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Showing posts from July, 2015

The Two-fold Aspect of God’s Kingdom (Witsius)

Posted at the Reformed Reader: See book here . In Reformed church history, theologians have generally made a distinction when it came to discussing God’s kingdom or kingdoms. Simply put, historic Reformed theology distinguished between God’s general kingdom (his kingdom of power/nature) and God’s saving kingdom (his kingdom of grace/glory). Here’s how Herman Witsius spoke about this distinction in his discussion on the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer: Thy kingdom come. The kingdom of God must be viewed by us in a twofold aspect, as universal and as special. I use the phrase, universal kingdom, to express his boundless greatness, majesty, authority, and power over all. “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” This is the kingdom to which the sun with all the stars, the sea with her waves, the winds with all their tempestuous fury, the seasons of the year with their various changes, the alternate returns of day and night, all t

Heidelberg 103: The Christian Sabbath (Parts 1 & 2)

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog: If there was a time when the church needed to stop its business, to rest, to worship, and to set aside time for the care of the poor in their midst, that time is now. At no time in its history has the church been so distracted, pulled in so many competing and contradictory directions and so alienated from the creational and redemptive pattern as it is today. That is a large claim but that it is reasonable appears with just a little knowledge of history. Prior to the industrial age, the world operated largely on an agrarian schedule. Farmers work hard but the pace of life is typically a little slower in rural, agrarian cultures than it is in urban and suburban culture. An agrarian culture is naturally (no pun intended) more in sync with natural patterns. The rise of the industrial age put a great strain on the creational pattern and the post-industrial age might have offered some relief but for the natural inclination of fallen hum

Tried but Loved

By Rev. Colin Mercer - Posted at "As Nero’s persecution of Christians increased, many of them were made to wear animal skins and were then torn to pieces by dogs. Some were smothered in oil and set on fire to serve as light for his garden parties. Others were nailed to crosses and many of them were simply done to death to please the emperor. ..." It’s impossible to read Peter’s doctrinal and dynamic epistle and not be struck by the fact that he sought to encourage, comfort, and minister to believers who were going through a time of incredible suffering! This letter was written in and around that period in history when Christians were particularly hated. During the reign of the Emperor Nero, things became almost intolerable for the followers of Christ. Nero has been described as a “monster of wickedness and one of the vilest men ever to occupy a throne.” He is probably best remembered as the man “who fiddled while Rome burned.” But there is much more

Moses Waddell [1770-1840] - Teaching a Nation’s Leaders

Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History: Moses Waddell (Wikipedia) "In The Great Doctor Waddell , by Dr. James McLeod, the author provides a compilation of the students educated under Waddell. The list includes two Vice-Presidents, three Secretaries of State, three Secretaries of War, one Assistant Secretary of War, one US Attorney-general, Ministers to France, Spain and Russia, one US Supreme Court Justice, eleven governors, seven US Senators, thirty two members of the US House of Representatives, twenty two judges, eight college presidents, seventeen editors of newspapers or authors, five members of the Confederate Congress, two bishops, three Brigadier-generals, and one authentic Christian martyr." Considered by many to have been the foremost educator in the South, Moses Waddell was of Irish parentage and was born in Rowan (now Iredell) county, North Carolina, on July 29th, 1770 . He received his academic education at a school which was opened in the neighborho

Considering Christ

By Rev. Colin Mercer - Posted at When John Huss was being put to death he was led to the suburbs of Constance to be burned at the stake. When he reached the place, wearing the paper “cap of blaspheme” he fell on his knees and began to chant Psalm 31. He looked steadfastly towards heaven and chanted verse 5: “Into thy hands O Lord! Do I commit my spirit, Thou hast redeemed me, O most good and faithful God.” When he finished quoting those words his persecutors put a chain around his waist and tied him to the stake. Huss responded to the chain with these words: “My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake; why then should I be ashamed of this old rusty one?” It is good to understand what John Huss was saying. In the midst of fierce and fatal persecution he lifted his thoughts heavenward and contemplated the greater suffering Christ had endured for him. ... Read more here...

