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  • CHARLES SPURGEON - THE SALT-CELLARS -
    PROVERBS & QUAINT SAYINGS -
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    YEARS know more than books, Yielding is sometimes the best way of succeeding.

    We may stoop and pick up victory. To yield a part for the sake of the whole is good economy. To yield one’s right is often better than the right. We may gain by kindly giving way.

    You a lady and I a lady, who’s to clean the saucepans?

    If everybody must be great, how will the common duties of life be performed? This is not a fit world for finery; yet people talk of their gentility. “Genteel it is to have soft hands, But not genteel to work on lands; Genteel it is to lie in bed, But not genteel to earn your bread.” YOU are not everybody in the world, and the man in the moon too.

    But many a man talks as if he were cock of the walk, and king of the castle. He and his friends are all the plums in the pudding: if they were gone, the rest would be the commonest duff. In men this blunder still you find:

    All think their little set mankind.

    You are rich if you want no more.

    You break my head, and then bring me a plaster.

    All very fine; but it would have been better if the wound had never been made. At the same time, if we have injured another accidentally, he ought not to resent our kindly endeavors to make amends. All we can say is: — “Take all in good part, whoever thou be, And wish me no worse than I wish unto thee.” You can break an egg without a sledge hammer.

    Why speak so fiercely when a gentle word will do?

    You can catch some old birds with chaff.

    Though a proverb declares that you cannot, it is very often done.

    The very knowing are often very silly.

    You can promise me, re in a minute that you can perform in a month.

    You cannot call back yesterday.

    You cannot climb a ladder by pushing others down.

    Some seem to imagine that if they lower another in public estimation, they thereby rise themselves. They are much mistaken.

    You cannot dig a well with a needle.

    Adapt your means to your end.

    You cannot draw a straight line with a crooked square. False doctrine will not produce good living.

    You cannot drink and whistle at the same time.

    The child said, “I want to go home to dinner, and I want to slop here and sail my boat.” Then he began to cry, because he could not have both his ways at once. We must not be so childish, but must give up one thing for another. Let us forego earth for heaven, and the praise of men for the glory of God.

    You cannot eat your cake and have it too.

    If the cake be eaten, it cannot be brought out to-morrow. If the food is saved, the children will not be fat and strong. We cannot have the thing in two forms. If you. spend money discreetly, there is the pleasure; if you save it frugally, there is the interest.

    You cannot fill a chest with grace, nor a heart with gold.

    You cannot get more out of a bottle than you put in it.

    That is an error. Besides what you put in, you can get out of it an aching head, a sick stomach, a lost situation, and perhaps a fine of five shillings, or a few days in prison.

    You cannot have a good pennyworth of bad ware.

    However ninny bad razors you buy, you can’t shave. However many rotten apples you get for your money, you can’t eat them.

    Yet cheapness is everything nowadays, and things are made to sell, for they say:- What is the worth of anything But how much money it will bring?

    You cannot have a sandwich all of meat, nor a life all holiday.

    You cannot have foreknowledge, but you should have forethought.

    You cannot have two mornings in the same day.

    Nor can, you expect to be youthful twice. Opportunities do not return. Use your morning lest you, have cause for mourning.

    You cannot know wine by the barrel..

    If men were honest you would, if you wanted to.

    You cannot make good broth without meat.

    Solid matter is required for the making of a good sermon.

    You cannot pull hard with a, broken rope.

    Nor do much with a gospel in which you do not behave.

    You cannot push a man far ‘up a tree.

    He must exert himself and climb by his own efforts. We can do very little for one who does not help himself, and he deserves even less than we can do.

    You cannot scold a man out of his sins.

    Let us try the gentler way, and see what can be done by prayerful, loving persuasion. Let’s find the sunny side of men, Or be believers in it:

    Wrath shuts the heart against the truth, But love will surely win it.

    You cannot swallow dates whole.

    The stone must be taken out, and the fruit masticated. So it is with what we hear: we must discern and divide.

    You cannot work in iron with a wooden file.

    To deal ‘with the sin of man you must have the solid, truth of revelation, and of God’s law, or you will labor for nothing.

    You can’t be lost on a straight road.

    I am not sure of this. Some seem to have the heavenly road right before their eyes, and they do not know it. Still the proverb is a good one,. in one sense. Keep straight in the straight road.

    You can’t burn the faggot and have it.

    To the same effect; is the other proverb, “You can’t keep a fire and keep the coal too.”

    You can’t catch a cow in a cobweb.

    Nor hold your heart to virtue by vows and promises mare in your own strength. Nor alter facts by sophistical arguments.

    You can’t catch hares with unwilling hounds.

    No hearts can be won by us unless we heartily desire it. Earnestness is in most things essential to success.

    You can’t draw a wagon with a hair.

    Things must be proportionate and adequate.

    You can’t drive a nail into nothing.

    Where there is no mind to retain your teaching, labor is lost.

    You can’t drown me in a spoonful of water.

