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A. S. Hayden
Early History of the Disciples (1875)


C H A P T E R   I I.

The Association in New Lisbon, 1827--An evangelist appointed--
      Biography of Walter Scott--Scott among the churches.

A S at the coming of day, the light springs forth in no one locality, but brightens alike over the whole land; so, in many places, with no traceable connection, the same investigations were going on, and the same conclusions were reached from the careful study of the New Testament. The style of speech indicated the change of thought. Sect language gradually gave place to Scripture terms and phrases, as more appropriate and correct, and authorized by the sanction of the Holy Spirit. Instead of "relating a Christian experience," converts now began to "confess their faith in Christ." Church records assumed the scriptural designation of "disciples." The spirit of research was fully set free. It peered into every thing, to sift out what was erroneous, and to make all things according to the pattern shown by the apostles in the New Testament. Even from the hymns and the prayers were eliminated objectionable terms and forms of speech, carrying in them thoughts and petitions unsanctioned by the Word of God. The dialect of the Holy Spirit in the language of apostles and prophets, it was urged, must be substituted for the corrupt language of the great apostasy which still pollutes the tongue of Christendom. The reformation must be radical. From the language of the Jews, the language of Ashdod must be expurgated. Thus, many terms that were trite and dear from their [54] familiar association in religious life were objected to as improper, and rejected as misleading.


      As the Calvinistic theory of conversion began to yield, and it was seen that sinners have something to do in hearing the gospel, that they may believe and be saved, and, also, that the church has in her hands the work of preaching it, the feeling began to take definite form that the time had come to take this responsibility which was devolved upon her by the Lord Jesus, to convert the world through the proclamation of the glad tidings. It was apparent, no less in the wants of the people than in the light of the Sacred Scriptures, that a suitable person should be selected to travel among the churches, to preach the gospel, and to set things in order according to the teachings of the primitive church. So evident had it become that this long neglected duty must be resumed, that a petition to this end was sent to the Mahoning Association from the church in Braceville. It was understood that the church in Nelson was consulted, and that it concurred in the movement. Mr. Campbell came to this association with the same purpose in his heart. Passing through Steubenville, he called on Walter Scott, principal of the academy in that place, and persuaded him to come to New Lisbon, with the intention of securing his appointment as the evangelist of the association.

      On this occasion, memorable in history, the association met by regular appointment in New Lisbon, Columbiana County, August 23, 1827. Jacob Osborne was moderator, and John Rudolph, Jr., clerk. [55]

      The churches and delegates composing the association, were as follows:

CHURCHES. NAMES OF MESSENGERS. Added by Baptism. Added by Letter. Dismissed. Excluded. Deceased. Total.
Warren Adamson Bentley ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Jacob Smith 3 1 4 4 2 72
Jacob Drake ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
New Lisbon Joab Gaskill ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
John Campbell ...... ...... 2 1 ...... 41
Henry Beck ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Mantua and
Darwin Atwater ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Zeb Randolph 9 ...... ...... ...... ...... 26
John Randolph, Jr. ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Palmyra Stephen Wood ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Noah Davis ...... ...... 1 3 ...... 49
William Bacon ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Hubbard Jesse Hall ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Walter Clark 1 ...... ...... ...... ...... 37
Archibald Price ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Braceville Jacob Osborne ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Henry Harsh ...... 3 ...... 2 1 36
Yellow Creek William McGavern ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Thomas Ray 5 ...... 1 2 ...... 30
Simon Kelly ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Val. of Achor Arthur Wherry ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
John Jackman 1 ...... 2 ...... ...... 70
Canfield David Hays ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Myron Sacket 1 ...... 1 ...... ...... 28
Wellsburg Va. Alexander Campbell ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
John Brown 11 5 3 1 1 56
Salem Arthur G. Hayden ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Aaron Hise 3 4 ...... ...... ...... 34
David Gaskill ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Hartford No intelligence.            
Youngstown Samuel Hayden ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Joseph Pearce ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
Southington No intelligence.            
Randolph Abijah Sturdevant ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... ......
William Churchill ...... ...... ...... ...... ...... 13
Sandy No intelligence.            
        Total number. 34 13 14 13 4 492

      Besides these accredited messengers, the following preachers were present, who, by a resolution of the [56] association, were invited to a seat in its counsels: Walter Scott, Samuel Holmes, William West, and Sidney Rigdon.

