399. A Peal of Bells

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There are many days already past which we might well have wished to see.

A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 7, 1861, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” (Zec 14:20)

1. There are many days already past which we might well have wished to see. Who would not have rejoiced to have seen the day when God struck Rahab and broke the dragon in the deep waters, when Miriam took the timbrel and went forth with the daughters of Israel, saying, “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has thrown the horse and his rider into the sea?” Who might not have wished to have witnessed the glorious victories of the judges when they put to rout the oppressors of Israel; or that day when David returned from the slaughter of Goliath; or that auspicious morning when Solomon’s temple, glittering in unrivalled magnificence, was dedicated by a vast concourse of people with generous sacrifices to the worship of the true God? There were many days in the chronicles of the Jewish Church which are never to be forgotten—earth’s red letter days when God made bare his arm and showed forth his might. There were days, too, in Christ’s history which it was a high privilege to see. The day of his birth—oh that we had been among the shepherds on the plain when they heard the angels sing “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men;” or the day of his death when he cried, “It is finished,” and yielded up the ghost; or, better still, the day of his resurrection, when he routed all our foes by rising again for our justification; or the day of his ascension, when he led captivity captive and ascended up on high; or even that day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God fell on the disciples, and when they, preaching with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, multitudes being added to the Church of these who were ordained to eternal life. Those days are gone; we look back upon them with faith, and as Abraham rejoiced in prospect, so we would do in retrospect. But there are days yet to come for whose advent we may well be eager. There is the day when Ephraim shall not envy Judah nor Judah vex Ephraim, for all the Church of Christ shall be one in spirit. There is the day when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. There is the day, too, when Israel shall be restored to its own land; when its country shall be called no more desolate, but Beulah, and no more forsaken, but Hephzibah shall its name be, for the Lord delights in it. There is especially the day of the Second Advent, that day of days for which I think all other days that went before were made, that day which shall be the summing up, the total of all ages, for the fulness of time shall come, and Christ in the fulness of his glory shall reign among the sons of men. I think I may with your permission add to the list of days which we might desire to see that which is spoken of in the text—“In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’” What connection there may be between that day and others which I have mentioned it is not my purpose this morning to explain. I wish that this would be to us personally the day when it should be fulfilled in us as individuals, and may the Lord hasten the happy day when universally throughout the Church this text has be fulfilled, and upon the bells of the horses there shall be “Holiness to the Lord!”

2. The text, as you perceive, deals with horses which were unclean under the Jewish law; yet, in the day spoken of in the text, the horses themselves shall be purged from commonness or uncleanness, and their harness shall be dedicated to God as certainly as the vestments of the High Priest himself. It will be a happy day indeed when the men who deal with horses, too often a class anything but honest and upright, shall show in their common transactions a consecration to God, so that on the horses’ equipment shall be written, “Holiness to the Lord.” The original Hebrew word translated “bells” is a very singular one, because no one knows precisely what it means. The fact is, the Hebrews knew so little about horses from being forbidden from their use that they did not have a very large vocabulary to describe the harness and other equipments of the horse. The word is translated by some critics, “bells,” by others, “bits,” by some, “frontlets,” by others, “collars,” by some, and by Calvin especially, “blinkers,” and Calvin also hints that the word may mean “stables.” The words must then mean—“The equipment of the horses shall be, ‘Holiness to the Lord,’” and there is no doubt a comparison between the horses and the High Priest: if it is the frontlet—just as the High Priest wore his brow the Hebrew letters in gold “Holiness to the Lord,” so on the frontlet of the horses shall be “Holiness to the Lord,” and as the High Priest wore bells around his garments, so the horses are decorated with their silver bells, there shall be on the bells, “Holiness to the Lord,” and if it indicates any other kind of vestment, even as on the very ornaments of the Priest, on his ephod and breastplate holiness was written, so in every article that shall be by the horse shall holiness to God be most clearly shown, yes, even the stables, unconsecrated as one could suppose they must always remain, shall be consecrated to God. The commonest buildings, set apart to lowliest uses, being frequented by worshippers of the Lord, shall become temples of him who dwells in humble and contrite hearts.

