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Matthew Henry

1662-1714. Biblical expositor. Son of an evangelical Church of England minister, he was born shortly after his father had been ejected from his living as a result of the Act of Uniformity.* A studious boy, he dated his conversion in 1672. He studied at a Nonconformist academy in London, and then read law at Gray's Inn. He considered becoming an Episcopalian minister, but decided to be a Nonconformist and was privately ordained as a Presbyterian. His first pastorate was in Chester (1687-1712), followed by Hackney (1712-14). Greatly influenced by the Puritans, he made exposition of Scripture the central concern of his ministry. Beginning work at four or five o'clock each day, he aimed to use time to the full. In 1704 he began the seven-volume Commentary on the Bible for which he is remembered. He finished up to the end of Acts; ministerial friends completed the NT from his notes and writings. It set a style in detailed, often highly spiritualized, exposition of Scripture which has shaped evangelical ministry ever since; C.H. Spurgeon* acknowledged his debt to Henry; many others have neglected this courtesy. Critical textual problems were not within his purview. Suffice to say that he could write 190 words of comment, including a three-part sermon outline, on Genesis 26:34.