Gladiator Games, Abortion, and the Early Church (Athenagoras)

Posted at The Reformed Reader: Just over a week ago I highlighted a section from Athenagoras (an early Christian apologist from the end of the 2nd century AD) in which he defended Christian morality since many were accusing Christians of immorality. Specifically, Athenagoras said Christian sexual ethics were much better than those of non-Christians, since Christians upheld purity in marriage and avoided homosexuality. You can read the article here . In the same context, Athenagoras also explained how Christians detested all sorts of cruelty, abuse, and bloodshed. Apparently some had accused Christians of being murderers and cannibals because of the Lord’s Supper (eating/drinking the body/blood of Jesus), so Athenagoras refuted the accusation as completely untrue. The truth is, he said, that Christians are against brutality and murder: “[Which Roman citizen] does not reckon among the things of greatest interest the contests of gladiators and wild beasts, especially those w

Rev. James Wilson Moore [1797-1873]

By David T. Myers - Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History: Father of Arkansas Presbyterianism It is hard to believe that at one time in this country, Arkansas was considered to be mission territory. But that was exactly the way that it was, when James Wilson Moore was appointed after his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary to go there as a Presbyterian missionary. It was still not a state, but a territory. Moore, who had been born in 1797, was sent there by the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, to develop the church in that territory. In the whole town of Little Rock, with a population of 150 people, there were only three whites and three blacks professing Christ as Savior. Read more here...

Heaven and Home

By Pastor Bob McEvoy - Posted at The Salty Scrivener: John 14:1-6, Rev. 15:1-4 In our recent lecture on heaven, we have seen that the soul of the Christian goes immediately to heaven at death. There are two aspects of heaven that I want to bring to your attention this morning:- 1. Heaven is Our True Home! Jesus had been speaking of His imminent departure, of His crucifixion, and the disciples were in a sombre frame of mind. They must have wondered what would become of them! They were deeply disturbed! Jesus said to them: Let not your heart be troubled They were cheerless and miserable, because He would soon be gone, and three years of life spent together on the road would soon be ended! They were embarrassed and humiliated, because of their own selfishness and pride, for they had been arguing among themselves about who would get the prominent places when He came into His kingdom! They were confused and bewildered, because they had just been told that one of them would b

Christ: The Banner of all Christendom

By Archibald G. Brown, December 5th, 1869, Stepney Green Tabernacle, Excerpt from My Banner - Posted at Grace Gems: "And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it  Jehovah Nissi .  [The LORD is My Banner]" Exodus 17:15 II. Christ as our Banner, is the Banner of all Christendom. On this part of our subject I desire to speak with the greatest plainness, as I am confident that here many mistakes are made. "Jehovah Nissi" is no mere sectarian or denominational flag — but the royal ensign of a royal host. No one sect can claim it as its own, to the exclusion of others. It belongs equally to all who have been called to the "good fight," no matter to what portion of the militant host they may belong. Do not think for a moment that I would advocate the surrender of our party colors, or plead for the extinction of denominations. Such a thing is an impossibility, and even if it could he accomplished, I would be sorry to see it done. An army is none

Jenny Geddes - The Day of Small Beginnings

Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History: Drawing from three separate quotations, we have in short compass the story of Jenny Geddes and her little wooden stool, which God used to bring about a revolution and a return to biblical truth. Two years ago, while walking about in Old St. Giles’ church in Edinburgh, with Dr. W. G. Blaikie, whose fame as author, scholar, and preacher, is known throughout the Presbyterian Church, he said, ― this is the first time I have been here in seventeen years. And yet this is the church in which Knox preached and Jennie Geddes worshipped. Here she threw the famous stool at the head of the Dean who was reading the liturgy, under orders from King Charles. The outburst of popular indignation, occasioned by this act, was the beginning of the great struggle for religious liberty in Scotland. Read more here...

