Exerpts from The Morality of the Fourth Commandment, as Still in Force to Bind Christians (London: 1641). By William Twisse D. D. From An Anthology of Presbyterian & Reformed Literature 1.3 (1988) 79:
“But it may be said, that men’s minds being burdened, and oppressed with the former service of the day, therefore some relaxation is to be granted for the refreshing of our spirits; as much as to say, a part of the Lord’s Day is to be allowed for profane sports and pastimes, to refresh us after we have been tired out with serving God. Can this be savory in the ears of a Christian?”
~William Twisse, Morality of the Fourth Commandment, 164
[pp. 242-244] As for recreations, which are here said to serve lawfully to the refreshing of our spirits; this appellation is very ambiguous, neither do I know any difference between the recreating of our spirits, and the refreshing of our spirits. Yet here the refreshing of our spirits is made the end of recreation. Again it were good to distinguish between recreation of the body, and recreation of the mind. I think the refreshing of spirits pertains to the recreation of the body. Men’s spirits are natural and material things, and they are apt to be wasted (1) naturally; for as life consists in calido, in hot matter, so heat is apt to spend and waste the matter wherein it is; and spirits thus wasted are recreated, that is, repaired by eating and drinking. And thus provisions of victuals are commonly called recreates.
(2.) They are wasted also by labor voluntarily undertaken, and these are repaired, as by the former way, so by rest also. And each way we are allowed to recreate our spirits on the Lord’s Day; and as to allow such rest to our servants as a work of mercy, so to our own bodies also. But now a-days many courses are called recreations, wherein there is found little rest; and the natural spirits of man are rather wasted, and his nature tired; far more than the one is repaired, or the other eased. And when all comes to all, I doubt the issue will be, to style the pleasures of our senses by the cleanly name of recreations.
Now the Jews were expressly forbidden to find their own pleasures on the Lord´s holy day (Is. 58:13); yet were they not forbidden all pleasure, that belonged only to such a Sabbath as was a fast; and therein indeed hypocrites are taxed for finding pleasure on that day (Is. 58:3). But the weekly Sabbath was for pleasure and delight, but not for man’s own pleasure, nor for the doing of their own ways. But to delight in the Lord, which is spiritual pleasure, and the recreating of our souls in the Lord. This is blessed rest, thus to rest unto him; and the Word of God is the best food of the soul. No recreations like unto God’s holy ordinances. Of wisdom it is said, that her ways are the ways of pleasantness (Pro. 3:17). I willing confess, that to the natural man, as the things of God are foolishness, so the word of God is a reproach unto him. He hath no delight in it (1 Cor. 2:14; Jer. 6:10. He delights rather in carnal pleasures; and is it fit to humor him in such courses, and that on the Lord’s day? Our Savior expressly tells us, that The pleasures life choke the word, and make it become unfruitful (Luke 8:14). Therefore it no way fits a man to God’s service; and if way is opened to such courses, though not till after evening prayer, as many as are taken with them, will have their minds running upon them, so as to say, when will the Sabbath be gone, and the time of divine service over? That so they may come to their sports, as well as covetous persons longed after the like, that they may return to their trading.
A natural man, before his calling is described unto us in Scripture, to be such a one as served lusts and diverse pleasures (Titus 3:3), and the wicked are said to to spend their days in pleasure (Job 36:11); and such are they whom the Prophet describes after this manner, Hear now thou that art given to pleasure (Is. 47:8). As for the children of God, as they are renewed in their affections generally, so the matter of their delight is much altered. His delight is in the law of the Lord (Psa. 1:2); as Christ says, I delight to do thy will (Psa. 40:1), and I delight myself in thy statutes; thy testimonies are my delight; and I will delight myself in thy commandments (Psa. 119:16, 24, 47), and Thy comforts delight my soul (Psa. 94:19). On the other side, the character of the fool is this, He hath no delight m understanding (Ps. 18.2). As for the reformation of such fools, let every wise and sober Christian consider, whether it is a fit course to let the reigns loose upon their neck, and give them liberty to take their courses, and not rather to endeavor to wean them therefrom by representing the vanity of them, witnessed by the experience of King Solomon, who was acquainted with the delights of the sons of men (Ecc. 2:8) as much as any, and tells us what fruit and profit he reaped by them, saying vanity of vanities, all is but vanity; and that the end of that discourse of his, is to promote this exhortation, Fear God, and keep his commandments, For this is the whole man. Then on the other side, the blessed, the comfortable and only profitable condition of delighting in the Lord, in the judgment of David, the father of King Solomon, Delight thou in the Lord, and he shall give thee thy heart’s desire (Ps. 37:4); to meet with the contrary judgment of carnal men, who say, It profitteth not a man, that he should delight himself with God (Job 34:9). If it is said that such sports are tolerated to fit a man for his calling the day following; it is very strange that works of our calling should not be permitted on any part of the Sabbath day, and sports and pastimes should. And shall not the spending of our time in God’s service, not public only, but private also, far better fit us to serve God in the works of our calling, and make us more capable of his blessing upon our labors, than the exercising of ourselves in sports and pastimes.
[pp. 184] Lastly, all recreations are to this end, even to fit us to the works of our calling; either for the works of our particular callings, or the works of our callings, as we are Christians. Such sports, if they fit us for the service of God, were more seasonable in the morning than in the evening. If for the works of our particular calling, then are they inferior works to the works of our calling, the furthering whereof is their end; and the means are always inferior in dignity to the end. Now if the more noble works are forbidden on that day, how much more such as are inferior are forbidden? But it may be said, that men’s minds being burdened, and oppressed with the former service of the day, therefore some relaxation is to be granted for the refreshing of our spirits; as much as to say, a part of the Lord’s Day is to be allowed for profane sports and pastimes, to refresh us after we have been tired out with serving God. Can this be savory in the ears of a Christian?