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Spurgeon's Practical Wisdom: Plain Advice for Plain People

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It has sometimes been said that Christians are ‘too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use’. While that may apply to some, it could never be said of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Spurgeon combined heavenly mindedness with zeal to improve the lot of ordinary people. At the height of his ministry there were dozens of enterprises associated with his Metropolitan Tabernacle that served the spiritual and practical needs of men and women, boys and girls.

Although Spurgeon is best remembered as a gospel preacher, he was also a gifted writer. Under the not so well disguised pseudonym of ‘john Ploughman’, a wise old country farm worker, Spurgeon penned a number of humorous articles on topical subjects for his monthly magazine The Sword and the Trowel. ‘I have somewhat indulged the mirthful vein, but ever with so serious a purpose that I ask no forgiveness’, he wrote. In these articles he ‘aimed blows at the vices of the many’ and tried to inculcate ‘those moral virtues without which men are degraded.’ His efforts met with great success. When later published, John Ploughman’s Talk and John Ploughman’s Pictures were an instant hit with sales of these two volumes exceeding 600,000 in the author’s own lifetime. In homes throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain Spurgeon’s practical wisdom on subjects such as alcohol, debt, anger, temptation, cruelty, and the family home, were heeded and cherished. In the preface to John Ploughman’s Pictures, he was able to write: ‘John Ploughman’s Talk has not only obtained an immense circulation, but it has exercised an influence for good. Although its tone is rather moral than religious, it has led many to take the first steps by which men climb to better things.’

This fine edition of Spurgeon’s Practical Wisdom, which also includes all of the illustrations from the original two volumes, will surely enrich many a Christian home and be treasured by a new generation of readers.

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Table of Contents: 

  John Ploughman’s Talk  
  Preface vii
  To the Idle 1
  On Religious Grumblers 11
  On the Preacher’s Appearance 17
  On Good Nature and Firmness 21
  On Patience 29
  On Gossips 33
  On Seizing Opportunities 37
  On Keeping One’s Eyes Open 41
  Thoughts about Thought 45
  Faults 49
  Things Not Worth Trying 53
  Debt 57
  Home 67
  Men Who Are Down 75
  Hope 81
  Spending 87
  A Good Word for Wives 93
  Men with Two Faces 103
  Hints As To Thriving 109
  Tall Talk 117
  Things I Would Not Choose 125
  Try 129
  Monuments 135
  Very Ignorant People 141
  If the Cap Fits Wear It 151
  Burn a Candle at Both Ends . . . 155
  Hunchback Sees Not His Own Hump . . . 159
  It Is Hard for an Empty Sack To Stand Upright 163
  He Who Would Please All Will Lose His Donkey 169
  All Are Not Hunters That Blow the Horn 173
  A Hand-saw Is a Good Thing, but Not To Shave with 177
  Don’t Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face 181
  He Has a Hole under His Nose . . . 185
  Every Man Should Sweep before His Own Door 193
  Scant Feeding of Man or Horse . . . 197
  Never Stop the Plough to Catch a Mouse 203
  A Looking-glass Is of No Use to a Blind Man 207
  He has Got the Fiddle, but Not the Stick 213
  Great Cry and Little Wool . . . 215
  You May Bend the Sapling, but not the Tree 219
  A Man May Love His House . . . 223
  Great Drinkers Think Themselves Great Men 229
  Two Dogs Fight for a Bone . . . 235
  He Lives under the Sign of the Cat’s Foot 237
  He Would Put His Finger in the Pie . . . 243
  You Can’t Catch the Wind in a Net 247
  Beware of the Dog 251
  Like Cat like Kit 259
  A Horse which Carries a Halter is Soon Caught 263
  An Old Fox Is Shy of a Trap 267
  A Black Hen Lays a White Egg 271
  He Looks One Way and Pulls the Other 273
  Stick to It and Do It 275
  Don’t Put the Cart before the Horse 283
  A Leaking Tap is a Great Waster 287
  Fools Set Stools for Wise Men to Stumble Over 293
  A Man in a Passion Rides a Horse . . . 295
  Where the Plough Shall Fail To Go . . . 299
  All Is Lost that Is Poured into a Cracked Dish 303
  Grasp All and Lose All 307
  Scatter and Increase 309
  Every Bird Likes Its Own Nest 313



C. H. Spurgeon (1834-92), the great Victorian preacher, was one of the most influential people of the second half of the 19th Century. He was a famous British preacher and pastor for 38 years of New Park Street Chapel, later called the Metropolitan Tabernacle. At the heart of his desire to preach was a fierce love of people, a desire that meant he did not neglect his pastoral ministry.