      There were present, also, J. Merrill, John Secrest, and Joseph Gaston, advocates of the gospel among the "Christian" fraternity. These brethren were, by resolution, made equally welcome to the sittings of the association.

      The following petition from the church in Braceville, Trumbull County, sent by the hand of Bro. Osborne, was received and entertained:

      "We wish that this association may take into serious consideration the peculiar situation of the churches of the association, and if it would be a possible thing for an evangelical preacher to be employed to travel and teach among the churches, we think that a blessing would follow."

      The action of this convention of churches in relation to this subject, is reported as follows:

      "Voted, That all the teachers of Christianity present, be a committee to nominate a person to travel and labor among the churches, and to suggest a plan for the support of the person so appointed."

      The preachers present composing this committee, were the following: Adamson Bentley, Joab Gaskill, Jacob Osborne, A. Campbell, Abijah Sturdevant, Walter Scott, Samuel Holmes, William West, Sidney Rigdon, J. Merrill, John Secrest, Joseph Gaston--twelve; besides, Darwin Atwater, Zeb. Rudolph, and John Jackman, who soon after became prominent as teachers of the gospel. Let us now hear their unanimous report:

      "The committee, to which was referred the nomination [57] of a person to labor among the churches, and to recommend a plan for his support, reported as follows:

      "1. That Bro. Walter Scott is a suitable person for the task, and that he is willing, provided the association concur in his appointment, to devote his whole energies to the work.

      "2. That voluntary and liberal contributions be recommended to the churches for creating a fund for his support.

      "3. That at the discretion of Bro. Scott, as far as respects time and place, four quarterly meetings for public worship, be held in the bounds of the association this year; and at these meetings such contributions as have been made, in the churches in those vicinities, be handed over to Bro. Scott, and an account be kept of the same to be produced at the next association; also, that at any time and in any church, when and where Bro. Scott may be laboring, any contributions made to him shall be accounted for to the next association.

      "Voted, That the above report, in all its items, be adopted."

      These men were devoutly in earnest in their purpose. An extract from the records is instructive on this point:

      "Met Lord's day at sunrise, in the Baptist meeting-house, for prayer and praise, and continued till eight o'clock."

      They were not sleepy drones. The morning sun, at his rising, found them assembled in prayer. Three hours and more they lifted to the Mercy-seat their suppliant appeals, while praises went to the third heaven from souls all dewy with the morning grace, which came plentifully upon them. Great and glorious epochs in the kingdom are the birth of great prayer. [58]

      "Met again in the Presbyterian meeting-house, Lisbon, where, after public worship, Bro. Jacob Osborne delivered a discourse, Heb. 1st chapter. He was followed by Bro. A. Campbell, who delivered a discourse on Good Works, predicated upon the last paragraph of the Sermon on the Mount, and the conclusion of Matt. 25th chapter.

      "After a recess of a few minutes, and the immersion of some disciples in the creek, the brethren met at the Baptist meeting house and broke bread, after which they dispersed, much comforted and edified by the exercises of the day."

      This association deserves much more than a passing notice. It was the first ecclesiastical body in modern times, which, transcending the limits of its own constitutional prerogatives, initiated a movement exactly conformed to the word of God, and utterly disentangled from all sectarian restraints. Let us pause to consider its action:

      1. The association threw open its doors, and brought in, as a composite element, disciples of Christ, ministers of another ecclesiastical connection, making these ministers fully equal in its action; thus setting aside its denominational character, and standing on the broad, firm charter of the Christian religion alone. These men were of the "Christian connection," and the most that was known of either party respecting the other was that each respectively was zealously, and conscientiously engaged in preaching the gospel as he best understood it. Here was a practical exhibition of the union of Christians for a common purpose.

