The apostle urges him to the diligent exercise
of his calling. "Till I come
give attention to the reading, the exhortation, the teaching."
I. THE READING. This referred to the public reading of the Scriptures in the Church. The Old Testament Scriptures, and probably part of the New Testament, would thus be read at such meeting of the saints. This reading was necessary because
(1) the Scriptures were the sources of all religious knowledge;
(2) the test or standard of doctrine by which opinions were to be tried;
(3) the means of sanctification (John 17:17);
(4) the spring of Christian hope and comfort (Romans 15:13).
II. THE EXHORTATION. This refers to public ministry. Timothy was practically to enforce the duties of Christian life out of the Scriptures.
III. THE TEACHING. This refers to the matter of doctrinal instruction. Thus full provision would be made for building up the saints in their most holy faith, and in all the graces and virtues of a holy life. - T.C.
Give attendance to reading. I.
First, THE CHOICE OF BOOKS. In this there is a great need of caution; particularly in the spring season of life, while the mental and moral habits are yet in a process of formation. A person may be ruined by reading a single volume. It is a maxim, then, ever to be borne in mind, take heed what you read. To acquire useful information; to improve the mind in knowledge, and the heart in goodness; to become qualified to perform with honour and usefulness the duties of life, and prepared for a happy immortality beyond the grave — these are the great objects which ought ever to be kept in view in reading. And all books are to be accounted good or bad in their effects just as they tend to promote or hinder the attainment of these objects. Taking this as the criterion by which to regulate your choice of books, you will, I think, be led to give an important place to historical reading, especially to that which relates to our own country. History is the mirror of the world. In addition to a knowledge of our own history, some acquaintance with the government and laws of the society in which we live would seem an almost indispensable qualification of a good citizen. Nearly related to history, and not less important, is biography. This is a kind of reading most happily adapted to minds of every capacity and degree of improvement. Few authors can be read with more profit than those that illustrate the natural sciences, and show their application to the practical arts of life. Authors of this character teach us to read and understand the sublime volume of creation. Not less valuable are those writers that make us acquainted with our own minds and hearts; that analyse and lay open the secret springs of action; unfold the principles of political and moral science; illustrate the duties which we owe to our fellow-men, to society, and to God; and by teaching us the nature, dignity, and end of our existence, aim to elevate our views and hopes, and lead us to aspire after the true glory and happiness of rational and immortal beings. Especially must this be said of the Bible. One of the greatest and best of men, I refer to Sir William Jones, a judge of the supreme court of judicature, in Bengal, has said of the Bible, "I have carefully and regularly perused the Scriptures, and am of opinion that this volume, independent of its Divine origin, contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in whatever language they may have been written." Were I now to give you one rule for all, for regulating your choice of books, it should be this — "Books are good or bad in their tendency as they make you relish the Word of God the more or the less after you have read them." Having made these remarks to assist you in a proper choice of books, I will —
II. SUGGEST A FEW RULES IN REGARD TO THE BEST MANNER OF READING THEM. "There are many who read a great deal, and yet derive very little advantage from what they read. They make an injudicious choice of books; they read without method and without object, and often without attention and reflection. As a man may be eating all day, and for want of digestion receive no nourishment; so these endless readers may cram themselves with intellectual food, and without real improvement of their minds, for want of digesting it by reflection." It is of great importance, then, not only that we take heed what we read, but how we read.
1. In the first place, then, read with discrimination. The world is full of books; no small portion of which are either worthless or decidedly hurtful in their tendency.
2. Read with attention. Never take up a book merely for amusement, or for the sake of whiling away time. Time thus spent is worse than lost.
3. Read with reflection.
4. Read with confidence. It is often said man does not know his weakness. It is quite as true, he does not know his strength. Multitudes fail to accomplish what they might because they have not due confidence in their powers, and do not know what they are capable of accomplishing. Hence they yield their understandings to the dictation of others, and never think or act for themselves. The only use they make of reading is to remember and repeat the sentiments of their author. This is an error. When you sit down to the reading of a book believe that you are able to understand the subject on which it treats, and resolve that you will understand it. If it calls you to a severe effort, so much the better. Call no man master. Yield not your minds to the passive impressions which others may please to make upon them.
5. At the same time, read with humility and candour. We know so little, in comparison with what is to be known, that we have always much more reason to be humbled by our ignorance than puffed up by our knowledge. Real science is ever humble and docile; but pedantry is proud and self-conceited.
6. It is a happy method to improve by reading, when several persons unite in reading the same book, or on the same subject, and meet occasionally to interchange their thoughts and compare their opinions respecting the authors they have been studying.