God and Governments

By Rev. Colin Mercer - Posted at Reading: 1 Peter 2:13-15 I write these words at a time when there is much discussion about politics and governments. Civil authorities are in the public mind. Politicians are vying for prominence and many talk about changing legalisation and overturning majorities. In the political turmoil that exists in many countries we can be thankful that scripture has something to say on this subject. Consider the following: God is the sovereign and supreme ruler of this world. While scripture speaks of kings and governors this does not suggest that men are the supreme governors of the world. God is the sovereign ruler of all men. He controls all things and rules all things in heaven and earth. Civil government is a divine institution. Civil government is part of God’s sovereign providence. This does not mean that every ruler is godly; what it does mean is that God, in His sovereignty, raises one up and pulls down another. In this sense

Word of Warning

By Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser - Posted at Mountains and Magnolias: The Prophet Amos warned of a day when there would be a famine upon the land of Israel. It was not going to be one like Israel had seen in the days of Joseph where the people were starving from a lack of grain, but a famine where the Word of the LORD would be scarce and men and women would find themselves longing for spritual food, yet not being able to find it because they sought it from dead idols. This was partially fulfilled in the days of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He dealt with this problem after the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6. The people had the Word of the Bread of Life in their presence yet longed for the worldy bread that became moldy and stale rather than resting in the blessed nourishment of the good spiritual food of Christ. They did this because in God’s holy wrath He had blinded their eyes from the Truth. In that same chapter in John’s gospel you hear Christ speak of the eternal mercy of Go

Calvin on the Lord’s Prayer

Posted at Reiterations: "The first petition is, 'Hallowed by Your name.' The necessity of presenting it bespeaks our great disgrace. For what can be more unbecoming than that our ingratitude and malice should impair, and that our audacity and petulance should, as much as in them lies, destroy the glory of God? But, though all the ungodly should burst with sacrilegious rage, the holiness of God’s name still shines forth. Justly does the psalmist exclaim, 'As Your name, O God, so Your praise reaches to the end of the earth' (Psalm 48.10). For wherever God has made Himself known, His perfections must be displayed: His power, goodness, wisdom, justice, mercy, and truth – which fill us with admiration and incite us to show forth His praise. "Therefore, as the name of God is not duly hallowed on the earth, and we are otherwise unable to assert it, it is, at least, our duty to make it the subject of our prayers. ..." Read more here...

Biblical Images and the Importance of the Church Part 1: The Building of Christ namely the Temple

Posted at The Domain for Truth: Purpose: In this series will see three analogies that God’s Word use to describe the importance of the Church with today specifically being that God sees the Church as His Building, that is, the Temple so that we too will see the importance of Church in our life. God sees the church as the Building of God, the Temple 1. Proof 1. The Jews believe in the importance of the Temple in Jerusalem for their faith and piety with God. It was the center of their religious life. 2. Yet Jesus taught that “ an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father ” (John 4:21) Read more here...  See also: Biblical Images and the Importance of the Church Part 2: The Body of Christ (Domain for Truth)

The Early Church on Homosexuality

Posted at Reformed Reader: In the days of the early church – I’m thinking specifically of the 2nd century – Christian apologists had to defend the faith against false charges, accusations, and misrepresentations. One such apologist, Athenagoras (d. 200 AD?), wrote a booklet to Roman rulers called A Plea for the Christians . This apology by Athenagoras is still quite relevant today because it discusses things we still talk about today. I’ll come back to this booklet later, but for now I want to point out what this 2nd century Christian apologist said about sexual immorality and homosexuality. Athenagoras refuted the claim or accusation that Christians were very sexually impure compared to non-Christian Roman citizens. He said Christian spouses – man and wife – were committed to one another and instructed to avoid and detest adultery while the same could not be said of the Romans. He also argued that Christians avoided and detested homosexuality. As Athenagoras introduced t

This Day in Presbyterian History: Samuel Finley [1715-1766]