3. The simple meaning of the text is just this, that the day shall come when in common life holiness shall be the guiding star, when the ordinary actions of human existence shall be as much the worship of God as the sacrifice of the altar or the mission of the high priest when he went within the veil. Everything, that which was most despised—the horses, the places seemed the least likely to be consecrated—the stables, and those things which seemed the least holy, even the horses’ harness,—all shall be so thoroughly used in obedience to God’s will that everywhere there shall be, “Holiness to Jehovah.” Common things, then, in the day spoken of by Zechariah, are to be dedicated to God and used in his service.

4. I shall work out this great thought in a somewhat novel manner. First, let us hear the horses’ bells; secondly, let us commend their music; and then, thirdly, let us go home and tune our bells, so that they may be in harmony with this sacred chime—“Holiness to the Lord!”

5. I. First of all, let us HEAR THESE HORSES’ BELLS, which, according to the text, are to be tuned to the heavenly note of “Holiness to the Lord.”

6. First, let us see the trappings of the steed as he goes forth to war. He chomps on his bit and is eager for the fray: his snortings are terrible, his neck is clothed with lightning, and he cries in the midst of the battle, “Aha! Aha! Aha!” War is to our minds the most difficult thing to sanctify to God. The genius of the Christian religion is altogether contrary to everything like strife of any kind, much more to the deadly clash of arms. Yet it may be possible that occasions may arise in which war itself might become hallowed; and certainly we must not deny that many of those who have to deal with war are at this day consecrated men, like Cornelius’ devout soldier, and as truly servants of Christ in the army as though they were civilians. Now I say again, I am no apologist for war; from my soul I loathe it, and I do not understand the position of a Christian man as a warrior, but still I greatly rejoice that there are to be found at this present day in the ranks many of those who fear God and adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour. I may almost venture to say that the war against the tyrant, Charles I, was a consecrated fight. The people of God had been hunted like partridges upon the mountains, in the reigns of Elizabeth, and James, and Charles. At last their lion-like spirits turned at bay, and their enemies were driven back before their gallant fury; Cromwell, the Christian hero, mounted his charger, and bade his saintly warriors, with the sword in one hand and the Bible in the other, fight for England’s liberty. I think in those valiant charges when they shouted their battle cry—“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge”—there was, as if ever there was, upon the frontlets of the horses, their collars, and their bits, “Holiness to the Lord.” May such a war never rise again, but honour to the ashes of the consecrated brave! If I could believe that there were in America a sincere desire on the part of the Northerners to set free every slave, I would say, “God speed their swords and bless their arms.” If I could believe that the chain would be broken, and that it was their intent to do it,—if I did not fear that they will yet compromise and make terms with the bloodhound’s master, and let him still hold his blood stained property in the souls and bodies of men, I would say that that might be, if war ever could be, a consecrated war, and the bits of the horses would be “Holiness to the Lord.” But since that is a difficult point to speak of, since, as I have said before, the very genius and spirit of Christianity go against war altogether, though I must believe there have been occasions in which the bells of war horses have been “Holiness to the Lord,” yet I would rather speak of individuals. If there ever lived a man who, disinterested in spirit, and without any desire of aggrandizement or selfish honour, held in his hand a consecrated sword, it is Garibaldi. I think of him, for his speeches make me believe it, not only as a hero, but as a Christian, as the scourge of Popery and the enemy of all despotism; it might be said that his war garments are “Holiness to the Lord.” We might say the same of Hedley Vicars,1 whose history, so well written, you have all so often read, and of Havelock,2 our own true Havelock, who for the deliverance of our own wives and sisters, in silence rushed upon his prey, and delivered women and children out of the fierce jaws of the blood loving tiger. These men preached Christ wherever they went. I do not love their trade, but I love them. I would wish them to put up their swords into their scabbards; but when they did draw them, I am sure they did it in the full conviction that they were doing their duty, and though even that may not justify the error, yet it must prevent any of us from condemning them. I believe that they did it as in the sight of God, and what they did was to them “Holiness to the Lord.” Oh! may there never be war again! may peace reign! but if there must be wars, may they all be just ones! if there must be fighting, may it always be for the freedom of the slave and the deliverance of the helpless! and in all this may Jehovah, even in the battle, in the garments rolled in blood, and in the fire and vapour of smoke, still be acknowledged, and across the field of fire may there be written, “Holiness to the Lord!”

