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translators' time, and though the last half century has seen its revival, to the blessing of myriads, (praise the Lord !), yet vast numbers of Christians are still in ignorance of its preciousness.

Such dear Christians, therefore, like the translators, are obliged to accommodate these words—"angels of tho churches "—to suit their notions of ministry! and say that "the angels of the churches" are " the ministers of the churches."

In another section of this article we show that such a gracious servant of God as Paul himself cannot be regarded as "an angel."

2. While, therefore, we cannot receive the teaching on this passage of those who hold wrong (that is, unseriptural) thoughts on the subject of "ministry," difficulty is also felt in receiving the interpretations of some who hold right ideas about "ministry."

These latter interpretations, to which we refer, are—

(a) That "the angel" is the Spirituality of each

church; [To this exception is taken, because it is a non-personal term, whereas the term angel is mostly personal, and personality is again and again attributed in this case. "Spirituality " is an abstract quality or thing, not a person. Now you cannot write to a thing. But the word is—" Unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus write—"

(b) By some, the Spiritual members of eacli church,

(viewed as united in one) are regarded as the angel;

[To this wo object, because the oneness of believors is the oneness of the body, not of the spiritually-minded only; we are one, whatever tho condition of heart and life. No other Scripture justifies the thought of one part of the Church being the "angel" to the other part. Tho " spiritual " part of each church cannot be the "angel," hut are rathor those who are individually addressed, at the end of each of the Seven Epistles in the words—" He that hath an ear to hear." These are the Spiritual members of each Church. If they be a part of the Church, they cannot be the angels of the Church, because the "stars " must be regarded as distinct from the " candlesticks," but this hypothesis confuses the two.]

(o) Guardian angelt from heaven, deputed to take care of each church.

[This view is founded upon such texts and facts as these— "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto them who shall be heirs of salvation r" "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him." "Their angels do always bohold the face of my Father which is in heaven.'' And in the book of Daniel, the Angel Michael is seen as tho great guardian of the Jewish nation. Now, in all these and other cases, the angels, because they "excel in might," are seen to be used in a physical, soldierly, or servitor sense—never are they brought before us in the Scriptures as those who possess truth from God for us. They were, indeed, used to convey messagis from God to individuals, hut man was never encouraged to regard them as standing depositories of truth. Indeed, this interpretation—that the Seven Epistles were addressed to the Seven Churches through a Guardian Angelic Spirit, if practically taken up, would go far to override that Scripture which declares there is but one mediator between God and man, and might very naturally lead to that reverential regard for the angels of God which was foreseen and forbidden.]


Before we enter into the consideration of the right interpretation, let us altogether dismiss the claims of man to be identified with the "angels of the churches" by the following section.

The control exercised over the Stars or Angels is complete—they are in the Lord's Bight Band.

Can it be 6aid of any one, or more, members of any church, that he, or they, have been thus completely, and at all times, voluntarily under the control of the Lord Jetus Christ, Head of the Church?

Of course, it cannot. This consideration should have great weight with us, in leading us to look away from ourselves for the Angels of the Churches.

If any brother in the Lord could be regarded as a StarPaul is that man. Yet who would claim for Paid such a complete and continual subjection to the Lord as is implied in the emblem of a star t'» the Lord's right hand f Take, for instance, his final journey up to Jerusalem.

It becomes us, indeed, to speak very carefully when weighing the conduct of an Apostle of the Lord, and we desire so to do. With respect to Paul, the Apostle to us Gentiles, we hope we reverence him as much as any, for all that the Lord did by him and in him, but with the Acta of the Apostles in our hands, we may well doubt whether that journey was directed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and we perceive that the truth we are here considering, concerning man not being the Stars or Angels of the Churches, demands a passing attention to this passage in Paul's course.

Doubtless, "our beloved brother Paul" thought and felt that he had good motives for going up to Jerusalem—such as: a love for the poor saints, zeal for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a readiness to die for Israel's sake. But the best motives do not justify any course for which we have no distinct permission. (Oh, that we may all learn that lesson!) For aught that appeal's in the Word, Paul's project of going up to Jerusalem arose, (almost unwittingly, perhaps,) in his own heart and mind, and was pursued by his own will and tcish.

In tho beginning of his Christian course, Paul naturally had desires towards Jerusalem, and fostered thoughts within himself that he was just the servant for the special work of preaching Christ to the Jews. He even presses upon the Lord Jesus Himsolf these views of his personal fitness! The Lord having appeared to him, said—

"Make haste, and get thee out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me."