    I am able to bear what little you can inflict.

    You can’t earn your breakfast by lying in bed, And if you won’t work, you shall not be fed.

    You can’t expect pippins from a crabtree.

    Nor figs from brambles: every man acts according to his nature.

    You can’t get good chickens from bad eggs.

    When the design is bad, we may not hope for good results from it.

    Bad doctrine wilt not produce good lives.

    You can’t hang soft cheese on a hook, nor drive a nail of wax.

    Some people are too limp for you to do anything with them.

    You can’t kick when your leg is off.

    When you have lost your power it is idle to threaten.

    You can’t lay eggs, so don’t cackle.

    He that cannot help should not criticize..

    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

    Nor tram a boor into a gentleman.

    You can’t make pork pies out of pig iron.

    You can’t pass a cope through a needle’s eye.

    You can’t shave a man’s head in his absence.

    You can’t sing the savageness out of a bear.

    You can’t steer too far off danger.

    You can’t swim across the Thames by hanging on to a dog’s tail.

    Nor can you attain great things by following mean means.

    You can’t tell a nut till you crack it.

    So the street-sellers say, “Try ‘era before you buy ‘em.” “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

    You can’t turn charcoal into chalk by a thousand washings.

    A change of nature is needed both in men and charcoal; and only a miracle can change one or the other.

    You carry fire in one hand, and water in the other. Blessing’ and cursing cannot both be kept; Fire in your right hand, water in your left.

    You come a day after the fair.

    You come of the MeTakes, but not of the MeGives.

    Always ready to absorb, but never willing to disperse. Who cares for you?

    You drink out of the broad end of the funnel, and hold the little one to me.

    You feed me with an empty spoon.

    You promise, and flatter, but you give me nothing.

    You have debts, and make debts still; If you’ve not lied, lie you will.

    Debtors make false promises, to put off pressure for payment. Debt is the death of truth; true men should hate it.

    You have hit once, but don’t always be shooting.

    You spoke well once: don’t be for ever speechifying. One venture has succeeded; but do not become the slave of speculation.

    You have kissed the Blarney Stone.

    Though never in Ireland, some men have learned the art of gammoning, and laying on butter with a trowel.

    You have less than you desire, but more than you deserve.

    Therefore, find contentment in the consideration of free grace.

    You have no more sense than a sucking turkey.

    A cutting speech fern downright simpleton. Some have not the sense they were born with you might pass them through a sieve, and never shake a dust of wit out of them.

    You have run long on little ground.

    How many talk without end, and all about nothing!

    You may be right, but do not fight.

    You may gape long before roast chicken will fly into your mouth.

    Chance and expectation lead to nothing. Earn what you ‘want.

    You may grow good corn in a little field.

    In a small sphere, ‘with slender abilities, one may achieve very noble results.

    You may hide the fire, but not the smoke.

    Your action may not be seen, but the consequence will appear. You may be quiet yourself, but people will talk.

    You may hold an eel so fast as to let it go.

    You may judge a girl by her mother.

    For the daughter is very apt to copy the mother, and she is very seldom an improvement upon her. Now, young man, before you court her, From the mother learn the daughter.

    You may know a foolish woman by her finery.

    The silly woman lives at the sign of “The Flowery Banner.”

    You may live, but you must die.

    The proverb, “Young men may die, but old men must,” has another shade of meaning. This applies to all alike: “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Prepare for the necessity of death, and you will be prepared for the contingency of living: It would be a huge calamity if we were bound for ever to remain in this poor life. “I couldn’t live for ever; I wouldn’t if I could; But I needn’t fret about it, For I couldn’t if I would.” You may lose in an hour the ‘work of a lifetime.

    One false move throws away the game. A whole life-story may hinge upon the transactions of an hour.

    You may milk a cow too often.

    The most generous person may be worried into refusing to give at all. A man cannot always be giving. You may milk the cow oftener than is right, but yea won’t get any the more milk.

    You may walk a long time behind a goose before you will pick up an ostrich feather.

    And listen a long time to some talkers before you hear anything worth remembering.

    You must contrive to bake witch the flour you have.

    If you cannot get all the materials you wish, you must work up those which are given you, and make the best of them.. Be the flour what it may, let the bread-making be as good as good can be.

    You must not throw your snails into your neighbor’s garden.

    You must put up with a great deal if you would put down a great deal.

    The reformer must endure a world of misrepresentation, dis-. appointment and enmity. You cannot ‘vanquish “the armies of the aliens” without warfare and wounds. This work is for brave hearts only. “What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted? let him go and return unto his house.” — Deuteronomy 20:8.

    You must spoil before you spin.

    In learning any art we must expect some failures. Every speaker has his break downs, as every potter has his broken pots.

    You must take all the Bible or none.

    It stands or fails together. He to whom it belongs will no more yield to its being divided, than the true mother, in Solomon’s day, would consent to the dividing of the living child.

    You mustn’t tie up a hound with a string of sausages.

    To try to check sin by a measure of indulgence in it is absurd..

