The manna, favoured Israel’s meat,
Was gathered day by day;
When all the host was served, the heat
Melted the rest away.
In vain to hoard it up they tried,
Against tomorrow came;
It then bred worms and putrefied,
And proved their sin and shame.
’Twas daily bread, and would not keep,
But must be still renewed;
Faith should not want a hoard or heap,
But trust the LORD for food.
The truths by which the soul is fed,
Must thus be had afresh;
For notions resting in the head,
Will only feed the flesh.
However true, they have no life
Or unction to impart;
They breed the worms of pride and strife,
But cannot cheer the heart.
Nor can the best experience past,
The life of faith maintain;
The brightest hope will faint at last,
Unless supplied again.
Dear LORD, while we in prayer are found,
Do thou the manna give;
Oh! let it fall on all around,
That we may eat and live.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Tuesday 18 November 1777
Made a beginning of an intended plan of writing some letters with a view to conciliatory peace amongst contending professors. But believe the beginning must be begun again. My views and thoughts seemed quite contracted, and what I wrote forced and stiff. I think the attempt might be seasonable, and that it[in] some respects it may come with propriety from me. My Lord, if it be thy pleasure to do then furnish me with light and thoughts.
Sunday 23 November 1777
News of the death of Mr Wilberforce, and that he died in peace. Thou didst break his bands, and smile upon his last hours. His late distress was a striking instance of thy truth Luke 12:15. Immediately upon a large accession to his fortune, he lost all relish for temporal comforts, sunk into a dreadful dejection of spirits, and was a burden to himself and to all around him. But now he is happy. Wrote to her on the occasion. [evening informal service:] 2 Timothy 1:12 [For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.]
Monday 24 November 1777
I am now retired for an hour or two in the evening. My mind is crowded with the design mentioned Tuesday last, but I cannot yet find how to begin. Lord without thee I can do nothing. Do thou inspire and instruct me, and give all I want for the performance, and then thy blessing upon it.
Tuesday 25 November 1777
Resumed my purposed work under a new form. I feel my insufficiency to execute anything, except thou my Lord art pleased to inspire and enable me. May I attempt all in faith, with a view to thy glory, and the peace of thy people, and suffer me not I pray thee to write a line in a wrong spirit.
Saturday 29 November 1777
My soul would now wait on thee for a blessing – that I may meet thee tonight in my retirement, and be filled with thy Spirit tomorrow in public. Give me bodily strength to go through the several services as I have one extraordinary to attend at Clifton – and grant me suitable messages to the several congregations, for thou knowest the hearts and states of all who will be present. O for liberty of speech, usefulness to others, and communion with thee in my own soul.
Sunday 30 November 1777
A busy day, having undertaken to preach at Clifton between our services – but thou wert near to support and supply. In the morning I had not a single subject in view. Lord I am empty indeed but O the happiness of feeling some dependence upon thee, and of receiving out of thy fullness in measure and in season, as services and occasions occur. Surely this is the more excellent way, and better than hoarding up upon paper or in the memory, notions of truth which are apt to breed the worms of self-admiration, and self-dependence. I conceive a ripeness in ministerial abilities, to consist much in a gracious power of trusting in thee, for a readiness to bring out things new and old, that shall be suitable to the subject and the auditory.
Psalm 27:14 [Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord]
1 Corinthians 6:11
[Clifton] Proverbs 3:17
Hymn No. 288
[On this date Newton preached from the above texts at his church, St Peter & St Paul, Olney, during the morning and afternoon services, and from this hymn at the informal evening service]