To this requirement, Paul answers, almost in the language of remonstrance!

"Lord, they know that / imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee; and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, / also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept tho raiment of them that slew him!"

This reasoning is met by a peremptory command—

"Depart, for 1 will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles."

Thus Paul, at the first, like the rest of the Apostles, clave to Israel. But the Lord Jesus, for the sake of us who were among the Gentiles, broke him away.

What was his final return to Jerusalem—but natural desire, in a most gracious man, at last, hating its own way?

It ia almost the only failing recorded of Paul, in whom the Lord was so greatly glorified—but a failurt it clearly u-as.

For are not the facts these?

The Lord gave a command—"Depart—far hence," and Re never revoked it. This, the will of Christ concerning him, wns revealed to him through Ananias at his baptism, and confirmed by the Holy Ghost when he was separated to the work with Barnabas. Under such circumstances we should expect that Paul would not leave his work among the Gentiles without express permission. Now this seems to have been the case with regard to his first journey up to Jerusalem after his call to the Apostleship. Referring to that occasion, Pa\il says,—

"I went up by revelation." (Gal. ii.)

But with regard to his last journey, he went up against revelation, the Holy Ghost warning him from time to time that it would cause personal hindrance with his apostolic work, and when, at last, he had reached tho borders of Palestine, the Holy Spirit gave an emphatic utterance of disapprobation.

"Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyro; for there the ship was to unlade her burden. And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days, who said to Paul, through the Spirit, that he should Not go up to Jerusalem." (Acts xxi.)

As Paul did not bow to this utterance of the Spirit, nothing remained but the pronunciation of judgment through Agabus—indefinite imprisonment, which the disciples (rinding they could not turn him from his purpose) are obliged to acquiesce in with a sigh— "The will of the Lord be done."

Christ was indeed glorified by Paul's testimony, as He always is, whether it is received or not. But where was the good to souls resulting from it? The Lord knew that they who had rejected Him would reject Paul: and so He said, "They will Not receive thy testimony concerning me."

So, all the Holy Ghost has recorded is—an enraged populace, a trembling Felix, an almost-persuaded Agrippa,—but no soul saved. Even the Church, whose poor he went to relieve, only had their burdens increased through additional persecution excited by his presence. (See Hebrewsx. 34.)

The Holy Spirit made known the mind of the Lord. Those who think these remarks groundless must shut their eyes to the above simple Scripture—that the Spirit intimated at Troas that Paid should not go up to Jerusalem. Most certainly, as regards conduct, it was possible for Paul to fail as well as Peter, whom he had to reprove to his face.

The Lord had called Paul to the apostleship of the Gentiles. And for what did he leave his Christappointed work? That he " might carry alms to his own nation." (Actsxxiv.) Now, was not this leaving apostle-work for deacon-work—work which any two or three of the good men who were travelling with him might have done—men whose praise was in all the churches? The course taken by the Apostle is altogether very surprising.

And mark the result! As if left to himself, see

him, with shaven head, adopting an unworthy temporising policy, and yielding to Pharisaic pressure!

And when in prison, we hear no midnight hymns as at Philippi. At the latter place, he was in the path of duty. But the castle at Jerusalem was made, on that night, by Paul's reflections, a gloomy prison-house indeed. But the dear Lord met his fears and regrets by a specially gracious word.

"Be of good cheer, Paul ; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Gome."

Yes; but in custody of the Gentile power. He bore witness at Borne, and,perhaps, at Rome only. The Holy Ghost never presents him again as being at liberty, going about his legitimate work, preaching the Gospel in regions beyond, and confirming tho churches.

That the Lord (who always shows Himself stronger and wiser than Satan), brought blessing to souls and glory to Himself out of the failure of His very dear servant, is freely admitted. Our only object here is to show that it was a failure; and thence to prove that no Gentile believer can claim, for himself or others, that which we cannot claim for Paul himself —to he a star in the Lord's right hand, that is to say, a light-giver always consciously under the Lord's control.

We must look away from the church for the angel of the church.

As so much difference of view exists on this subject, we may well desire to be led by the Holy Spirit into this part of God's Word for ourselves.

In the first place angel means "messenger,"— "revealer," and is generally in the Word a messenger from God.

Who is the messenger from God in the Church of God? who is the Bevealer from God in our midst? "the Comforter, Tub Holt Ghost."

He is the Sent-One or Messenger in this dispensation.

"If 1 depart, I will send Him unto you." (John xvi.) "Hear what tho Spirit saith unto the churches."