7. Read for improvement, and not for show. Recollect that the great object of reading is not to be able to tell what others have thought and said; but to improve your minds in useful knowledge, establish your hearts in virtue, and prepare yourselves for a right performance of the duties of life, and for a joyful acceptance with God on the great day of account.
III. In conclusion, let me call your attention TO THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING A DILIGENT USE OF THIS MEANS OF INTELLECTUAL AND MORAL IMPROVEMENT.
1. In the first place, then, reading is a most interesting and pleasant method of occupying your leisure hours.
2. It is a consideration of no small weight that reading furnishes materials for interesting and useful conversation. Those who are ignorant of books must of course have their thoughts confined to very narrow limits.
And here we come to the first reason why we should give attention to reading. Because —
1. There is so much to be had for so little. This too is true, that truth is cheaper than error, as found in the types to-day. The father of lies knows the appetite for a certain kind of reading which is upon the age. But, ministering to the lower tastes, he makes us pay his printers. He is up to every device, but always with an open eye to profit.
2. Reading is made more and more readable, and especially reading of the best kind. Those who had a taste for philosophy in the days of Plato, for poetry in the days of Chaucer, for history in the days of Gibbon, for natural science in the days of Richelieu, for metaphysics in the time of Locke, for sacred learning in the ages when monasteries had all the books and students — at what trouble every learner of old time was put to obtain intelligence. But, by contrast, how accessible is every sort of knowledge now.(1) One should read no more than he takes time to reflect upon. A paragraph or a page mentally masticated and digested is of more service than a whole volume swallowed whole. To get a single truth so at one's service as to handle it as skilfully as David did his sling and stone is more effective than the apparel of Saul's armour. Many a great ease at law, involving precious life and costly property, has been lost or won through the happy knowledge of a single fact.(2) Read chiefly on the side of ascertained truths. Let us plant ourselves upon the rock, that some things have been settled. There are some facts of religion which can no more be made flux by the slow or the fierce fires of the crucible of criticism, than gold can be melted by the flicker of a fire-fly. It seems no less than an unpardonable concession to admit that everything in this world is uncertain and unstable, and that the least stability and certainty are found in the realm of religion and requirements of faith.(3) Read for the sake of final character as well as, or even more than, for present culture or professional calling. Is family government becoming feeble? Is the French disease of domestic corruption sickening our most sacred fane, the family? Then it will do it still more unless there shall come on us a holy purpose to purify our homes by raising the quality of the reading there allowed above the merely professional, above the evanescently fashionable, above the utterly ephemeral, up to that high order in which what is read shall sweetly allure to brighter worlds, by making sin of every gilded and grosser sort abominable in this.
And, first, remember what a great and good book is, and especially what the Holy Book is. I want you to read the best books. Never waste your time and money over a poor, worthless, bad book. A bad book is a poison; a good book, the product of a wise soul, is health and strength and joy to mind and heart.
II. Then, consider what a great and good book may do for you, especially what the Bible may do for you. A bad book may pollute your moral life with foul and hideous stains; a weak and worthless book will waste your time, and destroy the force of your mind, but a wise strong book will ennoble and enrich you for ever.
III. Then, consider how a great and good book may help you, especially how the Bible will help you. We need the sympathy and strength of greater men than ourselves. No mind should feed upon itself. It should commune with other minds, with the golden words of men whose hearts God hath touched.
IV. Then, do not let us forget how a great and good book may teach you, especially how the Bible can teach you. It can teach you secular wisdom. The best business precepts are to be found in the Bible.
The art of writing is an old as well as an invaluable art, though printing is a comparatively modern invention. Paul was a reader (Acts 17:28
; Titus 1:12
), and he exhorts Timothy, his son, to read. Right attendance to reading means —
I. Read the BEST books. The world abounds with books, most of which are rubbish, many of which are pestilent, few only are good. A good book should be —
1. Enlightening. It should brighten the firmament and widen the horizon of the soul.
2. Truthful. Whether in the form of fiction, history, or discussion, it should be true to the great realities of existence.
3. Suggestive. Every page of a good book should involve much more than it expresses, and charm the reader into fresh fields of inquiry.
4. Disciplinary. A good book is a book that aims at disciplining both the intellect and the heart. To aid the intellect to think with freedom, force, and precision, and the heart to flow with pure loves and high aspirations.
II. Read the best books in a RIGHT WAY.
3. Practically.If men would "give attendance to such reading" a glorious change would come over the world, a new order of things would spring up in every department of social life.
