The late Professor Henry Drummond in Pax Vobiscum, gives a very beautiful illustration of Rest.
"Two painters each painted a picture to illustrate his conception of rest. The first chose for his scene a still, lone lake among the far-off mountains. The second threw on his canvas a thundering waterfall, with a fragile birch-tree bending over the foam: at the fork of a branch, almost wet with the cataract’s spray a robin sat on its nest. The first was only stagnation; the last was rest. For in, Rest there are always two elements—tranquility and energy; silence and turbulence; creation and destruction; fearlessness and fearfulness."
The beauty and necessity of rest is taught us day by day in nature. The darkness falls gently over the earth to rest the eyes that have become wearied during the day. Man makes for himself light that shall take the place of the sun; but by so doing he lessens his power of resting and of working to a greater extent than he realizes.
Sleep, "kind nature’s sweet restorer" is another indication of the power and necessity of rest. Here again man has departed from the good designed for him; his sleep being very different from that enjoyed by a healthy child. So insufficient is the nightly rest provided by nature found to be in America that it is necessary to supplement it in the case of Schoolmasters by a "sabbatical year" in seven.
Some valuable thoughts on rest and the acquirement of it by natural means without the aid of the legislature are given by Miss A. P. Call in “Power through Repose." And it is claimed by those who have tried her system that power to rest parts of the body at will or independent muscular control leads inevitably to fallen mental control and power to concentrate one’s mind upon difficulties—the chief factor this of moral as well as of mental development.
The physical and mental in man are not the only elements that need rest. The spirit needs its share of restoration; and it is spiritual rest apparently, that the artist wished to portray in his eloquent picture of the robin. The old saying of St. Augustine is as true today as it ever was:—"Thou hast made man for Thyself and his soul is restless till it finds rest in Thee."
When Jesus said "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest," he did not necessarily imply that to labor and to be heavy-laden were virtues that deserved reward. What he meant was—“You labor and are heavy-laden because you have not yet found your true poise. Follow me, learn of me. So your wavering, tottering souls shall best find out how it can walk upright.”
The Jewish prophet who said "In returning and rest shall ye be saved," must have had a similar idea.
Spiritual rest, if one may venture to define in a few words such a sacred and mysterious possession, is nothing more nor less than complete oneness with God the great Source of Light and Love in whom there is perfection of poise, in whom restoration is unnecessary because there is no waste.
In the early stages of existence the human soul is unstable, swayed here and there by opposing attractions and repulsions. Onward and upward through the ages it moves, now gaining in one quarter, now losing in another, until in the fullness of time it rises into complete union with its mighty origin. On the way there have been many periods of rest more or less partial or complete. Now for the first time is the real rest of the soul attained. No longer is the balance readily disturbed; no longer is rest and work alternated, for this spiritual rest is itself a form of work done without any hampering limitations, done as the impelled active expression of a perfectly balanced character in the worker.