Many Christians are familiar with Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. That work has continued to be a great help to Christians even as we approach the third centennial of its original publication. As his 1704 sermon ‘On Family Religion’ indicates, Matthew Henry was a strong proponent of the spiritual leadership of the male head of the household. This excerpt from volume I of The Complete Works of Matthew Henry (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, 1978) treats Bible reading and teaching in the family.
1. You must read the scriptures to your families, in a solemn manner, requiring their attendance on your reading, and their attention to it: and inquiring sometimes whether they understand what you read? I hope that there are none of you without Bibles in your houses… But what will it avail you to have Bibles in your houses, if you do not use them? to have the great things of God’s law and gospel written to you, if you count them a strange thing? You look daily into your shop-books, and perhaps converse much with the news-books, and shall your Bibles be thrown by as an almanac out of date? It is not now penal to read the scriptures in your families as it was in the dawning day of the reformation from popery, when there were those that were accused and prosecuted for reading in a certain heretical book called an English Bible… You have great encouragements to read the scripture; for notwithstanding the malicious endeavors of atheists to vilify the sacred things, the knowledge of the scriptures is still in reputation with all wise and good men. You have a variety of excellent helps to understand the scripture, and to improve your reading of it; so that if you or yours perish for lack of this knowledge, as you certainly will if you persist in the neglect of it, you may thank yourselves, the guilt will lie entirely at your own doors.