Born in 1560 near Lake Windemere, Henry Airay grew up in West-morland with his father William. Henry was able to be educated as a child in the local grammar school and as an adult at Oxford University by the good graces and charity of their family friend Bernard Gilpin. Henry would soon transfer to Queen’s College where he would receive his Bachelor of Arts (1583), Master of Arts (1586), Bachelor of Theology (1594), and Doctor of Divinity (1600).
Henry was ordained into vocational ministry in 1586 and preached with an uncommon zeal at Queen’s College. He was soon caught amid controversy for his puritan and reformed views, and in one instance he rebuked and took William Laud to task for preaching “popery.” He preached so regularly within the book of Philippians that it is no surprise Henry’s most well known work is his “Lectures on Philippians” published for the first time in 1618 (2 years after his death).
Henry did pastor in his older years as the rector pf Charlton-on-Otmoor, near Oxford in 1606 and later as rector of Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire in 1615. One year after this last appointment he died. At the funeral his cousin Christopher Potter noted that Henry was well known for “his holiness, integrity, learning, devotion to ministry, and his wise guidance in the government of Queen’s College.” It was during his time as a rector that he was sought out and employed for counsel at Queen’s College and from his advice Queen’s College would send forth many faithful pastors into the Church.
Henry Airay is someone you should get to know. His “Lectures upon the Whole Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians” was republished in 2001, containing 95 sermons, 95! Here is a taste of his work. Henry commenting on Philippians 3:10 said, “I note two reasons why the apostle reckoned afflictions an advantage to him: first, because in afflictions he had fellowship with Christ. Second, because by afflictions he was made like unto Christ.” The same flavor is carried throughout the whole of his 95 sermon collection on Philippians.
Used by God powerfully, unknown to most, zealous for preaching God’s Word, and living a life in line with it. Can we want anymore from our pastors or for ourselves? Nope.