Can it be true, therefore, that the—



This is the interpretation we are most happy in holding. That there are difficulties in it, we frankly confess. But for ourselves, we may say, iu all good conscience, we believe the Lord has graciously shown us through them all. Let us proceed to look at these difficulties in order.


Now, let it be clearly understood, this word has reference to office, "messenger," without respect to the nature of the one who fulfils that office. So that even Ood, when He comes down from the Invisible Jehovah, takes this title.

"The Lord (Ah-don), whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger {Angelos) of the Covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord {Jehovah) of Hosts." (Mai. iu.)

"Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him, and obey His voice, provoke Him not; for He will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in Him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and will cut them off." (Exod xxiii.)

"In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence saved them." (Isa. lxiii.)

In other places, the Divine One who came down into gracious dealing with man is called "the angel of the Lord" as well as "God," both terms being sometimes used in the same passage indifferently for the same person: thus—

"Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro .... and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord

appeared unto him in a flame of fire And when the Lord

■aw that He turned aside to see, God called unto him." (Exod. iii.)

So, too, while we read in Exod. xx. "God spake all these words, saying,—" In Acts vii. this Divine One is spoken of as the angel—doubtless, the Eternal Word.

"This is he (Moses) that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sinai and our fathers, who received the lively oracles to give unto us."

And so, in other passages.

"And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven tho second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord." (Gen. xxii.)

"And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob ; And I said, Here am I." ..." I am the God of Bethel." (Gen. xxxi.)

"The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads." (Gen. xlviii.)

"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us or for our adversaries P And he said, Nay ; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his faco to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And tho captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. • And Joshua did so." (Joshua v.)

"And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him [Gideon] and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said unto him, Oh, my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then has all this befallen us P . . .. And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of tho Midianites: have not I sent thee?" (Judges vi.)

The following passage in the Now Testament is remarkably similar to the above from the Old. In Acts viii. 26 we read—

"And the Angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, arise, and go toward the south."

In the 29th verse the expression is changed—

"Then the Spirit said unto Philip, go near, and join thyself to this chariot."

"The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip."

As the latter command is only a continuation of the former—is "the Spirit" in the latter the same

person as "the angel of the Lord" in the former, as in the Old Testament Scriptures above quoted?

It is not our object to prove that angels were always God: no, no. In the multitude of places they are clearly creature-spirits. Thus, the three that appeared to Abraham (Gen. xviii.) were "the angel of the Lord" (that is, one person of the Godhead) and two angels or creature-spirits.

Our desire is merely to show any who are stumbled at the interpretation that the "Angel" is the Spirit, that the same word is assumed in grace by that Blessed One, who, leaving the Light Inaccessible, appeared, of old, to mortal sight, and even touch. See Gen. xxxii. 24—32, where Jacob wrestled with Him—wrestled with God, "had power with God," not in wrestling—trying that, he came off lame— but he prevailed in obtaining a blessing and a royal name.

There is nothing lowering to the nature of the Spirit to be termed "Angel" by the Son of God, than there is for that Divine One to be termed "Angel" by the Spirit of Prophecy when reference is made in the Old Testament to His coming to do the will of God. In both cases, the word is simply and strictly true and applicable—Messenger or Representative.


But some may say—The Holy Spirit is one; how then can a plural emblem—stars, angels—be used to show forth the nature of the work or office He has graciously taken?

To this it is replied, For the same reason that the Church, which is one, is represented by seven— seven golden candlesticks. Seven, as we were shown at page 169, sets forth, in the Scriptures, perfectness, divine completeness. The Church of God is perfect in His sight.

"By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Heb. x.)

The Holy Spirit is a perfect enlightener—the Seven Stars; He is the perfect messenger, therefore is He called the Angels of the Seven Churches. And tho Seven Candlesticks are the Seven churches, or the One perfect Church.

So far as the saints are concerned, the Holy Spirit is, personally, perfectly present in every church, in a practical sense. Therefore He has a sevenfold personal emblem—angels of the seven churches. In each of the Seven Churches he was regarded as being really as Present as if he were there—in that oneonly. Thus a seven-fold personal emblem simply sets forth his omni-presence.

But the seven, in emblem—are one, in person. This is rendered very clear by Rev. xxii. 16:

"I, Jesus, have sent mine Angel to testify unto you these things in tho Churches."

Who is testifying in the churches? The Spirit.

"He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches." "He shall testify of me,"

In Rev. v. we seem to have a wonderful reference, emblematically, to the same Holy One.

"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.''

