Philip Henry was the revered father of Matthew Henry, the well-known Bible commentator
An Exposition upon the First 11 Chapters of Genesis
“And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh.”
Three things are to be observed in this speech:
1. God’s resolution not always to strive with man by his Spirit. My Spirit has striven a great while; it shall strive yet a little longer; but it shall not strive always. The Holy Spirit is a striving Spirit with the children of men; striving them away from sin, and to bring them to God; striving by the checks of their own consciences, but the ministry of the Word, by the rebukes of Providence; striving by one fair warning after another to reclaim the sinner. Have not we ourselves experienced these strivings?—something within us that has whispered in an hour of temptation, “Do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates?” ‘Twill be our wisdom to hearken to such whispers, and to close with them, striving against sin. Heb 12:4. If the Spirit of God be resisted in its strivings, and quenched in its motions, though it may strive long, yet it will not strive always. ‘Tis a principle with men not to be always persuading those with whom they cannot prevail; neither will the blessed Spirit do so. If Ephraim be joined to idols, is it not a righteous thing with God to say, Strive no more with him, let him alone? Hosea 4:17. What guest will stay long there where he is not welcome? Is it not wisdom then to improve these strivings while we have them?
2. The reason of that resolution: For that he also is flesh; carnal, earthly, sensual, corrupted, depraved, defiled; and therefore ‘tis to no purpose to strive with him; ‘tis but labor lost. It is as good to go about to change the Ethiopian’s skin or the leopard’s spots, as to reclaim and reform these impenitent sinners. Flesh, in scripture, is frequently opposed to spirit. It is the corrupt nature that renders the strivings of the blessed Spirit ineffectual. ‘Tis the law in the members that wars against the law of the mind. Rom. 7:23. The flesh and the spirit are sworn enemies one to another, and between them there is a constant conflict. Gal. 5:17. Now where the flesh, the carnal part, is so far suffered to prevail, as that the man may be denominated flesh, there the Spirit will not always, will not long strive. Those therefore that would enjoy the Spirit’s strivings, must curb and restrain, and not gratify and encourage, the corrupt motions and carnal desires of the flesh and of the mind. Eph. 2:3.
3. A reprieve granted notwithstanding: Yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years; so long will I bear with him yet, to see if he will return and repent, but no longer. Hitherto in this verse justice had spoken. Justice said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man. Justice said, He also is flesh; a corrupt, wicked, provoking creature; O let me cut him down. Then, in steps mercy; methinks somewhat like the dresser in the parable: Luke 13:8: Lord, let it alone this year also. So says mercy here: Lord, let this sinful world alone this six score years also, till all ways and means and methods are tried for reclaiming; and if in that time they repent, and amend, and bring forth fruit, well; but if not then after that you shall cut it down. And for this reprieve, mercy did prevail. His days shall be a hundred and twenty years. So much time they shall have to turn them in, so much space given to repent, but no more. Note. The patience of God with provoking sinners is,
(1) Sometimes long. Many times He bears a great while; his patience is stretched out even unto long-suffering; it is day after day, year after year, before ruin comes. This will one day render sinners the more inexcusable; it will greatly aggravate their condemnation. Every sand in the glass of Divine patience now, will be a drop in the vials of Divine justice shortly. Though sometimes God takes vengeance on sinners in the very act of sin; though sentence against an evil work is sometimes executed speedily; yet not always. Eccl. 8:11.
We see the contrary daily. But though the patience of God is oftentimes very long, yet,
(2) It is always limited. A hundred and twenty years, though it was a long time, yet it was a limited time. We often find that the mercy of God is called everlasting mercy; and there are those in heaven that will be to eternity the monuments of it. But we never read that his patience is everlasting patience. No: that is bounded by the limits of this life; and though there are many monuments of it in time, eternity will produce none. The year of the fig tree’s reprieve had an end. Though God bear long, He will not always, with provoking sinners. Reprieves are not pardons.
“And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.”
The gospel call now is much like this call of God to Noah. The burden of the song is, Come, come. The Spirit says, come; the Word says, come; ministers say, come. And whither must we come? Into the ark; and that ark is Christ. As there was then, so there is now, a deluge of wrath approaching. All these things shall be dissolved; 2 Pet. 3:11; and all those, and those only, that are got by faith into Christ, the ark, shall be saved in the great and terrible day of the Lord. Mark 16:16. Is it not our wisdom then to make sure a place in this ark? To close sincerely with Jesus Christ? To accept the gospel offer of redemption and salvation by Him? Behold, we are called! O! let us obey the call; because out of the ark is no salvation; in the ark, no condemnation. 1 Cor. 16:22. Rom. 8:1. Besides this great deluge, there are other lesser floods of wrath, which perhaps may be at the door; and when they come, Christ will be the only ark of safety…
“And they went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.”
