Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tercentenary of Matthew Henry's Death

Today marks 300 years since the entering of Matthew Henry, the great minister and Biblical commentator, into glory, in the fifty-third year of his life on earth. On June 21, 1714, he was traveling from Chester to Hackney, England, when he showed symptoms of not quite being himself. During the trip, before reaching Tarporley, his horse stumbled at a hole in the road and threw him off. Apart from being wet, Henry had no particular complaints from the fall, but disregarded the wishes of his friends to stay at Tarporley, and instead pressed on to Nantwich, Cheshire, where he preached a sermon on Jer. 31.18 at the Presbyterian Meeting House on Pepper Street, which turned out to be his last sermon. Again, he did not seem as lively as usual during this sermon, and afterwards he dined, but then was persuaded to undergo some bloodletting for his health. After the procedure, fell asleep but was awoken by friends who were concerned about him, much to his displeasure. Later, he repaired to the home (now known as the Queen's Aid House, 41 High Street, an Elizabethan-era landmark) of the minister of the Meeting House, Joseph Mottershead, where before going to bed, he spoke of the preciousness of spiritual comforts in time of need, and "blessed God that he had those comforts." He said to those around him, "Pray for me for now I cannot pray for myself," and to his old friend Mr. Illidge in particular, "You have been used to take notice of the sayings of dying men: this is mine, -- That a life spent in the service of God, and communion with him, is the most comfortable and pleasant life that anyone can live in this world." It was a restless night for Henry, and finally around 5 am on Tuesday, June 22, 1714, he suffered an "apoplectic fit," and lay speechless until about 8 am, at which time, "he gently expired." 

Henry was buried at Trinity Church in Chester, mourned and eulogized by many, but through his many edifying writings, of him it may be said more than most, "he being dead yet speaketh" (Heb. 11.4).

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