Here the Holy Spirit is presented in active association with the Lord Jesus Christ, but in a different dispensation to our own. In this Rev. v. the Church is presented above in the glory, while worship and praise ascend from all below. It seems, therefore, to bring before us the earth in Millennial days, and we are led by the above expression "Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth," to remember the words of the prophet Joel, which will then be fully fulfilled.

"And it shall como to pass afterward, that I will pour oat

my Spirit upon All Flesh; and your sons, &c also upon

the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit."

Now, He is the Angels in the Seven churches: then, the Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Again, in a purely heavenly scene, (Rev. iv.) we read—

"And out of the throne proceeded lightningsandthunderings and voices : and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the Seven Spirits of God."


"Unto the Angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith He that hath the Seven Spirits of God and the Seven Stars."

Thus the Seven Stars, the Seven Angels, and the Seven Spirits of God, are the Holy Spirit—emblems of the Holy Spirit in- his different relationships. The first is heavenly—the two latter earthly, having reference to his earthly work and attitude. Just as the words "sword of the Spirit" are an emblem for the Word of God.


A difficulty in receiving this interpretation may present itself in this fact—

If the Perfect Angel of the One Church is the Abiding Spirit, how is it that He receives words through John, and not directly from the Lord Himself? John is commanded by the Lord to "write," and to write to the Angel,

In looking at this fact, let us weigh the following:

1. The apostolic order was instituted before the descent of the Holy Ghost.

2. The Apostolic Ministry, though personally transient, was Divine. God ever honours that which is of Himself.

8. The Lord, therefore, takos up the^nor Ministry (in the person of John), and which teas about to vanish away, to present words to the final and abiding Ministry, (the Spirit,) which should be lastingly presented by Him to the churches.

Then, again, there is the Scripture—

"He shall not speak of [from] Himself, but whatsoever He null hear, that shall He speak.

This is doubly true: First, with regard to the

Apostles, in showing them new truth, according to the will of Christ; and, secondly, in not revealing new truth to us, but unfolding that which is written. Now, if it is a matter of fact, that the churches have an Abiding Heavenly Messenger in them, to unfold and press the truth upon them, and who was to remain as the Lord's Representative after the Apostles,—how appropriate that the word, addressed to the churches in the "last time," when the Gifts had all but passed away,—how appropriate that the word then given should have been given to the Angel! It is thus addressed to Him in His Churchaspect—as the Sent-One in the churches.

Not to have addressed them to Him, would have been to have ignored the presence of a Divine One— —One to whom the churches, in the absence of the Lord, are committed.

"Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are teaUi unto the day of redemption." (Eph. iv.)

When the Apostles departed, all ordinations "vanished away," all human under-shepherds ceased. Members of the flock have been blessed to one another, as the Spirit, by'the Lord's will, may have used them. But the only Leader now of the sheep is "the Comforter, the Holy Ghost," the Angel who is now with the Church in the wilderness. Suppose the Lord Jesus were to send an Epistle to the Church now—who is there to whom he could address it, who could take the duty of pressing it on the saints? There are no Spiritual Gifts or Ordained Ones to take the responsibility. Then, it surely, would be addressed to his own Divine Representative, the Spirit, the seven-fold Perfect Angel.

Now this was just the condition of the Church when John, the last of the Apostles, was shut up in Patmos. "That which is Perfect" had come; Gifts had "vanished away;" the Church was committed to the Spirit, and called to walk by faith alone, and not to look to, or lean upon man. To Him, therefore, are the Seven epistles addressed, without whose ministry, to press them upon the souls of the saints, they would have fallen, as a word without power.

Of the Apostles, the Lord said—

"I havo given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me."

But the last Apostle being about to depart, he is directed to write important words to the Abiding Angel of the Church for continual application by Him.

Into whose hands have all the apostolic writings been put? — Surely, into the hands of the Angel of the Church. Just as the Old Testament came into the hands of the Lord Jesus; so, the New Testament (and the Old) have come into the hands of the Angel—the Spirit, to open unto Ub.

"The Anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; ., the same Anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth" (1 John ii.)

In the light of this whole interpretation—(which we are persuaded is a true unfolding of the Word by the Spirit, according to the will of the Lord Jesus, to whom bo all glory for ever!)—how perfectly and simply do the commencement and ending of each of the seven epistles harmonize!

In the commencement of each the Spirit is addressed by the Lord as a, sees Him—the Angel— in His Church-relationship.

But in the ending, He is introduced to our regard as—the Spirit.

"Unto the Angel of the church of Ephesus write—" "He that hath an ear to hear, lot him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."