7. We turn aside awhile, for other horses are coming, and their bells are ringing forth “Holiness to the Lord.” Horses are used in state. In splendour, kings, princes, and judges of the land ride through the crowd. The text says, “Upon the bells of the horses shall be, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’” Drawn by noble steeds, glittering with rich caparisons,3 an exalted personage passes through the thronging mass; it is a sovereign, and oh! when the sovereign of a nation has a heart which bows before God, and has a hope of an immortal and an imperishable crown, then regal state is sanctified, and the bells upon the horses are “Holiness to the Lord.” When a Sir Matthew Hale rode in the judge’s chariot to distribute justice, surely the state which attended the Lord Chief Justice of the land was holiness to God, and when a Sir Thomas Abney even on the night of the Lord Mayor’s banquet, retired awhile so that he might have prayer with his family and his servants, surely then the too gaudy show of civic pomp was for that once “Holiness to the Lord.” And, I think, when Wilberforce went to the House of Commons, however he might ride, the bit of his horse was “Holiness to the Lord.” Since we cannot dispense with the ceremonial honour which surrounds governors, we must consecrate it; as long as kingdoms remain, it must be the prayer of Christians that the state may be a holy state, and that its officers and governors may be devout and upright men. Little do we know, my brethren, what mischief would soon be done in the high places of the land, if we had back again upon the throne a George IV, if once again our eminent men were found indulging in the lowest pastimes of the very scum of this city; if again unblushing bribery defiled the judgment seat; if a bloody Jeffreys could browbeat the saints of God once more—then we should consider it a matter of importance to pray to God for kings and those in authority. Had we not, my brethren, better think it a matter of importance now, and pray daily to God that he would cause the state to be more and more consecrated to him, so that the very bells upon the horses, as they walk in solemn pomp, may be “Holiness to the Lord?”

8. But I hear the tinkling of other bells. The day is to come when, not only war and the states shall be consecrated to Christ, but 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 to the seaside, or to continental countries. 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 to the Lord.” A Christian man needs recreation as well as another man; the bow must be unstrung, for the soul always bent to work shall soon lose the energy to labour. There must be times for breathing the fresh country air, and looking upon the meadows and the fields. I wish such days came more often for the poor toiling population of this huge labyrinth of bricks; oh that you could more often see the laughing face of the verdant earth, and the smokeless heavens! But note this, let us as Christian men see to it that we carry the spirit of this text with us wherever we go; so that the bells of the horses are, “Holiness to the Lord,” and our very recreations are 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, 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 an oratory for your soul. Why everything that your eye looks upon, from the king cup flower in the meadow to the cedar upon the mountain may make you praise God, and when it is so, then the bells upon the horses are “Holiness to the Lord.” If in seeking rest you are really desiring to get strength that you may spend it in his service, if you do not take rest for your pleasure’s sake, but that stringing your muscles once more and getting your soul into tune, you may with greater vigour serve him in days to come; then, again, the bells of the horses are “Holiness to the Lord.” And if you avail yourself of any opportunities which your recreation throws in your way, to speak a kind word and a word for Christ to those whom you pass or with whom you have chance communion in your travellings, then, again, the bells of the horses are “Holiness to the Lord.” It is greatly to be regretted that the majority of our people who go to the seaside, and especially who go to Paris, leave their godliness behind them. One of the ministers of the Church at l’Oratoire told me, the manner in which English Christians spend their Sundays in Paris is a very serious impediment to the growth of religion in France. Men think that when they are abroad they may leave their habits which they practised at home behind them. Very often have I known that at the seaside, Christians knowingly and wilfully keep the proprietors of the houses where they lodge from places of worship, to prepare their sumptuous repasts on the Sabbath day, and so virtually prevent them from hearing the Word of God for six or nine months in the year. There may be some of you who are going out by and by, I urge you in your recreation not to leave your religion behind you. You will take off your black coat and put on your tourist’s suit, but take your Christian character with you I beseech you. Why should it be thought of you that your religion is a local thing, and that out of the way of society, which is a sort of check upon you, you may be free to sin as others do?