By David T. Myers Injurious to Your Health It was downright unhealthy to be the president of the College of New Jersey (today’s Princeton University) in the opening years of that educational institution. In the first nine years of its existence, five presidents were installed and five presidents were on the short list to heaven! That fifth president was Samuel Finley. Born in Scotland in 1715, Samuel Finley came over to the colonies at age nineteen. He studied theology at the celebrated Log College under the Tennents, was ordained into the New Brunswick Presbytery as a revivalist preacher. He was clearly a New Side Presbyterian. Assigned first to a brand new Presbyterian church in Mitford, Connecticut, he discovered that the governor of Connecticut really did not want him, or for that matter, the Presbyterian Church. He was escorted, or should I say, expelled from the colony. It is clear from his later ministry that this was all due to the providence of God. Read more

Invocation of Saints and Prayer to Mary?

By Shane Lems - Posted at The Reformed Reader: Systematic Theology, Charles Hodge The Roman Catholic Catechism still teaches and affirms prayer to Mary and invocation of the saints for help (see paragraphs 2675, 2676, 2683, 956, etc.). In Protestant theology, specifically in the Reformed catechisms, prayer to Mary and to the saints is said to be idolatry – a violation of the first commandment. Why or how is prayer to saints or Mary (or anyone besides God) a form of idolatry and a grave sin? Charles Hodge explains this well as he gives three main theological objections to the invocation of saints (I’ve slightly edited the following for length): ... Read more here...

The Puritans and Revival Christianity by Iain Murray

Posted at Grace Online Library: George Wishart "The commencement of the Reformation in England and Scotland was marked by a thirst for Scripture among the people. Tyndale’s version of the New Testament circulated in both realms from 1526 onwards and soon a train of preachers appeared, at first small in number, whose ministry was attended by effects which had not been commonly seen for many long centuries. Of the Scottish reformer, George Wishart, martyred in 1546, we have this account of his open-air preaching: ‘He mounted an earthen fence, and continued preaching to the people above three hours, and God wrought so wonderfully by that sermon that one of the wickedest men in the country, the laird of Sheld, was converted by it, and his eyes ran down with such abundance of tears that all men wondered at him.’" Following as it did so closely upon the Reformation it is not surprising that the Puritan movement in England believed so firmly in revivals of religion as the g

Postmillennialism: Statement of the Doctrine by Loraine Boettner

Posted at Grace Online Library: "We believe that the Great Commission includes not merely the formal and external announcement of the Gospel preached as a ‘witness’ to the nations, as the Premillennialists and Amillennialists hold, but the true and effectual evangelization of all the nations so that the hearts and lives of the people are transformed by it. That seems quite clear from the fact that all authority in heaven and on earth and an endless sweep of conquest has been given to Christ and through Him to His disciples specifically for that purpose. The disciples were commanded not merely to preach, but to make disciples of all the nations. It was no doubtful experiment to which they were called, but to a sure triumph. The preaching of the Gospel under the direction of the Holy Spirit and during this dispensation is, therefore, the all-sufficient means for the accomplishment of that purpose." We have defined Postmillennialism as that view of the last things which h

Postmillennialism: Representative Theologians by Loraine Boettner

Posted at Grace Online Library: "...Dr. Warfield, who in the opinion of the present writer is to be ranked with Augustine, Calvin, and Charles Hodge as one of the four outstanding theologians in the entire history of the Church, was a Postmillennialist, and his collected writings, reprinted in ten large volumes, continue to exert a strong influence in theological circles. We have said that each of the millennial views has been held by men of unquestioned sincerity and ability. Among Postmillennialists should be mentioned first of all the great Augustine, whose eminently sound interpretation of Scripture set the standard for the Church for nearly a thousand years. In later times there were Rev. David Brown, a Scotch Presbyterian minister, and a considerable number of systematic theologians, the Hodges at Princeton (Drs. Charles, Archibald A., and Caspar Waster Hodge, Jr., the latter having been the writer’s revered teacher), Dr. W. G. T. Shedd, Dr. Robert L. Dabney, Dr. Henr