      2. Here was the appointment of an evangelist in the pure New Testament idea of that official minister [59] by the concurrent action of the ministry of a given district of country. In this it took upon itself the new duty of establishing and regulating an evangelical agency, or ministry.

      3. This association, like all others, had restricted its action to sundry ecclesiastical matters, making no provision for evangelical operations. Its duty was mainly the care of churches, responding to questions, and hearing cases of appeal; affairs which churches can manage more successfully at home. This association assumed a new power, and with this higher prerogative, entered upon the discharge of a far higher and wider responsibility. And what was it? Simply to revive the work laid by divine authority upon its hand at the beginning, to "preach the gospel to every creature." This pure, simple, most significant act was here for the first time performed by a body of churches assembled in delegate capacity. The selection of an evangelist to travel among the congregations of a given district, clothing him with power to set things in order, to preach the gospel, and by every means to promote the work of Christ, deserves the clearest and most emphatic statement as a direct, practical measure in restoring the apostolic order to the world.

      4. No one church assumed the grave responsibility of selecting, authorizing, and sending forth an evangelist. The suggestion for such an appointment, while coming from one of the churches, at the instance of a wise preacher among them, was, by the association, wisely and properly referred to the ministers of the gospel for full consideration and final action. And their action in the premises, duly taken and [60] declared, received the cordial indorsement and acquiescence of all the churches represented.

      5. But, further, the association bound its evangelist by no doctrinal restrictions or limitations. No creed basis, no confession of doctrines, no articles of belief: he was simply to "preach the word."

      This was a bold and untried step. It was a long step toward Mount Zion. But it was a safe step, as the Scriptures can lead no one astray; and, also, it was the only method of bringing about the restoration of original Christianity in fact, in faith, and in form, in letter, in spirit, and in practice.


      Walter Scott was born in Moffat, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, October 31, 1796. His father, John Scott, a gentleman of fine culture, was a professor of music. His mother, Mary Innes Scott, was a person of most pure life, and eminently religious. They had ten children, five sons and five daughters; Walter was the sixth child.

      A remarkable providence is related as occurring in connection with the death of his parents. His father went to the town of Annan on business of his profession, and died there suddenly. Mrs. Scott was so deeply affected by the intelligence of his demise, that she died immediately, and was buried with him in the same grave.

      He had a maternal uncle in the custom-house, in the city of New York, who held his situation for thirty years under all the changes of administration. The death of this man was also remarkable. He died on his knees while in prayer.

      The Scott family were all strict members of the Kirk of Scotland. Walter Scott early displayed the fine qualities of character for which he afterwards became conspicuous. [61] He was intellectual, sensitive, tender-hearted, and pious. He was educated in the University of Edinburgh.

      A characteristic incident is related concerning him which occurred while he was pursuing his collegiate studies. When about sixteen he walked out one evening into the city, and not returning as soon as his parents expected, at a late hour they sent his older brother James in search of him. James explored the city diligently, but failed to find him till long after midnight. He found him in the midst of a crowd singing the popular Scottish airs, collecting money in this way for a poor blind beggar. When accosted by his brother, he seemed not aware of the lateness of the hour, so completely was his young and benevolent heart interested in procuring relief for the needy man.

      On invitation of his uncle in New York, George Innes, Esq., he crossed the ocean. He resided awhile in his uncle's family, and also, for a time, taught a classical school on Long Island. With the spirit of adventure, common to the young, he came to Pittsburgh, crossing the mountains afoot in company with a young companion. He soon made the acquaintance of a fellow-countryman, Mr. George Forrester, in whose family he found a welcome and for considerable time a home. Mr. Forrester was a preacher of the Haldanean school, who had prepared for the ministry in the institution established in Scotland by the celebrated Robert and James Alexander Haldane, for educating young men for the preaching of the gospel. He was conducting a school, and also preaching to a small membership whom he had collected together. The friendly hearts of these men, as well as the tie of nationality, created a warm attachment between them. Mr. Scott was here invited to the examination of the claims of pedobaptism, in which he had been trained up. He had too much reverence for the authority of God's Word to resist its teaching; so after a full search for scriptural authority for this practice of his church, and finding none, he abandoned it as a defenseless relic of the [62] Papacy; and, accordingly was immersed by his friend Mr. Forrester.

