A peal of bells
‘In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD.’ Zechariah 14:20
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 8:1–9
Even pleasure and recreation shall become Holiness to the Lord. When you are travelling in Alpine regions, you will be amused by the ringing of the little bells upon the horses. You are there for rest, to recruit the body, but let that rest be taken in the spirit of holiness. I fear that many leave their religion behind them when they go away. It ought not to be so; in our pleasures as well as in everything else, on the very bells of the horses there should be, Holiness unto the Lord. A Christian man needs recreation as well as another man. There must be times for breathing the fresh country air, and looking upon the meadows and the fields. I wish such days came oftener to the poor toiling population of this huge labyrinth of brick. But mark this; let us as Christians see to it that we carry the spirit of this text with us wherever we go; that the bells of the horses be, Holiness to the Lord, and our very recreations be done as sacredly and as much in the sight of God as our sacraments and our solemn feast days. Does recreation mean sin? Then, indeed, you have nothing to do with it. Does pleasure mean iniquity? Deny yourselves. But there are pleasures which mean no such thing. As you traverse Alpine regions, let your thoughts stand on the mountain tops and talk with God, or if you walk the fair lanes of England, let the cool retreat become a private place of worship for your soul. Why, everything that your eye looks upon, from the kingcup in the meadow to the cedar upon the mountain may make you praise God.
For meditation: God is not opposed to holidays. He rested on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2) and on that basis established a weekly day of rest for his people to enjoy with him, not apart from him (Exodus 20:8–11; 31:15–17). When his disciples returned from a preaching tour, Jesus invited them to have a rest in his presence away from the crowds (Mark 6:30–32). Is he a welcome companion on your holidays or would you prefer to leave him at home?
Sermon no. 399
7 July (1861)