Gems from Henry on Genesis 1

As I’ve noted previously, I am taking up Spurgeon’s recommendation for ministers to read through Matthew Henry’s commentaries. Thus far, I have not been disappointed. Henry’s explanation of the text is certainly valuable, but his nuggets of application are where he really shines. Below is a sampling of some of those gems taken from his comments on the first chapter of Genesis.

There are phenomena in nature which cannot be solved, secrets which cannot be accounted for. But from what we see of heaven and earth we may easily enough infer the eternal power and Godhead of the great Creator, and my furnish ourselves with abundant matter for his praises. And let our make and place, as men, remind us of our duty as Christians, which is always to keep heaven in our eye and the earth under our feet.

p. 2

If all is of him, all must be to him.

p. 3

To those who have their hearts in heaven this lower world, in comparison with that upper, still appears to be nothing but confusion and emptiness. There is no true beauty to be seen, no satisfying fulness to be enjoyed, in this earth, but in God only.

p. 3

Learn hence, That God is not only the author of all being, but the fountain of life and spring of motion. Dead matter would be for ever dead if he did not quicken it. And this makes it credible to us that God should raise the dead. That power which brought such a world as this out of confusion, emptiness, and darkness, at the beginning of time, can, at the end of time, bring our vile bodies out of the grave, though it is a land of darkness itself, and without any order (Job x. 22), and can make them glorious bodies.

pp. 3-4

God has thus divided time between light and darkness, because he would daily remind us that this is a world of mixtures and changes. In heaven there is perfect and perpetual light, and no darkness at all; in hell, utter darkness, and no gleam of light. In that world between these two there is a great gulf fixed; but, in this world, they are counterchanged, and we pass daily from one to like vicissitudes in the providence of God, peace and trouble, joy and sorrow, and may set the one over-against the other, accommodating ourselves to both as do to the light and darkness, bidding both welcome, and making the best of both.

p. 4

This was not only the first day of the world, but the first day of the week. I observe it to the honour of that day, because the new world began on the first day of the week likewise, in the resurrection of Christ, as the light of the world, early in the morning. In him the dayspring form on high has visited the world; and happy are we, for ever happy, if that day-star arise in our hearts.

p. 5

The earth, it seems, was in being before; but it was of no use, because it was under water. Thus many of God’s gifts are received in vain, because they are buried; make them to appear, and they become serviceable.

p. 6

The lights of heaven do not shine for themselves, nor for the world of spirits above, who need them not; but they shine for us, for our pleasure and advantage. Lord, what is man, that he should be thus regarded!

p. 7

The moon is a less light, and yet is here reckoned one of the greater lights, because though, in regard to its magnitude and borrowed light, it is inferior to many of the stars, yet, by virtue of its office, as ruler of the night, and in respect of its usefulness to the earth, it is more excellent that they. Those are most valuable that are most serviceable; and those are the greater lights, not that have the best gifts, but that humbly and faithfully do the most good with them. Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, Matt. xx. 26.

p. 8

As he has the government of the inferior creatures, he is, as it were, God’s representative, or viceroy, upon earth; they are not capable of fearing and serving God, therefore God has appointed them to fear and serve man.

p. 10

He that feeds the birds will not starve his babes.

p. 11

When we have finished a day’s work, and are entering upon the rest of the night, we should commune with our own hearts about what we have been doing that day; so likewise when we have finished a week’s work, and are entering upon the sabbath-rest, we should thus prepare to meet our God; and when we are finishing our life’s work, and are entering upon our rest in the grave, that is a time to bring to remembrance, that we may die repenting, and so take leave of it.

p. 12

And now, as God reviewed his work, let us review our meditations upon it, and we shall find them very lame and defective, and our praises low and flat; let us therefore stir up ourselves, and all that is within us, to worship him that made the heaven, earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters, according to the tenour of the everlasting gospel, which is preached to every nation, Rev. xiv. 6, 7. All his works in all places of his dominion, do bless him; and, therefore, bless thou the Lord, O my soul!

p. 12

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