Postmillennialism: Introduction by Loraine Boettner

Posted at Grace Online Library: Loraine Boettner Broadly speaking there are three general systems which profess to set forth the teaching of Scripture regarding the Second Coming of Christ and the future course of the Kingdom. They are: Postmillennialism, Amillennialism, and Premillennialism. The essential presuppositions of the three systems are similar. Each holds that the Scriptures are the word of God and authoritative. Each holds to the same general concept of the death of Christ as a sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice and as the only ground for the salvation of souls. Each holds that there will be a future, visible, personal Coming of Christ. Each holds that every individual is to receive a resurrection body, that all are to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that the righteous are to be rewarded in heaven, and that the wicked are to be punished in hell. Each of the systems is, therefore, consistently evangelical, and each has been held by many able and sincere me

The Place of Holiness in the Life

By Colin Mercer - Posted at Reading: 1 Peter 1:14-16 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. David Brainerd - Image from Wikipedia David Brainerd is best remembered as the outstanding missionary to the American Indians in the mid 1700s. During those years he laboured in what one writer has described as “the untamed American frontier.” As a young man serving God, Brainerd battled depression, loneliness, physical sickness, and the many hardships of those early settlement times. Yet despite every difficulty, Brainerd threw himself body, soul, and mind into this great work. He was untiring in his zeal, undaunted by the problems, immoveable in his work, and unshaken in his resolve to serve his God. When Brainerd came towards the end of his life (he died when

Sundays are for Sabbath Rest

By J.D. Hall - Posted at The Pulpit and Pen: Are you Reformed? If so, this is your view of the Sabbath (same in both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the LBC1689) – From Chapter 22, Article 7 & 8 . 7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment , be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment , binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath , the observation of the last day of the week being abolished. ( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 ) 8. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when me

Birth of John Calvin - July 10, 1504

Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History: The Virtual Founder of America The German historian, Leopold von Ranke, was the one who declared that John Calvin was the virtual founder of America. Today, July 10, marks the birth of this Swiss Reformer, John Calvin, in the year 1504. And yes, the usual focus of this blog is on American Presbyterians. But Calvin’s influence pervades all of our history and our culture, so it is entirely appropriate that we should look at the man and his message. Do we have any idea of how many Calvinists there were in our country up to the time of the American Revolution in 1776? Loraine Boettner states that out of the three million citizens of the colonies at this pivotal time in our history, 900,000 were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, 600,600 were Puritan English, 400,000 were German or Dutch Reformed, and there were a lot of French Huguenots, who were Calvinists. Two-thirds of our citizens had been trained in the school of Calvin. Calvin was

Francis Makemie and Freedom of Speech

By Dr. David W. Hall - Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History: Image from Wikipedia One illustration of how religion and politics were interwoven, especially the religion and politics of strongly Scottish Calvinist sentiment, can be seen from the experience of Ulster Presbyterian missionary Francis Makemie (b. 1658). Makemie had been reared on tales of the Scottish rebellion that adopted the Solemn League and Covenant, and he was educated at the University of Glasgow one generation after Samuel Rutherford. Commissioned by the Presbytery of Laggan, a fiercely Calvinistic stronghold, the first Presbyterian minister on the North American continent landed on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay in 1683. Over time, he earned a reputation as a threat to the Anglicans in the area, and he was reported to the Bishop of London (who never had authority over Makemie) to be a pillar of the Presbyterian sect. His work was commended by Puritan giant Cotton Mather, and his correspondence w

Rejoicing in Life

By Colin Mercer - Posted at the Daily Devotionals: (7th July) Rejoicing in Life Reading: 1 Peter 1:8 There is much in this world that causes despair and discouragement in the heart of the Christian. Sin without, combined with the sin that dwells within us. often mars our happiness. But over against those reasons for despair stands a glorious reason for rejoicing. The Puritan Robert Asty said, “There is enough in Christ Jesus alone for the soul’s full rejoicing.” As Peter testifies, “We rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” The Christian’s joy rests on the person of Christ. If the Lord Jesus was a mere man, our confidence and contentment in Him would be misplaced. Men fail and disappoint, but with Christ it is different. Christ is truly man but He is also truly God. The Lord Jesus occupies the unique position of having two natures in one person forever. He is both God and man at the one time, and therefore Christ is the perfect Saviour. We rejoice