Thus the epistle to each church was to be rehearsed or reiterated to all the churches, by the Spirit: and Bo they are, having become a part of that Word of God which is "the Sword of the Spirit."

Each of the seven epistles details the condition of each church, its work and failures, and is addressed to each church through the Angel to which each church is committed—the Holy Spirit. The Apostles vanishing away (John being the last) the Holy Spirit was the only and sufficient Repretentaiive of Christ to whom the saints were left in charge. It is solemnly committing the saints to the care of the Perfect Seven-fold Angel.

Thus, it will be seen that the Holy Spirit has graciously accepted the place of Messenger from God—keeping, leading, teaching the Lord's bloodbought ones in His personal absence, and doing this under the will of the Lord, the Head of the Church, and through the Written Word.

"He shall not speak of [from] himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak." (John xvi.)

This is a very wonderful thing, and is akin to the subjection (when He became man) of the Eternal Word to the Father:

"I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father that hath sent me." (John v.)

This truth of the voluntary service of the Holy Spirit is needful to a constant apprehension of the Lordship and Headship of the Son of God, our ever-present Saviour,

When we gather together, it is not to the Holy Ghost, but to the Lord Jesus, to be blessed by Him, as He sees needful, by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Thus the Holy Spirit is the Angel, or Messenger, by whom the Lord sends messages to us of grace and truth in each church. Or, to use the other emblem, the Spirit's rays are our Star-light, in the absence of the Sun of Righteousness, to guide us through the night of our pilgrimage—" but the night is far spent, the day is at hand."

It is very important to thus see clearly the place or attitude of the ever-blessed and glorious Persons to whom we are referring, or else there may be confusion of person or office, and we may address the Spirit when we ought to address the Father or the Son. The Holy Spirit being here to glorify Christ— being here in wondrous grace—is never directly addressed, in the Scriptures, either in worship or prayer. He, indeed, helps us to cry, Abba, Father, (Rom. viii.), and to abide in the Lord Jesus (1 John ii. 27), but does not lead us to address Himself personally, and we shall not do so if we are guided

by the Word. We feel that such an act would be ignoring the relation of Head and Members, but the Holy Ghost is here to glorify the risen Jesus; He does not, therefore, take any glory to Himself: and as surely as we are led of Him, He will keep us "holding the Head."


1. That man cannot be tho Stars, the Angels.

2. That the term Angel or Messenger has been often assumed by God.

3. That the only Messenger in the Church is the Spirit.

4. That the plural emblem, Seven, indicates qualities only possessed by tho Spirit—inherent light, omnipresence, a Perfect Messenger.

6. That, being in the Lord's Right Hand, indicates a completeness of subjection to Him, which no man has ever shown.

6. That the Spirit (in His Church Aspect,) as being really personally in the Seven Churches, was the one to be addressed as having the office of receiving and unfolding the Word.


"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the tons of threaten to them that believe on his name."

(John i)

A " son of God" must indeed be "a perfect man." It will be noted that the power to become a "son of God" is given to all who have received Jesus into their hearts, by faith, as their Saviour, no reference being made to the action of ministry as necessary to lead to that spiritual perfectness of life, which is what is meant by "becoming sons of God."

Some brother has written an answer to the article in our last—" A Perfect Man," in which he says—

"The argument of the aboienamed writer is virtually thie, that a Christian who is in possession of a complete volume of the Srripturr* is ' a perfect man,' according to the expression in the ith Chapter of Ephesians !"

Now, our " argument" there is really this—

"Paul strove that he might then present—at that time— every man as apprehending the faith in its unity, or entirety, and as possessing a knowledge of the Son of God, and practically conformed to Him Thu, is the simple meaning of the

abovo passage in the Ephesians. This perfectness of believers was the Aim and Object of the Gifts, Christ being their StanDard."—P. 248.

The Scriptures regard the man who holds the faith in its entirety (or unity) and who is living by faith in (or practical intimacy with) the Son of God, and who is, in life, "walking as He walked "—I say, the Scriptures regard such an one as "a perfect man." If he is not perfect, let the writer say in what he is »'m-perfect.

But while others can find no fault with such an one, yet, in his own consciousness, he would be far from feeling, or taking the ground of, perfection Our brother has taken us to mean perfection, whei we have meant perfectness, or maturity, or "throughl; furnished." The "manhood," or "strong meat' stage of growth has the same import as the phrase "a perfect man." It simply means maturity. A "son of God" means a practical exemplification of our sonship, which we have "received power" to give, and the Scriptures assume that we shall.

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