9. Listen to the bells again. Horses are used for journeying. We must all journey sometimes, and when we do, the bells upon the horses and the shrill scream of the steam engine should still be—“Holiness to the Lord.” The missionary is crossing the sea; perhaps at this very hour while we are sitting quietly here, his boat is leaping the billows and springing from mountain wave to mountain wave. I believe that every motion of the paddles is “Holiness to the Lord,” because the ship is carrying forth God’s appointed messenger to proclaim the gospel among the heathen. There are Christian men on board who are not going forth to preach, but to emigrate and settle down; now if they intend in emigrating to establish a Church of Christ where they are to live, and to preach the gospel where they may be called to go, every motion of the vessel is “Holiness to the Lord.” Perhaps she carries merchants who go abroad to trade and return again, but if they are about to trade as Christians, and then consecrate their substance to God, that vessel, though when she leaves a black trail across the sky in her cloud of smoke, is as accepted as the smoke of sacrifice—is “Holiness to the Lord.” Where there is a true heart, the horse that bears it is a consecrated one. Let our goings out be in the Lord’s sight. We are lights: if the light is moved, it should be to illuminate other places. We are salt: if the salt is scattered, it should be that the conserving influence should be felt the more widely. Do not go from home unless you feel that you can take your Master with you; and when you are away from home, always seek to be doing something for your Master, so that when you are gone, you may leave a fragrance behind you. How much good might some do who are called to travel continually! There are quite a few in this Church, for instance, who travel as commercial gentlemen; I know one or two of them who scarcely ever go into a town without preaching the Word there; and I know others of them who, in the commercial room where they meet with some who despise the religion of Christ, speak boldly for the truth as it is in Jesus, and are as useful in their daily journeyings as any Christian men could be who held a position in the Sunday School, or officiated as deacons in the Church at home. Let your journeyings, then, always be with the ringing of these bells, “Holiness to the Lord!”

10. But horses of old were also used for merchandise, and when the pack horses went in long trains, the lead horses always had bells so that the others might be guided in the darkness. I think there is an allusion to that in the text, for such may have been the custom of the eastern caravans, as indeed it was, and the text means, then, that merchandise and our common trade should be “Holiness to the Lord.” Oh sirs! when you take down your shutters in the morning, let it be with a prayer that your business of the day may be as much a sacrifice to God as the business which I may have to transact as the pastor of the Church; and when you stand behind the counter ask of God that in your dealings, though they are common to the eyes of men, there may be an inward spirituality which God shall reveal, so that there may be “Holiness to the Lord.” Sometimes when some of you have been motivated by a sermon, you have come to me and said, “Mr. Spurgeon, could I go to China? Could I become a missionary? Could I become a minister?” In very many cases the brethren who offer are exceedingly unfit for any service of the kind, for they have very little gift of expression, very little natural genius, and no aptitude for such a work, and I have constantly and frequently to say, “My dear brother, be consecrated to Christ in your daily calling; do not seek to take a spiritual office, but spiritualise your common office.” Why, the cobbler can consecrate his lapstone while many a minister has desecrated his pulpit. The ploughman can put his hand to the plough in as holy a manner as any minister ever did to the sacramental bread. In dealing with your ribbons and your groceries, in handling your bricks and your trowels, you can be as truly priests to God as were those who slew the young bulls and burned them with the holy fire in the days gone by. This old fact needs to be brought out again. We do not so much want great preachers as good upright tradesmen, it is not so much deacons and elders we long for as it is to have men who are deacons for Christ in common life, and are really elders of the Church in their ordinary conduct. Sirs, Christ did not come into the world to take all fishermen from their nets though he did take some; nor to call all tax collectors from the receipt of custom though he did call one; he did not come to make every Martha into a Mary though he did bless a Martha and a Mary too. He would still have you be housewives; be sisters of mercy in your own homes. He would have you be tradesmen, buyers, and sellers, workers and toilers still, for the end of Christianity is not to make preachers, but to make holy men; the preacher is only the tool; he may be sometimes only the scaffold of the house; but you are God’s husbandry; you are God’s building; you, in your common acts and your common deeds, are those who are to serve God. That wicked fiction of the Church of Rome, that her cathedrals are holy, has made us think that our houses are not holy. Why, my friends, our houses are as holy, or ought to be, as any church or chapel. Some seem to think that there is some peculiar sanctity about aisles and oak seats, stone pillars and gothic arches. Holiness cannot belong to stones; holiness has to do with nothing except the acts and thoughts of intelligent subjects, and if holiness can by metaphor belong to places or substances, it must be through the Christian holy minds that are in contact with them. I will not have it that that parish church or that this place is one whit more holy than that room where you live if you offer prayer and praise there. Oh! brethren, you must not think that the table, and the font, and the baptistry are holy; no, no; if there is holiness in them, so may there be in your own table, in your own labours, and in your own tools which you handle; at least, there will be as much in one as in the other if with a holy mind you serve God in both. Not confined holiness—that is superstition; universal holiness—that is Christianity; not the bowls upon the holy altar—that is Judaism; but the bells upon the holy horses—that is true living godliness and vital Christianity. See to it, then, Christian friends, in your common daily doings, that the bells upon the horses are “Holiness to the Lord.”

