Closing Out the Old Year and Greeting the New
Matthew Henry was the father of a family, pastor of a church, and author of forty-five books and pamphlets, besides the Commentary, and he lived only fifty-two years. On December 31,1701, at the age of thirty-eight, he wrote in his journal (in part):
“Believing prayer to be an instituted way of communion with God, and fetching in mercy and grace from Him, I have comfort in it daily; my daily prayers are the sweetest of my daily comforts. Having of late had my body feasted above the ordinary meals, I desire this day to have my soul fed more plentifully with the duty of prayer. My errands to the throne of grace today are,
“1. By way of lamentation and humiliation.
“I have reason to lament greatly the strength of my own corruptions, and weakness of my graces. I am still full of vain thoughts, and empty of good thoughts; many of my secret prayers are wretchedly disfigured and spoiled by a multitude of distractions and diversions of mind.
“I have lost a great deal of precious time. Sins easily beset me, and I do not the things that I would.
“I have very much reason to bewail my manifold defects in my ministerial work, my coldness in prayer, that I speak not of the things of God with more clearness and concern.
“I bewail the little success of my ministry, and the miscarriages of some this year, for hereby my God will humble me.
“The low condition of the church of God ought to be greatly lamented, the protestant interest small, very small; a decay of piety; attempts for reformation ineffectual. Help, Lord!
“2. By way of prayer and supplication. I have many errands at the throne of grace this day.
“The pardon of sin, victory over my corruptions and temptations, mortifying of my lusts, which go not forth but by prayer and fasting,
“The increase of my ministerial gifts, a sound judgment, a clear expression, a door of utterance, readiness in the Scriptures.
“The success of my ministerial labours, that sinners may be converted, saints built up, and the congregation flourish.
“The blessing of God upon my wife and children, that God will give His grace to my dear little ones and drive out the foolishness bound up in their hearts.
“My other dear relations I would recommend to God’s protection and blessing in prayer; my friends, acquaintance, brethren in the ministry.”
On New Years Day, 1702
“The covenant of grace being a new covenant, because ever new and often to be renewed, I have, this new year’s day, early in the morning, while it is yet dark, solemnly renewed it upon my knees.…
“Humbly acknowledging my dependence upon God, as my Creator and the Author of my being, my obligations in duty to Him as my Sovereign Lord and Ruler, and my engagements in gratitude to Him as my Protector and Benefactor, and mentioning, with thankfulness, the many mercies of my life hitherto, and particularly those of the year past....For all which I praise His name, and for the mediation of Jesus Christ, to which I owe all.
“Acknowledging, also, and lamenting the remaining strength of my corruptions, and my bent to backslide from the living God, taking to myself the shame of my many defects and follies, notwithstanding my frequent renewing of my covenant with God, and flying to Christ for righteousness, pardon, and peace.
“I once more bind my soul with a bond to be the Lord’s wholly, and only, and forever His. Into Thy hands, O God, I commit my spirit, to be ruled, cleansed, and sanctified throughout, qualified for Thy service in this world, and for the fruition of Thee in the other.
“My body I present unto Thee a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, for it is my reasonable service. My ministry I devote to Thy honour, and the continuance and success of it I submit to Thy will. All my worldly comforts I lay at Thy feet, to be disposed of as Thou pleasest. My life itself is Thine; O God of my life, ‘my times are in Thy hand.’
“Whatever may be the events of this year, let divine grace be sufficient for me, to enable me to accommodate myself to the will of God in them; and then nothing can come amiss. Amen. Hallelujah.”