The Meal and Cruse of Oil
By the poor widow’s oil and meal
Elijah was sustained;
Though small the stock, it lasted well,
For GOD the store maintained.
It seemed as if from day to day,
They were to eat and die;
But still, though in a secret way,
He sent a fresh supply.
Thus to his poor he still will give
Just for the present hour;
But for tomorrow they must live
Upon his word and power.
No barn or storehouse they possess
On which they can depend;
Yet have no cause to fear distress,
For Jesus is their friend.
Then let not doubts your mind assail,
Remember God has said,
“The cruse and barrel shall not fail,
My people shall be fed.”
And thus though faint it often seems,
He keeps their grace alive;
Supplied by his refreshing streams,
Their dying hopes revive.
Though in ourselves we have no stock,
The Lord is nigh to save;
His door flies open when we knock,
And ’tis but ask and have.
from John Newton's Diary, relevant to this hymn:
Monday 27 November 1775
I praise thee O Lord for a comfortable entrance upon another [week], and help afforded in the services of yesterday. May thy blessing make them useful. Thanks for good news from Scotland – thou hast shown both thy sovereignty and grace in Mr Cunningham’s family [brother-in-law]. Thou hast a right to do what pleaseth. I trust my sister knows thy salvation. A letter from Mr Samuel Thornton gave me great pleasure; he writes sensibly and solidly, more so than could well be expected from his standing. What a mercy is this to himself, to his father [John Thornton], and designed by thee I trust to be a mercy to many.
Wednesday 29 November 1775
I felt straitened in speaking last night at the Great House, from the character of By-ends, yet I hope O Lord thou wast graciously present with us. I thought we were favoured with a spirit of prayer. O excite and increase in us desires of spirituality and devotedness to Thee, that we may be lively, obedient and cheerful. Mr Samuel Thornton has sent for Richard Newman . O that as thy providence brought him unexpectedly under my care, he may find thy blessing. Hitherto he seems blind and thoughtless. Lord give him grace and wisdom that I may hear well of him. Accept of thanks for health restored to my family. Thou hast relieved me by thy goodness to my child. Lord do thou bless her, and preserve us at home, and my Dear and Sally abroad, that we may meet in peace to praise thy name. Much of yesterday taken up with J Goode , who came to advise with me. Lord I hope I gave him my best disinterested[unbiased] advice; do thou cause all to work for good.
Saturday 2 December 1775
[re Thursday lecture:] 2 Corinthians 6:10 [as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.]
Lord help me to praise thee for thy mercies afforded through another week to me and mine, for thou hast again given me to hear well from my dear. I thank thee for enabling me to preach thy word on Thursday with liberty to myself, and acceptance to several of thy people. Last night I found my spirit uneasy, but O how comfortable the thought, that all is in thy hand. I found reason to be ashamed, that surrounded as I am with blessings, a comparatively small trial should discompose me. I know thou dost all things well – Why then am I not satisfied? I know thou dealest gently with me – Why then am I not thankful? The thought of Sally being sent home and my Dear left, gave me this disturbance. If it please thee I wish them to stay, and to come home together. I entreat thee to give me patience and submission to thy will. Thou knowest my situation, and I trust will send them to me at the best time. And O that this may be a teaching dispensation to me, and that I may be humbled for the reasons present to my mind, why thou mightest justly have appointed me a final separation from her, whose temporary absence is no small trial.
Yesterday I saw off R Newman. Lord I would follow him with my prayers for thy blessing, that the design of my friend in his favour may be answered, and this providence of putting him under my care, may issue in his good. Teach him to fear thee and then he will do well. My family is now in health and peace. I have been waiting upon thee for a blessing on tomorrow. O for a word in season, an enlarged heart, and thy blessing in preaching. And O favour us with thy presence at thy table.
[Sunday 3 December 1775]
Ephesians 4:18 [or 5:18 - overwritten]
Hymn No. 226
[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]