11. But horses were also used, as they still are, for toil, and toil, though I have already anticipated the subject, toil is to be holiness to the Lord. The horse is turning over the furrow with the plough, and if it is held by a godly husbandman, the bells upon that horse are “Holiness to the Lord.” And now it is time when the hay should be cut down and harvested; if with gratitude in his heart, the farmer takes home the fruit of the earth, the harvest is “Holiness to the Lord.” And when harvest time comes around, and all the country is glad, every shout of harvest home ought to be a holy shout; every smile that is on the brow of the tiller of the soil should be a holy smile; and when he has consecrated his wave sheaf to his God, when he has given a part of his increase to the poor and needy, and when he has bent his knee and thanked the Universal Giver of all good, then the farmer’s toil is “Holiness to the Lord.” I wish, my dear brethren, that you would make your common toils “Holiness to the Lord.” Come to look upon your meals as though they were sacraments; your clothes as though they were priestly vestments; your common words as though you were preaching daily sermons; and your everyday thoughts as though you were thinking for the Sabbath of holy things. It is not to be always talking religion, but to be talking religiously, that makes the Christian; it is not to be performing outward symbols; it is to be possessing the inward spirit. I do believe that there is more piety in going to visit the poor and needy and scattering your substance among them; more piety in teaching the poor ignorant ragged child, more piety in seeking to help some poor struggling tradesman, than there is in many a long prayer, and many a sanctimonious whine, indeed, and in many a long and eloquent discourse. That common piety which like common sense is most often the most uncommon of all, is what we need to have, and if I could make one man among you become thus consecrated, I should think I had, under God, done as much as though I poured you out in scores upon the plain of Hindustan, or sent you to edify the Chinese, or to instruct the Ethiopian. We want you as missionaries here; we want you as missionaries in daily life, and we must have you too, or else the Church will not increase, nor will the name of Christ be magnified. I have thus tried to make you listen to the ringing of these bells.

12. II. Now for the second point; let us COMMEND THE MUSIC of the bells upon the horses.

13. The religion of common life I must commend, first of all, for its loudness. These are many men who do not hear the Church bell, who will hear the bells upon the horses, by which I mean that preach as frequently as we may, some people will never believe us, but they cannot help believing what they see in your lives. We may extol Christ, and they will say, “It is his office and duty,” but if your actions are what they should be, if your lives are saturated with the spirit of Jesus, they cannot help hearing them. They may put their fingers in their ears and not hear our sermons, but they must hear your sermons, for they can hear them through their eyes as well as through their ears, if you in your daily walk act as becomes the gospel of Christ.

14. Then, again, I commend the music of these horses’ bells, not only for loudness, but for clarity. Many people cannot understand our sermons. There are words we use that they do not try to comprehend, and some which the carnal mind cannot receive; but they can understand your sermons, if they cannot mine. If you have conducted business honourably, if you, instead of taking undue advantage, have only taken that which is your due, if they have seen you refuse to tell a lie though you might have gained much by it, if they have known you to stand firm in your integrity, while others laughed at you as a fool and a madman, they can understand it. My sermons may be mystifying, but yours would not be. The church bell may sometimes have a cracked note; but the bells upon the horses will be so clear that they will be compelled in their consciences to believe what you teach.

15. Again, I commend the music of these bells for its constancy. The church bell rings only once a week; I am preaching to you some three or four sermons in a week, but you, if you consecrate your common things, will be preaching all day long. You will keep the bells upon the horses ringing every time the horses nod their heads. Every time they move there will be a fresh peal, and that is the advantage of putting the bells not on the steeple, but on the horse, so that they must always ring. This place is shut up a great part of the week, and only opened occasionally for worship; but you ought to keep your preaching places open always. There, behind the counter, should be your pulpit, or in the Grain Exchange, or the Market, or in the family; you should be always preaching. Your life should be always one continual sacrament, always one constant service for God. I commend this music, then, for its constancy as well as for its loudness and for its clarity.