Biography of Jan (John) Huss

By Cris Cottom - Posted at Sermon Audio: Listen here... (45 minutes) Details: Born : 1372, Hussenitz, Bohemia Influenced by: Wycliff through Jerome of Prague. Influence on: Luther Teachings: 1- Authority of Scripture, 2- Bible in the common tongue, 3-Head of Church is Jesus Christ, 4- Communion in both parts and 5- Reform of Roman Church Power. Martyred : July 6, 1415 at Council of Constance

Today in history: Jan Hus burned at the stake 600 years ago

Posted at People's World: "God is my witness that the things charged against me I never preached," Hus said. "In the same truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, drawing upon the sayings and positions of the holy doctors, I am ready to die today." On this date in 1415, the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus (in English, John Hus or Huss), condemned as a heretic against the doctrines of the Catholic Church, was burned at the stake. This date has long been a Czech national holiday in his honor. The story of Jan Hus (born ca. 1369) is more than a question of internal church disputes. As a priest, philosopher, and Master at Charles University in Prague, he is considered, after John Wycliffe, the English theorist of ecclesiastical Reformation, the first church reformer, living before Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. Hus was a key predecessor to the Protestant movement of the 16th century. His teachings had a strong influe

The Hand of the LORD in National Catastrophe

By Benjamin P. Glaser - Posted at Mountains and Magnolias: “If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?” — Amos 3:6 Great Fire of New York - Image from Wikipedia In his sermon responding to the Great Fire of 1835 in New York City Reformed Presbyterian minister James R. Willson speaks at great length as to the reasons why there was such a wanton destruction of both material and buildings, even noting the way that the freezing of the water lines inhibited the fighting of the fire, and how Christians should respond to this tragedy. There is much to take from this work including his jeremiads against the violence done to abolitionists, the danger of preaching false gospels, and the sins of the United States government, all of which Willson speaks about at length in other sermons and letters. However what I would like to focus on in this post is something dealing not with the content of the sermon (which I highly recommend you read), but one of the theologica

Calvinism and Representative Government

Taken from Calvinism in History by Loraine Boettner  - Posted at Reformed Calvinism was revolutionary. It taught the natural equality of men, and its essential tendency was to destroy all distinctions of rank and all claims to superiority which rested upon wealth or vested privilege. Loraine Boettner While religious and civil liberty have no organic connection, they nevertheless have a very strong affinity for each other; and where one is lacking the other will not long endure. History is eloquent in declaring that on a people's religion ever depends their freedom or their bondage. It is a matter of supreme importance what doctrines they believe, what principles they adopt: for these must serve as the basis upon which the superstructure of their lives and their government rests. Calvinism was revolutionary. It taught the natural equality of men, and its essential tendency was to destroy all distinctions of rank and all claims to superiority which rested upon

The Importance of the 10 Commandments

By Shane Lems - Posted at The Reformed Reader: Have you ever wondered why historic Christian churches and their creeds/confessions put so much emphasis on the Ten Commandments? For example, both the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Catechisms have a commentary type section on the Ten Words, as do Luther’s Catechisms. But why? Simply put, we emphasize the Ten Commandments because Scripture does. Here’s how Bruce Waltke explains this fact (I’ve summarized his explanation): 1) Their Placement Shows Priority. The Ten Commandments are given first in the Mosaic Law. Hebrew syntax and rhetorical style commonly place the main concept first and then elaborate on it, as in Genesis 1:1-2:3. God commands Moses at the beginning of Exodus to bring the people to the mountain to worship God. This is the underlying driving force of the Exodus narrative – to reach the climactic moment at the mountain. That the Ten Commandments were the first revelation at Sinai places them in


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