    You need iron nails to fight with a bear.

    In such a conflict, hard must meet hard; and as we are not thus fashioned, we shun the contest with hard, unfeeling men.

    You need not jump over the house to open the window.

    Do not exert yourself more than is needed to effect your purpose.

    To accept a great and useful truth, it is not needful to become an all-knowing philosopher, and solve the secret of the unconditioned and the absolute.

    You need not provide frogs for the well you have dug.

    Nor mice for your barley-mow. They will come naturally. Neither need you instruct young men. in vices, nor girls in follies.

    You need not teach a bull to bellow.

    That which nature teaches of itself you need not inculcate.

    You plough with an ox that will not miss a furrow.

    A good, careful, painstaking worker shirks nothing.

    You pour water into a sieve.

    When you give to a spendthrift, or invest in speculative companies.

    In trying to help shiftless ne’er-do-wells it is much the same.

    You trust a great weight to a Slender thread.

    Especially if you trust your soul to a priest, or risk eternity on an uncertain to-morrow.

    You want a little licking into shape.

    It was the belief of the older naturalists that bears lick their whelps into proper form while they are yet young and tender. This is a fable; but it illustrates rite duty of parents to fashion, the crude mind; and it also shows how Providence does, in very deed, “shape our ends, rough-hew them. how we will.”

    You want better bread than wheaten.

    And better milk than cows can give. Some are never satisfied.

    You were put out of the oven for nipping the pies. Hislop parallels this with the charge which a vulgar street boy ‘brought against another: — “You was put out of the work us for eating the number’ off your plate.”

    You will find critics to be as common as crickets.

    Fellows who cannot write a line will criticize a poem. Once a critic was a good judge; but now he is simply an unmerciful fault-finder, two steps above a feel, but a great many below a wise man. Alas! that, in reference to Holy Scripture, we should be pestered with fellows who criticize’ things which they cannot understand. For truth is precious and divine; Too rich a pearl for carnal swine.

    You will never please everybody.

    Remember the fable of “The Old Man and his Ass.” If you please God always, and your wife generally, be quite content.

    You will not be loved yourself if you love none but yourself.

    You would talk a horse’s hind leg off.

    Or chatter a cat to death, or beat a magpie into fits. A dearth of words we need not fear; But ‘tis a task to learn to hear.

    You’d do well in Lubberland, where they have half-acrown a day for sleeping.

    That is to say, you are a lazy fellow, not worth your salt.

    You’ll find it true, The morning new Gives healthy hue.

    It would be advisable to get up early and see if it be not; so. It is due to the dew that we duly give it a fair trial.

    You’ll not put out the fire with tow.

    Nor stay anger with provoking’ words.

    You’re in and. out, like a dog at a fair’.

    Said of a person who seems to be everywhere, and especially where he is not wanted.

    You’re worse than a brute if you treat brutes cruelly.

    None of my readers would do this himself; but it is also our duty never to let others do it without a vigorous protest.

    Young idlers become old thieves.

    Young people, like soft wax, soon take an impression. “Ere your boy has reached to seven.

    Teach him well the way to heaven; Better still the work will thrive, If he learns before he’s five.” Your choice of a wife will flavor your life.

    Your dirty shoes are not welcome in my parlor. You are welcome, but not those boots which spoil my carpets.

    Your geese are not swans.

    They are ordinary birds after all. Do not exaggerate, lest people should say, “He has a deal of thunder, and very little rain.”

    Your head should save your heels.

    Your own legs are better than stilts.

    If you depend upon yourself, you will do better than if you get help from others. It also means that the natural is better than the artificial. Let the speaker use his own voice, manner, and matter, and they will suit him far better than those he imitates.

    Your shoes will not fit everybody..

    Nor your ways, methods, and beliefs, suit all people. Do not try to force them upon others.

    Your talk travels on, and on, and on; and yet it goes no further than all round the gooseberry bush.

    Your wit will never worry you.

    Very few need fret on that score.

    Youth’s too hot and hold; Age too weak and cold.

    SAYINGS OF A MORE SPIRITUAL SORT.

    Yokes are good for youthful shoulders. As with young bullock newly broke, Our neck must learn to bear the yoke.

    You can be an honest man and not a Christian; but you cannot be a Christian and not be an honest man.

    You cannot wrestle with God, and wrangle with your neighbor.

    You have only one soul, give, it to your one Savior.

    You may have much in little where others have little in much.

    A man’s life consists not in what he possesses; fitness and content are all important. A little hearth best fits a little fire, A little chapel fits a little choir, My little bell best tits my little spire.

    You must be divorced from the law to be married to Christ.

    Yet some would be both under law and gospel at the same time: but the double marriage is contrary both to law and gospel. If it be of works, it cannot be of grace.

    Your trust, is worthy when you trust the trust-worthy.

    Look well to the ground of your faith, that it be strong enough to bear up your soul. Little pillars, it is plain, Cannot heavy weights sustain.

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