434) Plain Advice for Plain People

From John Ploughman’s Talks: Plain Advice for Plain People,

by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), English preacher and author, 1869.

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When we are injured, we are bound as Christians to bear it without malice; but we are not to pretend that we do not feel it, for this will but encourage our enemies to kick us again.  He who is cheated twice by the same man is half as bad as the rogue; and it is very much so in other injuries.  Unless we claim our rights, we are ourselves to blame if we do not get them.  Paul was willing to bear stripes for his Master’s sake, but he did not forget to tell the magistrates that he was a Roman; and when those gentlemen wished to put him out of prison privately, he said, “Nay, verily, let them come themselves and fetch us out” (Acts 16:37).  (Chapter 4)

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With children, you must mix gentleness with firmness; they must not always have their own way, but they must not always be thwarted.  Always give to a pig when it grunts, and to a child when it cries, and you will have a fine pig and a spoiled child.  (Chapter 4)

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Never bind up a man’s head before it is broken, or comfort a conscience that makes no confessions.  (Chapter 11)

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We must try to state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  If we begin calling eleven inches a foot, we shall go on till we call one inch two feet.  If we call a heifer a cow, we may one day call a mouse a bull.  Once you start exaggerating you have left the road of truth, and there is no telling where the crooked lane may lead you to.  He who tells little lies will soon think nothing of great ones, for the principle is the same.  (Ch. 20)

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I would not choose to go where I should be afraid to die, nor could I bear to live without a good hope for the hereafter.  I would not choose to sit on a barrel of gunpowder and smoke a pipe, but that is what those do who are thoughtless about their souls while life is so uncertain.  (Chapter 21)

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Don’t be whining about not having a fair start…  Money you earn yourself is much sweeter than any you might inherit.  A scant breakfast in the morning whets the appetite for a feast later in the day. Your present want will make future prosperity all the sweeter…

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As to a little trouble, who expects to find cherries without stones or roses without thorns?  He who would win must learn to bear.  Idleness lies in bed sick, where industry finds health and wealth.  The dog in the kennel barks at the fleas, the hunting dog does not even know they are there.

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To the young the road up the hill may be hard, but at any rate it is open.  They who set a stout heart against a stiff hill shall climb it yet.  What was hard to bear is sweet to remember. (Chapter 22)

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If you want to do good in the world, the little word “Try” comes in again.  There are plenty of ways of serving God, and some that will fit you exactly as a key fits a lock.  Don’t hold back because you cannot preach in St. Paul’s; be content to talk to one or two in a cottage.  Very good wheat grows in little fields…  Do what you do right thoroughly, pray over it heartily, and leave the result to God.  (Chapter 22)

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They say that man is the god of the dog, and if that is so, those men must be worse than dogs who will not listen to the voice of God, for a dog knows how to obey its master’s whistle. (Chapter 24)

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I would want everybody to be able to read, write, add, and subtract; indeed, I don’t think a person can know too much.  But the knowing of these things is not education.  There are millions of educated people who are as ignorant as a calf that does not know its own mother.  To know how to read and write is like having tools to work, but if you don’t use these tools, along with your eyes and your ears, you will be none the better off.  Everybody should know what most concerns him, and is used most by him.  If cats can catch mice and hens can lay eggs, they know what they need to know.  It is little use for a horse to know how to fly; it will do well enough if it can trot.  A man on a farm ought to learn all that belongs to farming, a blacksmith should study a horse’s foot, a dairymaid should be well up on skimming the milk and making the butter, and a homemaker should be a good scholar in the sciences of boiling and baking, washing and mending.  Those men and women who have not learn the duties of their callings are very ignorant people, even if they can tell the Greek name for a crocodile or write a poem about a black beetle.  It is too often very true that, “Jack has been to school, to learn to be a fool.”  (Chapter 24)

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James 1:22  —  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.

Colossians 3:23-24  —  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Proverbs 17:9  —  Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

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I am heartily sorry, and beg pardon for my sins; especially for my little respect and for wandering in my thoughts when in your presence; and for my continual infidelities to your graces; for all which I beg pardon, by the merits of the blood you shed for them.  Amen.
–Lady Lucy Herbert (1669-1744)