Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.” So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord. —1 Chronicles 15:13-15
It was a right thing in David to wish to bring up the ark, but perhaps he was ignorant of the way to bring it, and see what inconvenience he had to suffer: the ark was jolted, the oxen shook it. Now if you are not clear as to the plan of salvation, you will have many jottings, much shaking, many doubts, many fears. Let me ask and intreat you, then, to search the Scriptures; for in therein ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Christ; and let me beg you to endeavor, by God’s help, ever to keep in your mind a clear view of the fact, that you are to be saved, if saved at all, by trusting in Jesus Christ, and in Jesus Christ alone. The plan of salvation is, “Trust in Jesus.” Make mistakes about other things, you will suffer inconvenience; but make a mistake here, and it will be fatal to you. Methinks I hear some man saying, “Sir, I have longed to be saved, but I am still uneasy and troubled in my mind, I think if I were to do good works, and then to save myself by them, I might trust in Christ.” Stand back, Uzzah, stand back, thou art about to touch the ark of God, beware, lest thou shouldst die while thou art doing it other mistakes will make you uneasy; that mistake will be fatal to you. Touch the atonement of Jesus Christ, and there is no salvation if you touch it with a legal hand, seeking to add to it your own self righteousness.
“None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.”
He wants no help from you; leave him to do it all; take him as he is, and go to him just as you are; do not seek to bring anything, but go as you are, and you will be saved. Seek to help Christ, and saved you cannot be. Until you have done with that thought, you must abide in your sorrow, and in your death. No mixing with Jesus; he never came to be a make-weight. Christ must be all, and you must be nothing at all. If you attempt to patch his perfect robe that robe shall never cover your nakedness. It is begemmed with jewels; put one paste jewel of yours upon it, and it is not yours. You must have a whole Christ, and nothing but Christ. You know the old proverb, “Betwixt the two stools he came to the ground.” When a man hopes to rely partly on Christ, and partly on himself, he will come to the ground with a vengeance. Rest on Jesus simply, and you are saved; rest on Christ and self, and you are like Uzzah, you have touched the ark, you have sought to mingle man’s works with God’s works, man’s merits with Christ’s merits; and tremble, lest the wrath of God should come forth against you, and destroy you.
But after all, my dear friends, you have no merits. Christ freely offers himself to you, if you will take him for nothing. You thought to buy him with your merits. Why you have no merits. Shall I tell you a little parable which shall show you your position. There was a rich man who had a generous heart, and once upon a time he resolved to give a large estate to a poor neighbor, so he sent for him, and said, “My friend, I am willing to give you a large estate for nothing.” The man felt grateful and retired home, but as he lay in his bed he thought, “I should like that estate, but I should not like to be beholden to anybody for it; I think I will pay for it.” So he set out the next morning with a heavy bag on his back, and when he came to the rich man’s door and the friend came out, he said, “Sir, I value your estate very highly; you promised to let me have it for nothing, but I do not want to be obliged to you, so I have brought a bag all full of gold to buy it with.” The rich man said, “I never offered to sell it to you; I said I would give it to you; but come, let us look at your bag of gold.” So the poor man opened wide the mouth of the sack; he blushed and stammered, and said, “Oh sir, be not angry with me; now I come to look at it; it is nothing but a bag of silver.” The friend said, “Look at it again.” He looked again and blushed, and cried, “Let not my lord be angry, but I find it is nothing but a bag of copper.” “Look once more,” said he. He looked once more into it, and he fell down on his knees, and said, “Forgive me, forgive me; I find, sir, it is a bag of filth. You see I have brought you a bag of filth with which to buy your rich estate.” You know the meaning of that parable, do you not? You have brought to God what you thought were good works, golden works; look at them you will see them pale before you, and you will say, “My Lord, they are not so good as I thought they were, they are only silver works after all.” Look at them again, and they will become dirty, frown, copper works. “Oh!” say you, “they are not worth more than a farthing now.” Look again, and you will see that your prayers, your tears, your good works, are nothing better than filth after all. They are only another form of sin, another shape of iniquity. Oh! sinner, take Christ as he is; take him now, just as thou art. The gospel is just this—trust Christ and you are saved. Rely on what he did, and you are delivered. Just leave off trusting to any ceremonies, to any doctrines, to any forms, to any works, but rely on Jesus and you are saved.