16. Again, we must praise it for its universality. My church bell can only ring in one place, and the bells in the parish church only ring in the steeples where they hang; but the bells upon the horses ring wherever the horses go; and so with your piety, it will ring wherever you go. You can preach in the lodging house, you can preach in that backroom, where poverty has found a haunt, you can preach wherever God in his providence has placed you; at the Boardroom table, in the midst of the Corporation, in the Senate, in the House of Commons, you can preach wherever God calls you. I say again, the bells upon the horses ring wherever the horses go, and so must your piety ring wherever you are. This universal preaching in every court, and lane, and alley, is far more effective than our preaching ever can be.

17. Once more, I commend the bells upon the horses for their harmony. You know our church bells ring different notes. You go into one, you hear Puseyism; you go into another, and you hear sound evangelical doctrine; you enter another and you only hear infidelity. Church bells run through the octave of notes. Among true Christians, our bells often ring a little differently. My Wesleyan brothers’ bell does not ring quite the same as mine, nor mine exactly the same as the Independents’; but, note, the bells on the horses all are alike. One Christian man’s life is like another Christian man’s life. There is nothing contradictory in the practical sermon, if there is in the doctrinal. If the vocal testimony of the Church should be somewhat divided, yet the living testimony of the Church is always one, if it be always holiness, holiness, holiness to the Lord. See to it, then, that you ring these bells upon the horses for their lovely harmony, and the absence of all discord.

18. And then once more, I commend the bells upon the horses, for they ring out a divine note. Our church bells do not always do that. Sometimes our sermons are a little to the honour and glory of the speaker, a little to the honour and glory of a particular Church; but the bells on the horses do not ring out the glory of man, but holiness to the Lord, to the Lord, to the Lord. And so if you consecrate your whole life, the testimony of that life may be to your credit, but still it will be far more to the honour and glory of God. There will be no fear that man shall take the honour of your pious consecration, of your holy watchfulness, of your humble integrity, of your industry, your perseverance, and your constancy in the path of right. The bells upon your horses shall ring a more divine note than I fear will yet be rung from the bells of our pulpit. I have thus tried to commend the music.

19. III. And now I close, by asking you to go home and TUNE YOUR BELLS TO THIS NOTE.

20. You have many bells in your house, go home and tune first of all the parlour bell. It is a bad thing when a Christian husband is a worse husband than a worldly one; it is an evil thing when the husband and wife do not live together as partakers of the grace of Christ. Perhaps you will say this is a very homely remark, but I think it is a very necessary one, for if a man cannot conduct himself well in his own family, why is he in the Church? I fear there have been many who have been mighty men in the Church who, if their private affairs had been a little examined, might have come out a little scarred and marred in the ordeal. Should I have a Christian man here who is not acting according to the Christian mandate, should I have a Christian woman here who pulls her house down with her own hands, through idleness and carelessness, let me speak to them. How can the husband think of edifying others at the prayer meeting, until first he is what he should be before his own house? The husband is to love his wife, even as Christ loved the Church; the wife must see that she reverence her husband, the children must be obedient, and the household affairs must be ordered with discretion, or else your bells are not “Holiness to the Lord.”

21. Then when you have looked at that, look at the kitchen bell; see that it sounds forth “Holiness to the Lord.” Let the servant, not with eyeservice, as a man pleaser, serve her master, and let the master take care that he gives to his servant that which is just and equal. Oh! it is a blessed thing when there is piety in the kitchen, and when the whole household is a Church. Indeed, my brethren, I can speak with the joy of one who has servants that fear God; very often my eyes have been filled with tears through the peace, and joy, and rest of spirit that I have had in my own household, since God has given to me those that fear his name. See to it, that the kitchen bell does not ring a contrary note to your parlour bell, for if the kitchen maid can say, “My master is pious abroad, but he is wicked at home; he can talk very well in the pulpit, and pray very nicely at the prayer meeting, but he neglects us; he is harsh, overbearing, and passionate, it will spoil all my sermons.” If you say to the servant, “Come and hear our minister,” she will say, “I do not want to hear him; if he is not a better man than you are, he will not do much good for me.” Note then, if the bells of the horses are to be holy, certainly the bells of the kitchen should be holy too.