      The new views which presented themselves to him by this new search of the Holy Scriptures, and the fresh interest awakened by them in a mind naturally inquisitive and greatly devoted to religious pursuits, give him a powerful impulse to farther scriptural investigations. He rapidly outstripped his teachers. He was not long in acquiring a wonderful store of knowledge of the Christian religion. He opened a classical and English high school; but the duties of that profession, a profession in which he was eminently successful, did not interfere with his assiduous prosecution of the systematic study of the Bible.

      About this time, at one of Mr. Campbell's visits to the city of Pittsburgh, he and Mr. Scott became personally acquainted. By reputation they were not strangers. These men discovered in each other so many admirable and brilliant qualities of character, intellectual and social, that a lasting friendship was formed between them. This coalescence of feeling, however, was quite as much the result of the coincidence of their conclusions on great scriptural themes; their agreement in the power of the gospel to recover Christendom from its numberless sects and divisions; and to restore the unity of the "faith once delivered to the saints." From that day they were mutual co-operants in the common cause of re-proclaiming to the world the gospel as it began in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the Lord's ascension.

      Mr. Campbell, at the time of his introduction to Scott, was about issuing a monthly, designed to develop the truth of the gospel, and to plead for the union of Christians on Bible grounds. Mr. Scott fell in with the proposition, and espoused the scheme. Mr. Campbell proposed the name "The Christian," as a suitable title for his new periodical. Mr. Scott thought "The Christian Baptist" would be a title more likely to win an immediate hearing. This [63] was agreed upon. And in the very beginning of that masterly work, the grand triumvirate, Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott appeared side by side as contributors to its pages. The appearance of that periodical, August, 1823, forms a marked epoch in the public announcement of the principles of a much-needed reformation. Mr. Scott remained yet a few years in Pittsburgh, where he became acquainted, and for a time associated, with Sidney Rigdon, then pastor of a small Baptist church in the city. The two communions, that under Rigdon and the company to whom Scott preached, united together and became one body.

      Early in 1827 we find him in Steubenville, established in the academy, as already related. He had issued a prospectus, and was on the eve of commencing the publication of the "Millennial Herald," to be devoted to the statement and defense of the gospel, and to the publication of views of the millennium, in which he had become much interested.

      "The heart of man deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps." A foreseeing providence was preparing a far different theater for the display of his remarkable talents, and was at the same time preparing him for that field. This was the work of an evangelist opened for him in New Lisbon; which, after some persuasion, he accepted with all his heart. His great powers were now plumed for great purposes. Here was scope and comprehension for his gifts of oratory, of argumentation, and persuasion. All his talents for analysis and classification were here to find amplest scope and fullest display. Many and glorious events were born the day that the arrangement was completed to send Scott forth to preach the gospel; the gospel long thought to be a mystery, but soon to come as a revelation to the people.

      The history of this extraordinary man is in the pages that follow; rather, in the mighty revolution in religious society in America, which, like a majestic stream, is [64] widening and deepening in its flow; a revolution to which he has contributed very much by his discoveries in Bible truth, and by his powers of eloquence and argument in presenting and defending it before the people.

      His style was chaste and classical. He was a man of great faith, and of a most lovable and gentle spirit. In discourse he was often bold as a lion; yet he as often played among lambs. He came before the world with a mission on his soul; the restoration of the gospel plea, the "advocacy," as he termed it. He affirmed that the gospel contains an advocacy for converting sinners to Christ. This appeal, with its appointed conditions of pardon, constituted Scott's special mission to the men of this generation. Long and faithfully did he conduct the high argument; and many thousands of his beloved Master's children will rise up and bless his memory.

      He fell asleep, full of faith and hope, at his residence in Mayslick, Ky., Tuesday evening, April 23, 1861, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.


