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He was born at Broad Oak, Iscoyd, a farmhouse on the borders of Flintshire and Shropshire. His father, Philip Henry, had just been ejected under the Act of Uniformity 1662. 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. While in Chester, Henry founded the Presbyterian Chapel in Trinity Street. He moved again in 1712 to Mare Street, Hackney. Two years later (22 June 1714), he died suddenly of apoplexy at the Queen's Aid House (41 High Street) in Nantwich while on a journey from Chester to London.
Matthew Henry's well-known six-volume Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1708–1710) 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." 
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.
Several abbreviated editions of the Commentary were published in the twentieth century; more recently the Christian linguist and author of reference books, Martin H. Manser, edited a version in modern English: The New Matthew Henry Commentary: The Classic Work with Updated Language (Zondervan 2010).
Perhaps his best-known quotation is about the relationship between men and women, from the story of the creation of Eve, in the Book of Genesis:
"the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved."
In 1860 a memorial was erected in Chester to commemorate Matthew Henry. This consists of an obelisk designed by Thomas Harrison that incorporates a bronze medallion by Matthew Noble. The obelisk originally stood in the churchyard of St Bridget's Church, and was moved in the 1960s to stand on a roundabout opposite the entrance to Chester Castle.
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