A letter written to his wife in 1782…….
The Sabbath is approaching; and on the Sabbath day night this will come into your hand. I hope we shall find it a precious day of rest to our souls. It commemorates the accomplishment of that stupendous work which brings deliverance to guilty sinners, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is an emblem of that rest which sinners find in Christ for their weary souls, in consequence of his having finished the glorious work he had undertaken. This is also a pledge of that rest that yet remaineth for the people of God. As sure as we are now enjoying the one, we shall soon enjoy the other, if indeed we are pilgrims and sojourners here on earth.
The Jewish Sabbath, being the seventh day , was to them a commemoration of their glorious deliverance from their Egyptian bondage, a sign between God and them, and a pledge of the promised deliverance. It looked backward and forward, it reminded them of their slavery and deliverance from it, whilst by faith they were looking forward to the land of promise, where they should rest from their wanderings in a barren and dangerous wilderness. Our Sabbath also speaks the same language, – it reminds us of a bondage infinitely dreadful, and a deliverance infinitely complete and glorious, and also of a rest eternal in the heavens. It directly looks to Christ as the glorious author of this deliverance, and in whom only we can find rest to our souls. The rest is his purchase and gift – “I will give you rest.” When we consider what this rest cost him, can we help admiring his love and his kindness? “The travail of his soul” is our rest. “With his stripes we are healed – He hath borne our sorrows and carried our griefs,” – what words are these. His sorrow is our joy, his travail our rest, his stripes are our medicine, and his death is our life. How strange the mystery!
You see my dear, where we are to go for rest, when weary and burdened – Jesus gives it. And if we have it not, the reason is, because we go not to him for it. The sabbath reminds us both of a duty and of a privilege in this view. It preaches to us, whilst our bodies rest from worldly toil, that we should seek rest also for our weary souls in Jesus Christ hath “ceased from his work,” having gloriously finished it. God the Father looks upon every thing which Christ has done on our behalf and said “Behold it is very good,” that is , comely, glorious, satisfactory and sufficient, bringing glory to God in the highest, and peace, and happiness on earth. May the Lord open our eyes to behold also the glory of the stupendous work. In the light of the Spirit it will appear to us to be very good. We shall with astonishment, admire and rejoice in it, as the means of our present and eternal rest.
There is rest now in Christ; but the apostle saith “there remaineth a rest for the people of God.” They have rest for their souls now by faith in Christ; but there remaineth a rest, both for body and soul, eternal in the heavens. Our rest now in Christ is the firstfruits; the harvest will soon follow. The sabbath is a sign of the one, and a pledge of the other. Let us therefore be not weary in well doing, but be steadfast and unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Let us with cheerfulness bear the cross. It is for but a little while. If the road is rough, let us not complain, for it leads to a glorious rest which nothing shall ever disturb. Let every returning sabbath revive our drooping spirits with this glorious hope, and assure our faith with increasing confidence, that whilst we are now by faith resting in Jesus, all our toils, crosses and troubles will soon be for ever at an end.
Thomas Charles – Spiritual Counsels – Banner of Truth Trust, 1993 – page 207/8