“Besides these duties of Piety, and works of Mercy, which are commanded to be done on the Lords Day, There are some things which the Lord permits unto us in regard of the weakness and infirmities of our bodies, viz. Sleep, Food, and Apparel. Because we cannot with strength and delight spend the whole day in Sabbath duties, without competent rest, food and apparel; therefore it is lawful for us to spend some time, as in sleep, so in apparelling our selves, and in refreshing our bodies with food, which otherwise would be ready to faint: But by a moderate use of these, we are inabled to do the things we take in hand the more chearfully.
But herein two Cautions ought carefully to be observed.
You must spend no more time about them than needs must. Wherefore your bodies being refreshed with moderate sleep, you ought to get up early on the Lords Day, as about six or seven of the clock, and to use all possible speed in dressing your selves; and not to sit longer than needs must at your meals; that so you may have the more time for the duties of Gods worship and service on his day. And truly, since the Lord is so good and gracious unto you, as to afford you some part of his own day for the refreshment of your bodies; Far be it from you to abuse his goodness, by lavishing away more time therein than needs must.
Second Caution, Do them as Sabbath-dayes-works, which is done two waies.
By doing them for this end, that thereby you may bee the better inabled to serve God. Thus, when at your lying down the evening before the Sabbath, you desire God to give you quiet, comfortable sleep, that thereby your weak bodies may be refreshed, and you the better inabled to serve him the next day in the duties of his worship and service, this is a Sabbath-sleep.
In like manner, when you eat and drink, for this very end, that your bodies may be refreshed, and your spirits revived, and you thereby the better inabled with chearfulness to serve God the remaining part of the day, this is a Sabbaths-eating and drinking.
By raising spiritual and heavenly Meditations from the same. At your first awaking, you should call to minde what day it is, and having blessed God for your comfortable rest and sleep that night you should beg of him the special assistance of his grace, to carry you thorow all the duties of the day. When you are rising out of your beds, you should think, as of the Resurrection of Christs body out of his grave early on that day, so likewise of the Resurrection of your Souls here out of the death of sin, to the life of holiness, and of your bodies at the last day, out of the grave of the earth, to the life of glory in Heaven. In your apparessing your selves, you should then think of the long white robe of Christs Righteousness, and of the happiness of those who have an interest therein. When you are washing your hands and your faces, from the cleansing virtue of the water, you should take occasion to meditate of the cleansing virtue of Christs blood, which alone washeth your souls from the filthy spots and stains of sin. When you go to your Tables, to partake of Gods good creatures, your corporal food for the nourishment of your bodies, should minister occasion of meditating on the spiritual food of your souls, whereby they are nourished unto everlasting life; The bread on your Tables should minde you of Jesus Christ, who is the bread of life that came down from Heaven to quicken your dead souls. Thus from every thing should you indeavour to draw matter of spiritual and heavenly meditation, labouring to keep your hear•s in an holy frame all the day long. For what our Saviour said to his Disciples concerning the loaves and the fishes, Gather up the fragments, let nothing bee lost; The like he seemeth to speak unto you concerning the Lords Day, gather up the parcels thereof, let no part of the day be lost, no not the least minutes, which are precious, as the least filings of Gold.
As the Lord doth permit unto you some things which your weak bodies stand in need of, that thereby you may be the better inabled to serve him on his day: So he is pleased to allow some things to be done by you, even on his day, though they hinder the performance of the proper works thereof; and they are such things as are of absolute necessity.
Quest. If you ask what I mean by works of absolute necessity?
Answ. Such as must needs be done, and yet could not be done the day before the Sabbath, nor put off to the day after, without great prejudice. But on the other side, such things as do no way further the sanctification of the day, but rather hinder the same, and may as well be done the day before, or the day after, or some other time, ought not to be done on the Lords Day.”
~Thomas Gouge, Christian Directions, Showing How to Walk with God All the Day Long.