      After his appointment Scott lost no time in preparation for his new duty. Giving up both his paper and his academy, and leaving his family in Steubenville, he was almost immediately on the territory he was to traverse. Great hopes were entertained of the results of his labors. Yet no man, himself not excepted, had any adequate conception of the great and unparalleled blessings which were in store for the people within that year.

      The first of the quarterly meetings recommended in the report of the committee at New Lisbon, was held in Braceville, then the residence of Jacob Osborne, the brother who moved the association to [65] appoint an "evangelical preacher." Bro. Marcus Bosworth also resided in Braceville, a young preacher of warm heart and of sweet and winning speech. It was Lord's day, September 16, 1827. It was largely attended, and was prolific in important results. The principal preachers were Scott, Bentley, and Osborne. Darwin Atwater, whose clear, personal recollections avouch this record, was also present, with others from abroad. The principles of reform were making constant and sure progress in many places, though they were yet encumbered and delayed by the cautious prudence of some, and by the opposition of others. The leading steps of its march are susceptible of historic record. The first distinctive position assumed was the plea for the union of Christians on apostolic ground. This, as a consequence, directed an enfilading fire against the works in which the creed power was intrenched. Creeds, confessions of faith as terms of membership and communion, articles of church government separate from the New Testament, and distinctive of the sect, with all that pertained to them, were gradually losing ground; while at the same time, as a correlative part of the plea, the fullness, sufficiency, plainness, and authority of the word of God for all the purposes of faith and practice, were urged with a great variety of argument, illustration, and Scripture testimony.

      Closely allied to this came, secondly, the whole subject of conversion, regeneration, and evidence of pardon. The theory of metaphysical regeneration, brought into the church by St. Augustine, in the fourth century, formed into system by the equally illustrious Calvin, of the sixteenth century, and [66]

      lingering in most of the modern standards of orthodoxy, was put to the most rigid test of the word of God. This involved the whole subject of spiritual influence and illumination. And while the reformers maintained, on Scripture grounds, a firm belief in the converting power of the Holy Spirit, and his actual presence in the hearts of Christians, they asserted that the work of conversion was wrought through the knowledge and belief of the gospel. As the Holy Scriptures were the only guide, practices untaught therein were repudiated as of human origin, and dangerous to the peace and purity of the church. On this ground, infant church-membership was delivered back to the papacy, whence it originated, with "confirmation," its consequent and complement, sponsorship, and whatever depended upon this postscript to the apostolic gospel. Conversion without faith is impossible; but faith comes of testimony--divine testimony, the word of God. Rom. x: 17. But this must be preached; and so it is the preaching of the gospel which produces faith in Jesus Christ.

      A link was yet wanting to complete the theory of salvation. That the sufferings of Christ are the procuring cause of pardon, was clearly asserted. Faith, involving a personal trust in Jesus Christ, was becoming equally clear and well established in the widening plea. But what is the evidence of pardon? the "witness," the assurance of the penitent sinner's acceptance? "Experience!" Yes; but experiences are both variable, as different persons "experience a hope" at different places and by different processes, and fallible as these experiences are formed according [67] to the models of teaching under which the convert has been trained. Cases are numerous and painful in which after years of agonizing self-abasement, the load of conscious sins still lies on the heart. A large number of professing Christians are subject to conflicting doubt, and harassed with distressing uncertainty of their acceptance; very many "seek" on in silent, despairing darkness; not a few throw themselves into the vortex of infidelity, while some lose their reason in the fruitless search for the evidence that God has spoken peace to their souls.

      Has the gospel, perfect in all its provisions, complete in all its appointments for salvation, left this one point without a testimony--without a provided assurance? Does God in his gospel show sinners their danger, arouse them by faith to flee from "the wrath to come," lead them to repentance by the sufferings of his Son, and when they come crying for mercy, is this same gospel unfurnished with a provision special to this very need, which shall uniformly and unfailingly meet them with the needed assurance of pardon?