It is well known that the great doctors of the world, by much reading and speculation, attain unto a great height of knowledge, but seldom to sound wisdom; which hath given way to that common proverb, "The greatest clerks are not always the wisest men." It is not studying of politics that will make a man a wise councillor of state till his knowledge is joined with experience, which teacheth where the rules of state hold and where they fail. It is not book knowledge that will make a good general, a skilful pilot — no, not so much as a cunning artizan — till that knowledge is perfected by practice and experience. And so, surely, though a man abound never so much in literal knowledge, it will be far from making him a good Christian, unless he bring precepts into practice, and, by feeling experience, apply that he knows to his own use and spiritual advantage.
As it is not the best way for any that intendeth to make himself a good statesman to ramble and run over in his travels many countries, seeing much and making use of little for the improving of his knowledge and experience in state policy, but rather stay so long in each place till he have noted those things which are best worthy his observation: so is it also in the travels and studies of the mind, by which, if we would be bettered in our judgments and affections, it is not our best course to run over many things slightly, taking only such a general view of them as somewhat increaseth our speculative knowledge, but to rest upon the points we read, that we may imprint them in our memories, and work them into our hearts and affections, for the increasing of saving knowledge; then shall we find that one good book, often read and thoroughly pondered, will more profit than by running over a hundred in a superficial manner.
If I were to pray for a taste which should stand by me in stead under every variety of circumstances, and be source of happiness and cheerfulness to me through life, and a shield against its ills, however things might go amiss, and the world frown upon me, it would be a taste for reading. I speak of it, of course, only as a worldly advantage, and not in the slightest degree derogating from the higher office and sure and stronger panoply of religious principles — but as a taste, an instrument, and a mode of pleasurable gratification. Give a man this taste, and the means of gratifying it, and you can hardly fail of making him a happy man, unless, indeed, you put into his hands a most perverse selection of books. You place him in contact with the best society in every period of history; with the wisest, the wittiest, with the tenderest, the bravest, and the purest characters who have adorned humanity. You make him a denizen of all nations — a contemporary of all ages. The world has been created for him. It is hardly possible but the character should take a higher and better tone from the constant habit of associating in thought with a class of thinkers, to say the least of it, above the average of humanity. It is morally impossible but that the manners should take a tinge of good breeding and civilization from having constantly before our eyes the way in which the best-bred and best-informed men have talked and conducted themselves in their intercourse with each other. There is a gentle, but perfectly irresistible coercion in a habit of reading, well directed, over the whole tenour of a man's character and conduct, which is not the less effectual because it works insensibly, and because it is really the last thing he dreams of. It cannot be better summed up than in the words of the Latin poet, "Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros.
It civilizes the conduct of men, and suffers them not to remain barbarous.
TopicsAttend, Attendance, Attention, Bestow, Comforting, Doctrine, Exhortation, Heed, Holy, Pay, Preaching, Public, Reading, Saints, Scripture, Teaching, Thyself, Till, Writings
Outline1. He foretells that in the latter times there shall be a departure from the faith.6. And to the end that Timothy might not fail in doing his duty, he furnishes him with various precepts.
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Timothy 4:13
1690 word of God
6182 ignorance, human situation
7755 preaching, importance
8627 worship, elements
1 Timothy 4:6-16
1 Timothy 4:11-14
1 Timothy 4:11-16
1614 Scripture, understanding
1 Timothy 4:13-14
7026 church, leadership
7726 evangelists, ministry
1 Timothy 4:13-15
1 Timothy 4:13-16
7760 preachers, responsibilities
8236 doctrine, purpose
8251 faithfulness, to God
'Exercise thyself unto Godliness.'--1 TIM. iv. 7. Timothy seems to have been not a very strong character: sensitive, easily discouraged, and perhaps with a constitutional tendency to indolence. At all events, it is very touching to notice how the old Apostle--a prisoner, soon to be a martyr--forgot all about his own anxieties and burdens, and, through both of his letters to his young helper, gives himself to the task of bracing him up. Thus he says to him, in my text, amongst other trumpet-tongued …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Practice of Piety
The Practice of Piety Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God. by Lewis Bayly, D.D. Bishop of Bangor (with a biographical preface by Grace Webster) "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 Soli Deo Gloria Publications ...for instruction in righteousness... Soli Deo Gloria Publications P.O. Box 451, Morgan, PA 15064 (412) 221-1901/FAX (412) 221-1902 * This edition of The Practice of Piety was taken …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Epistle ii. To Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch.
To Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch. Gregory to Anastasius, Patriarch of Antioch. I have received the letters of your most sweet Blessedness, which flowed with tears for words. For I saw in them a cloud flying aloft as clouds do; but, though it carried with it a darkness of sorrow, I could not easily discover at its commencement whence it came or whither it was going, since by reason of the darkness I speak of I did not fully understand its origin. Yet it becomes you, most holy ones, ever to recall …
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great
Epistle cxxiii. To Venantius and Italica .
To Venantius and Italica  . Gregory to the lord Venantius, Patrician, and Italica his wife. I have taken care, with due affection, to enquire of certain persons who have come from Sicily about your Excellency's health. But they have given me a sad report of the frequency of your ailments. Now, when I say this, neither do I find anything to tell you about myself, except that, for my sins, lo it is now eleven months since it has been a very rare case with me if I have been able now and then to …
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great
Appendix. An Ordination Charge.
I should like to connect what I have to say with a text of Scripture, which you may remember as a motto for this occasion. Take, then, that pastoral exhortation to a young minister in 1 Tim. iv. 16: "Take heed unto thyself, and to the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee." There are three subjects recommended in this text to one in your position--first, yourself; second, your doctrine; third, those that hear you. I. Take heed unto …
James Stalker—The Preacher and His Models
How Intent the Ruler Ought to be on Meditations in the Sacred Law.
But all this is duly executed by a ruler, if, inspired by the spirit of heavenly fear and love, he meditate daily on the precepts of Sacred Writ, that the words of Divine admonition may restore in him the power of solicitude and of provident circumspection with regard to the celestial life, which familiar intercourse with men continually destroys; and that one who is drawn to oldness of life by secular society may by the aspiration of compunction be ever renewed to love of the spiritual country. …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
Grace Before Meat.
O most gracious God, and loving Father, who feedest all creatures living, which depend upon thy divine providence, we beseech thee, sanctify these creatures, which thou hast ordained for us; give them virtue to nourish our bodies in life and health; and give us grace to receive them soberly and thankfully, as from thy hands; that so, in the strength of these and thy other blessings, we may walk in the uprightness of our hearts, before thy face, this day, and all the days of our lives, through Jesus …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
The Daily Walk with Others (ii. ).
If Jesus Christ thou serve, take heed, Whate'er the hour may be; His brethren are obliged indeed By their nobility. In the present chapter I follow the general principles of the last into some further details. And I place before me as a sort of motto those twice-repeated words of the Apostle, TAKE HEED UNTO THYSELF. These words, it will be remembered, are addressed in both places to the Christian Minister. [Acts xx. 28; 1 Tim. iv. 6.] At Miletus St Paul gathers round him the Presbyters of Ephesus, …
Handley C. G. Moule—To My Younger Brethren
Answer to Mr. W's Fifth Objection.
5. The consideration that none of these raised persons did or could, after the return to their bodies, tell any tales of their separate existence; otherwise the Evangelists had not been silent in this main point, &c. p. 32. None of these persons, Mr. W. says, told any tales of their separate existence. So I suppose with him. As for the two first: How should they? being only, as Mr. W. says, an insignificant boy and girl, of twelve years of age, or thereabouts. Or if they did, the Evangelists were …
Nathaniel Lardner—A Vindication of Three of Our Blessed Saviour's Miracles
INTRODUCTORY. BY D.W. WHITTLE. To recognize God's existence is to necessitate prayer to Him, by all intelligent creatures, or, a consciously living in sin and under condemnation of conscience, because they do not pray to Him. It would be horrible to admit the existence of a Supreme Being, with power and wisdom to create, and believe that the creatures he thought of consequence and importance enough to bring into existence, are not of enough consequence for him to pay any attention to in the troubles …
Various—The Wonders of Prayer
Lastly, Let us Hear the Lord Himself Delivering Most Plain Judgment on this Matter. ...
23. Lastly, let us hear the Lord Himself delivering most plain judgment on this matter. For, upon His speaking after a divine and fearful manner concerning husband and wife not separating, save on account of fornication, His disciples said to Him, "If the case be such with a wife, it is not good to marry."  To whom He saith, "Not all receive this saying. For there are eunuchs who were so born: but there are others who were made by men: and there are eunuchs, who made themselves eunuchs for …
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.
"But Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God, and his Righteousness, and all These Things Shall be Added unto You. "
Matth. vi. 33.--"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." The perfection even of the most upright creature, speaks always some imperfection in comparison of God, who is most perfect. The heavens, the sun and moon, in respect of lower things here, how glorious do they appear, and without spot! But behold, they are not clean in God's sight! How far are the angels above us who dwell in clay! They appear to be a pure mass of light and …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Prefatory Scripture Passages.
