I am pleased to recommend a book to you. The Complete John Ploughman is a combined addition of Charles Spurgeon’s John Ploughman’s Talk and John Ploughman’s Pictures. In the book, Spurgeon demonstrates he’s not just a great orator, but a fabulous word smith in the vernacular. He kind of puts it on the bottom shelf for you while he gets all up in your grill, ya know?
In the preface, Spurgeon writes, “In John Ploughman’s Talk, I have tried to talk for ploughmen and common people. Hence refined taste and dainty words have been discarded for strong old proverbial expressions and homely phrases.” The topics are by subject and deal primarily with the vices of everyday living. I have found this book a helpful companion in personal holiness and childrearing as the word pictures are so vivid that simple minds are able to grasp weighty concepts with ease. There’s also a variety of whimsical pictures throughout. And for preaching it is a veritable treasure trove of sermon illustrations.
Here’s a snippet from the chapter “You may bend the sapling, but not the tree.”
Ladder, and pole, and cord will be of no use to straighten the bent tree; it should have been looked after much earlier. Train trees when they are saplings and young lads before the down comes on their chins. Begin early to teach, for children begin early to sin. Catch them young and you may hope to keep them. What is learned young is learned for life. What we hear at the first we remember to the last. The bent twig grows up a crooked tree.
When a boy is rebellious, conquer him, and do it well the first time, that there may be no need to do it again. A child’s first lesson should be obedience, and after that you may teach it what you please: yet the young mind must not be laced too tight, or you may hurt its growth and hinder its strength. They say a daft nurse makes a wise child, but I do not believe it: nobody needs so much common sense as a mother or a governess. It does not do to be always thwarting; and yet remember if you give a child his will and a whelp his fill, both will surely turn out ill. A child’s back must be made to bend, but it must not be broken. He must be ruled, but not with a rod of iron. His spirit must be conquered, but not crushed.