      The divine testimony had not been explored in vain touching this point. In essays, in debate, in conversations, the unequivocal declaration of the new Institution had been brought out to view, that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ was ordained by him, for bringing the actual believer in him, penitent for his sins, into this new relation, and for giving him the knowledge of pardon by the promises of the new covenant. This had been ably set forth from the commission, from Acts ii: 38, and many other New Testament authorities. [68]

      Yet who in those days, having discovered this established scriptural connection, had ventured to apply this truth to the relief of mourning sinners?

      Theory before practice: yet practice is often tardy and tremulous. It is well; let it be cautious, and walk only on solid rocks, like the priests who stood on rocks in the midst of Jordan, while Israel all passed by into the promised land. A new light was dawning, and a farther glimpse into the light of the gospel was obtained at this meeting in Braceville.

      After the services of the day were over, Scott, Bentley, Osborne, and Atwater walked out together. Conversation turned on this subject. Bentley had preached on it. He urged that it was intended to bring penitent sinners to the immediate relief they sought, by bringing them into the new covenant, whose immediate and distinguishing blessing was the actual pardon of all past sins. Osborne, turning to Scott, asked him "if he had ever thought that baptism in the name of the Lord was for the remission of sins?" Holding himself somewhat in reserve, he intimated a desire for Osborne to proceed. "It is," said he, "certainly established for that purpose. It holds the same place under the gospel in relation to pardon, that the positive institution of the altar held to forgiveness under the law of Moses; under that dispensation the sinner offered the prescribed victim on the altar and was acquitted, pardoned through the merits of the sacrifice of Christ, of which his offering was a type. So under the gospel age, the sinner comes to the death of Christ, the meritorious ground of his salvation, through baptism, which is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus [69] Christ." "Very well," replied Scott, whose thoughts were very deeply engaged revolving the whole subject, "it is evidently so."

      After a little, Mr. Osborne remarked to Elder Bentley, "you have christened baptism to-day." "How so?" "You termed it a remitting ordinance."1 Bentley replied, "I do not see how we are to avoid the conclusion with the Bible in our hands."

      The second chapter of Acts of Apostles, it will be seen, was under constant and close scrutiny of investigation. It contains evidence of the coronation in heaven of the King of kings, with his royal proclamation of mercy, and terms of pardon to his rebellious subjects.

      These three preachers were again together soon after the events narrated above, when Bro. Osborne again introduced the design of baptism in public discourse, and remarked in the connection that the gift of the Holy Spirit is after conversion and baptism, and consequent upon them, citing the inspired words of the apostle Peter in Acts ii: 38, as proof: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

      After the meeting, Scott said to Osborne, "You are the boldest man I ever saw! Do n't you think so, Bro. Bentley?" "How so?" said Bentley. "Why he said in his sermon that no one had a right to expect the Holy Spirit till after baptism." Scott was a genius; often eccentric, often profoundly meditative. It may not be necessary, as perhaps it would [70] be impossible to tell, whether Mr. Scott was leading them, or they him, in those views. It is certain, however, that he had now premises sufficient for a generalization, which was soon to produce the most brilliant and unexpected results. In the powers of analysis and combination, he has rarely been equaled. Under his classification, the great elements of the gospel bearing on the conversion of sinners, assumed the following definite, rational, and scriptural order: (1) Faith; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism; (4) Remission of sins; (5) The Holy Spirit; (6) Eternal life, through a patient continuance in well doing.

      This arrangement of these themes was so plain, so manifestly in harmony with soundest reason, and so clearly correct in a metaphysical point of view, as well as sustained by the Holy Scriptures, that Scott was transported with the discovery. The key of knowledge was now in his possession. The points which before were dark or mysterious, were now luminous. It cleared away the mist, and let in the day just where all had struggled for ages, and many had stranded. The whole Scripture sorted itself into a plain and intelligible system in illustration and proof of this elementary order of the gospel. The darkened cloud withdrew. A new era for the gospel had dawned.

      So reasoned Scott. Moreover this discovery was most opportune as a preparation for his mission to which the association had called him, of preaching the gospel within its bounds. [71]

      1 Words were sometimes used in those days with less accuracy than in later times. [70]


[EHD 54-71]

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A. S. Hayden
Early History of the Disciples (1875)

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