Henry possessed some private means, and was thus enabled to give a good education to his son, who went first to a school at Islington, and then to Gray's Inn.
He soon relinquished his legal studies for theology, and in 1687 became minister of a Presbyterian congregation at Chester, removing in 1712 to Mare Street, Hackney. Two years later (22nd of June 1714), he died suddenly of apoplexy at Nantwich while on a journey from Chester to London. Henry's well-known Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1708-1710) is a commentary of a practical and devotional rather than of a critical kind, covering the whole of the Old Testament, and the Gospels and Acts in the New. Here it was broken off by the author's death, but the work was finished by a number of ministers, and edited by G. Burder and John Hughes in 1811. Of no value as criticism, its unfailing good sense, its discriminating thought, its high moral tone, its simple piety and its singular felicity of practical application, combine with the well-sustained flow of its [distinctive] English style to secure for it the foremost place among works of its class.
His 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, were edited in 1809 and in 1830. See biographies by W. Tong (1816), C. Chapman (1859), J. B. Williams (1828, new ed. 1865); and M. H. Lee's Diaries and Letters of Philip Henry (1883).
From The Encyclopædia Britannica. 11th ed. New York: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1910.
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