A friend of mine was traveling on a train once when five of the nine in the car began to play cards. They were evidently sharpers, and before long challenged others to play with them, but all declined. At last they turned to my friend and said, "We can see by your face that you fully understand the game. Come, take a turn."
"I did know the cards once; but it is so long since I played that I forget."
"Nonsense!" they said, "you could win all our money if you only tried."
"Perhaps that would not be very much," he replied, "anyway, I will not attempt. Five of you are enough for your game. We will look on."
As they still begged away at him, he at last said: "Gentlemen I tell you I cannot play, but there is one thing I can do."
"What is that?" they asked eagerly.
"I can tell fortunes."
"Great! Will you tell ours?"
"If you wish it, but I warn you it may not be very flattering."
"What card will you want?"
"The five of spades, please," and it was handed to him with expectation of great sport.
"I shall require one other thing, if you don't mind," he further said.
"What?" they asked a little impatiently.
They could not produce one.
"No, but you had one once," said the fortune-teller, "and if you had followed its precepts you would not be what you now are. However, I have one." To their dismay, he produced it. A pistol would hardly have been a more unwelcome object.
But the fortune-teller began: "Gentlemen, you see these two pips at the top of the card? I wish them to represent your two eyes; this one in the middle, your mouth; and these other two, your knees. Now, in Revelation 1:7, we read, 'Behold, he cometh with clouds and every eye shalI see him.' The speaker is the Nazarene once red with blood for sinners like you and me. The eyes are your eyes, that will see Him and stand before Him to be judged. That is the future of your eyes."
He continued, "Now concerning your mouth and knees let me read Philippians 2:9-11 'Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' From this I foretell that your knees will bow to Jesus, and your tongue will have to confess that He is Lord of all. Your eyes will see Him and when you see Him, your knees will grow weak and you will fall before His majesty."
They had already gotten more than they bargained for, but he continued. "Gentlemen that is only the first reading of this card. Now for the second, if you please. These five spades represent five actual spades that are already made and may, before long, dig the graves of you five sinners. Then your souls will be in hell crying in thirst for a drop of water and you will wish you had never been born."
The five card-sharpers were getting more and more fidgety, but it was useless, for they could not get out, as the train would not stop until it reached the city of Reading.
"Gentlemen," continued the fortune-teller, "you may escape this terrible future, and my fortune not come true if you will do what I did and I was no doubt worse than you all. My eyes saw Jesus dying upon a cross for me, in my stead, bearing my doom. My tongue confessed Him as Lord, and my knees bowed to Him in lowly submission. If you do this, I can foretell the very reverse of all I have said. I have told your fortunes, as I promised, and if I am right, you ought to cross my palm with a shilling apiece; but I do not wish your five shillings. I will be content if one of you will promise to trust the Saviour whose blood cleanseth from all sin." (1 John 1:7).
They would neither pay nor promise, and as the train pulled up at Reading they tumbled out as if the car contained a contagious disease, leaving my friend in possession of the five of spades.
"Stop," he cried, "here is your card," which he tossed after them.
Recently walking near his home at Shepherd's Bush, London, he was greeted by someone saying, "Good evening, sir."
"It is a good evening, if all your sins are forgiven," was the rejoinder.
"Yes, and I am glad you are still at it," replied the stranger.
"Still at what?"
"That is not my line."
"Well, you told mine more than ten years ago."
"I think you are mistaken," said my friend.
"No, anyone who has once seen you can never mistake you."
He then recalled the ride to Reading.
"Ah! I remember, and you left like a lot of cowards, without paying the fortune-teller."
"I am your payment. Your words came true of three of us. Three spades have dug their graves. The other one I saw at Reading a few days ago; he is anxious to be saved from the fortune you foretold, and is attending gospel meetings." As I parted with him I said, "Sam, don't forget the five of spades."
"And what about yourself?"
"When you saw me I had been to a sister's. I was miserable. Mother had just died. Calling me to her bedside, she had said, 'William, kiss your mother, and I leave you this Scripture: Behold he cometh with clouds and every eye shall see him. (Revelation 1:7).' When you quoted these very words, it seemed as if my dear mother rose up and frowned upon the cards. That text followed me. I drank and drank and drank again; but continually I heard, 'Every eye shall see him.' At last I went to California with the gold diggers. As soon as I landed, having nothing to do, I stopped to hear some singing. The singers formed a little procession and I followed to a mission. When the young man got up to speak, he gave out his text: 'Behold he cometh with clouds and every eye shall see him.' It was more than I could stand. That night I bowed my knees in submission, saw Jesus as my Saviour, and with my tongue confessed Him as Lord."
That one interview was good payment for the fortune-teller.
- W. L.
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouththe Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation . . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."