He was born at Broad Oak, a farmhouse on the borders of Flintshire and Shropshire. His father, Philip Henry, had just been ejected by the Act of Uniformity. Unlike most of his fellow-sufferers, Philip possessed some private means, and was thus able to give his son a good education. Matthew went first to a school at Islington, and then to Gray's Inn. He soon gave up 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 (June 22, 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 Testament. After the author's death, 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 practical application, combined with the well-sustained flow of its racy English style, made it one of the best works of its type.
- ? Portions of this article were adapted from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica which is in the public domain.