4. If we do not speedily close with the gospel offer, and make haste into Christ the ark, the door will be shut shortly, and it will be too late. Though now the door is open, and whoever will may enter,–though now the Spirit says, Come,–and the bride says, Come, Rev. 22:17; yet this will not last always: the tune will be altered shortly; and those that will not come now for a blessing, must depart then with a curse. Matt 25:41. The door will be shut, as it was when the foolish virgins came. Perhaps the door may be shut in this life. I believe there is such a thing, Heb. 12:17. Death will certainly shut the door against all them that persist in their impenitency. There is no getting out of the grave into the ark; as the tree falls by death, so it lies through eternity. It is therefore our great concernment to come by faith to Jesus Christ, and to do it quickly.
Christ All in All, 1691, reprinted 1970, Reiner Publications
Christ our Raiment
To put Him on, is to receive and apply Him to ourselves by a true and lively faith. Believing Him both able and willing to redeem and save me, and thereupon coming to Him, and closing with Him; and upon my so doing, persuading myself that God for his sake does forgive me, and thereupon comforting myself…
He is our Refuge
(3) It is to do it with all speed…
The imminency of our danger. The avenger of blood is at your heels; if he overtake you short of Christ, you are undone for ever.
The uncertainty of our life. We are here today and gone tomorrow: no time is ours but the present time, 1 Cor. 6:2.
The uncertainty of the offer of this refuge. Many a man’s day of life is longer than his day of grace, Luke 19:42. O then bestir yourself; hoist up sail while the wind blows; strike while the iron is hot. Do you think the malefactor pursued would stay to talk and prate with every idle companion? No: but run with all his might for fear of the worst. So should we: his flight was but to save a temporal life, ours an eternal.
2. What encouragement have we thus to fly to Christ for refuge.
(1) His express call and command, “Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden,” Matt 11:28. Heavy laden,–either with outward burdens, want [lack], sickness, unkindness of relations, or malice of enemies. However it be, make your case known to Him, spread it before Him, by prayer and supplication. Cast your care upon Him; believe it is that which He knows to be best for you. He can and will make a way for you to escape… Come to Me, says He, as to your refuge; I will relieve you and succor you, Isa. 50:10.
Christ our Door
3. A door is to shut out those that are without, to keep people from coming in at pleasure. They must knock that will enter. Our hearts have a door, and it is shut against Him, and He is fain [pleased, willing, glad] to knock, and call, Ps. 24:7,9; Cant. 5:2; Rev. 3:20. These houses of his afore-mentioned have a door also, and they are kept by that door from being common. But if we knock, it shall be opened, Matt 7:7,8. Provided we knock in time, else the door will be shut, Matt 25:10,11; Luke 13:26-28. And provided we knock in earnest, Luke 13:24, not coldly, carelessly; not in guile and hypocrisy.
2. Then it concerns us all to get into this temple; not to rest in the outer court of profession, but to press within the veil. The door into this temple is faith, Acts 14:27. When we receive the Lord Jesus, as He is offered to us upon gospel terms, in the way of believing, we are brought into Him, we have union with Him. He becomes ours, we become his. Now inquire, I beseech you—Is this receiving work done? Are ye in Christ Jesus? If so, there is no condemnation, Rom. 8:1. Joash was hid in the temple, and secured there, and so escaped, 2 Kings 11:2. This temple of ours is a safe hiding place from guilt and wrath. It is our city of refuge. O refuse not this offer; say not, as Nehemiah, “Who is there that being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in,” Neh. 6:11.
Remains of the Rev. Philip Henry
Ch. 1 – Despisers of the Gospel
“Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof”
This is a grievous threatening: as full of dread and terror to all impenitent despisers of gospel offers as we shall, ordinarily, meet with in the book of God. It is like a flash of lightning in their faces, or as a clap of thunder in their ears, to rouse and awaken them out of their desperate security.
And oh that I could tell how to speak of it, so that it might have that blessed effect accordingly!
In my entrance upon it I do profess unto you, my beloved brethren, that I do it with fear and trembling. I am unwilling to it; choosing much rather to open the riches of free grace held forth in the promises, for the inviting, alluring poor sinners. But if not the threatening also, how shall we be found faithful? Some that will not be drawn must be driven…
The doctrine in general is this—that all who live and die despising and slighting gospel offers, will most surely perish.
Is not this a serious, awakening subject? They are wisdom’s words, spoken in the same breath, at the same time, in the same place with the rest that go before. See how “Wisdom cries without [outside]; she utters her voice in the streets,” etc., Prov. 1:20,21, etc. And when wisdom is thus earnest in speaking, should not we be so, in some measure in hearing?
18 Sermons by Philip Henry
Wherever God has a [visible] church, there He is present by his Spirit speaking to people: speaking conviction and instruction, to quicken and to comfort. And we ought to obey that voice, and to do accordingly. Sometimes He strives; that is, speaks more earnestly than at other time; but that will not last always. Gen. 6:3. We must take heed, then, of resisting of grieving, of quenching, of doing despite to the Spirit of Grace. Acts 7:51; Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19; and Heb. 10:29.