To the Law and to the Testimony; if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.-- Isa. viii. 20. Thus saith the Lord; Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.--Jer. vi. 16. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But …
G. H. Gerberding—The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church
Perfect in Parts, Imperfect in Degrees.
And the very God of peace sanctify, you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. -- 1 Thess. v. 23. The Scriptural doctrine that sanctification is a gradual process perfected only in death must be maintained clearly and soberly: first, in opposition to the Perfectionist, who says that saints may be "wholly sanctified" in this life; secondly, to those who deny the implanting of inherent holy dispositions in God's children. …
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit
Of the Trinity and a Christian, and of the Law and a Christian.
EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. These two short treatises were found among Mr. Bunyan's papers after his decease. They probably were intended for publication, like his 'Prison Meditations' and his 'Map of Salvation,' on a single page each, in the form of a broadside, or handbill. This was the popular mode in which tracts were distributed; and when posted against a wall, or framed and hung up in a room, they excited notice, and were extensively read. They might also have afforded some trifling profit to aid …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
The Clergyman and the Prayer Book.
Dear pages of ancestral prayer, Illumined all with Scripture gold, In you we seem the faith to share Of saints and seers of old. Whene'er in worship's blissful hour The Pastor lends your heart a voice, Let his own spirit feel your power, And answer, and rejoice. In the present chapter I deal a little with the spirit and work of the Clergyman in his ministration of the ordered Services of the Church, reserving the work of the Pulpit for later treatment. THE PRAYER BOOK NOT PERFECT BUT INESTIMABLE. …
Handley C. G. Moule—To My Younger Brethren
Seed Scattered and Taking Root
'And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts
"We must Increase, but I must Decrease. "
(JOHN III. 30.) "Where is the lore the Baptist taught, The soul unswerving and the fearless tongue? The much-enduring wisdom, sought By lonely prayer the haunted rocks among? Who counts it gain His light would wane, So the whole world to Jesus throng?" KEBLE. The Moral Greatness of the Baptist--Thoughts on Envy--Christian Consecration--The Baptist's Creed--The Voice of the Beloved From the Jordan Valley our Lord returned to Galilee and Nazareth. The marriage feast of Cana, his return to Jerusalem, …
F. B. Meyer—John the Baptist
"But Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God," &C.
Matt. vi. 33.--"But seek ye first the kingdom of God," &c. O "seekest thou great things for thyself," says God to Baruch, (Jer. xlv. 5) "seek them not." How then doth he command us in the text to seek a kingdom? Is not this a great thing? Certainly it is greater than those great things he would not have Baruch to seek after, and yet he charges us to seek after it. In every kind of creatures there is some difference, some greater, some lesser, some higher, some lower; so there are some men far above …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
It is not only without any warrant of Scripture that matrimony is considered a sacrament, but it has been turned into a mere mockery by the very same traditions which vaunt it as a sacrament. Let us look a little into this. I have said that in every sacrament there is contained a word of divine promise, which must be believed in by him who receives the sign; and that the sign alone cannot constitute a sacrament. Now we nowhere read that he who marries a wife will receive any grace from God; neither …
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation
To The Reader: Nothing but the strongest conviction, not only that what is here advanced is "the truth as it is in Jesus," but also that I am indispensably obliged to declare this truth to all the world, could have induced me openly to oppose the sentiments of those whom I esteem for their work's sake: At whose feet may I be found in the day of the Lord Jesus! Should any believe it his duty to reply hereto, I have only one request to make, -- Let whatsoever you do, be done inherently, in love, and …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
Meditations of the Blessed State of the Regenerate Man after Death.
This estate has three degrees:--1st, From the day of death to the resurrection; 2d, From the resurrection to the pronouncing of the sentence; 3d, After the sentence, which lasts eternally. As soon as ever the regenerate man hath yielded up his soul to Christ, the holy angels take her into their custody, and immediately carry her into heaven (Luke xvi. 22), and there present her before Christ, where she is crowned with a crown of righteousness and glory; not which she hath deserved by her good works, …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Of Bearing the Cross --One Branch of Self-Denial.
The four divisions of this chapter are,--I. The nature of the cross, its necessity and dignity, sec. 1, 2. II. The manifold advantages of the cross described, sec. 3-6. III. The form of the cross the most excellent of all, and yet it by no means removes all sense of pain, sec. 7, 8. IV. A description of warfare under the cross, and of true patience, (not that of philosophers,) after the example of Christ, sec. 9-11. 1. THE pious mind must ascend still higher, namely, whither Christ calls his disciples …
Archpriest John Iliytch Sergieff—On the Christian Life
Third Sunday in Lent
Text: Ephesians 5, 1-9. 1 Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; 4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II
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