22. Then some of you have a shop bell, a little bell which rings as whenever anyone comes in. Now take care that this is “Holiness to the Lord.” If people get cheated at other shops, do not let them get cheated at yours, or they still be sure to say, “Ah! you hear Spurgeon; that is your religion, is it?” They will be sure to throw the blame on your religion and not on you. If there is a place where they get short changed, let it never be at yours; if there is a place where there is a lack of integrity, or civility, or attention, let it not be yours, but try to act so that you do not make your religion help your trade, yet you keep your trade always in subservience to your religion, and seek to glorify God in all that you do.

23. Some of you have a factory bell, that bell rings at certain hours, and I see your men come streaming down the street to work. Now make that bell “Holiness to the Lord.” When will the time come when all these quarrellings shall be done with between employer and worker? When shall the day come when both of them shall seek to have perfect peace and harmony? For it is to their mutual interest, let them know. Oh! when shall it be that the workman shall feel that he has what is just and equal? And on the other hand when shall the employer feel that he does not have to deal with men, who when given an inch will take a mile, but who are content to deal as fairly with him as he would with them. If I have any of your great cotton lords here, if I have any men who have many employees, let them take care that their religion turns their factory bell, or else I would not give a farthing for all their religion, let them give what they may towards the maintenance of it.

24. Then some of you have visiting bell, for I have seen it marked over, “visitors.” And what are visits among the higher classes? It was my misfortune once to sit in the corner of a drawing room, and listen to the conversation during a visit. If it had been condensed into the sense or usefulness it contained, it might have been spoken in something like a fraction of a second. But there it went on, talk, talk, talk, about nothing at all and when it was done they went away I have no doubt greatly refreshed. Now I think the visits of Christian people should never be like that. If you go to see anyone, know what you are going for and have a message to go with, and go with some intention. If God had meant you and me to waste our time in frivolous visits he would have made us butterflies and not men. He would have made us so that we might sip the nectar from the flowers like bees, instead of have made men whose time is precious and whose hours cannot be weighed in the scale with diamonds. Let your visits be rather to the sick to give them comfort, to the poor to give them help, to your friends to show yourself friendly, and to the godly to receive godly refreshment, than to the frivolous to waste an hour or to the fashionable to maintain a fancied dignity. Let everything, whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, be done for the glory of God.

25. Physician, there is a bell at your door, let that be “Holiness to the Lord.” Let those kind acts of yours to the distressed poor, let those divine acts of stooping down to the poor wayfarer in his suffering, consecrate your practice. Let your bell be “Holiness to the Lord.”

26. Let each of you, whatever his calling may be, seek to find some special way in which that calling may be conducive to the glory of Christ. You are a little star in the Pleiades; do not wish to be the pole star, if you were taken out of the Pleiades, the constellation would not be what it is now. Stay where you are, but shed your special rays upon the earth; and if you are only a little star, together do not the little stars shed much light, and earth would be dark if they all were quenched? I have tried to preach a plain homely sermon, but, perhaps I have not hit the mark; perhaps I have not made you feel what I want you to feel. Why, I wish have every janitor’s bell “Holiness to the Lord.” Whatever your business is, though you are a scavenger, though you street cleaner, though you polish shoes—whatever you have to do, let everything be done to the glory of God. And, if anyone says it cannot be done, show them the way, for the best practical proof is the proof of fact. I may preach today, and preach twenty days about making the bells upon the horses holiness to the Lord, but if you do not tune your own private conversation, the text will only cause laughter among some, and will not be of practical profit to anyone. Is there anything wrong at home? Go and set it to rights. Is there anything wrong in the shop or in the kitchen? If you have not done what you ought to have done as a Christian man, if you have not acted as you ought to have done in your business, go and do better. Not that you are to be saved by works, I have been speaking to those who are saved already. Being saved, show by your profession what you believe, and would by your acts glorify your Master. Let me ask you to think often of this text—“In that day shall there be on the bells of the horses, ‘Holiness to the Lord.’”

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.


  1. Hedley Shafto Johnstone Vicars (1826-1855) was a British Army officer and evangelical who was killed in action during the Crimean War.
  2. Major-General Sir Henry Havelock, KCB (5 April 1795-29 November 1857) was a British general who is particularly associated with India. He was noted for his recapture of Cawnpore from rebels during Indian Rebellion of 1857.
  3. Caparison: A cloth or covering spread over the saddle or harness of a horse, often gaily ornamented. OED

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