What Calvinists say God loves the reprobate?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Trinity Apologetics, Sep 18, 2015.

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  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Your best option is to try and obtain a review copy for a magazine or journal or just wait until the book is remaindered.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
  2. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I don't know if you're using the second person here to refer to me but I'm simply trying to deal with a complex issue in the complexity that it comes at us.

    The issue of Arminians was brought up by the OP and as much as we quote Calvin or the Puritans on the need to prolifically proclaim the Gospel of the Father's offer of salvation to all and that this is the love of God revealed then I'm merely pointing out that they will not accept this as love if they insist upon an indiscriminate love that God shows all men equally or it is no love at all. I'm not so much interested in scoring points or determining how I'm going to preach a sermon in response to this but simply ensuring people are aware of this. I don't need to change anything about how much I plead with sinners or apologize to them about whether God has an electing love that is irrelevant to the point of whether, Today, if they hear His voice they are not to harden their hearts. I leave such things to the Spirit.

    With respect to the "Reformed" you seem to say "err", what I'm trying to determine is whether you actually sweep Calvin into that group for the distinctions he himself makes or if there is a "Calvin vs the Calvinists" or "Puritans against some Reformed people today" thing going on.

    We can all agree that God's love is expressed in anthropopathetic language in the call for the repentance of sinners in the offer of the Gospel. We can even agree that there is a love and benevolence that is wide and free for sin-cursed humanity in the sending of the Son. If we left it at that then there would be no debates.

    What I sense you're calling "error" is when people get into discussions trying to unpack the first two types of love that Calvin describes and some insist there needs to be something of that third type of love "flowing into" the first two types of love for the first two types of love to be "sincere" and "well meant".

    Thus, when you quote a bunch of things that all agree upon - the first two kinds of love that Calvin notes above and describes them as such, you're not necessarily showing others as being in error. The real question (which I'm not sure you've addressed yourself) is whether "well meant offer" means more than what Calvin and the Puritans seemed to agree upon - a conditional promise made prolifically. It's when we get to unconditional Promises that things get dicey and we need to sort out whether someone has defined "well meant offer" in a different manner.

    I know this is terribly tedious and I'm not trying to be tedious but the discussion about the necessity of limited atonement is fruitful because the unconditional Promise of faith has consequences in whether we can produce a kind of faith that some would say we have to exercise in order for God's offer to be "sincere" so these aren't simply academic discussions or a test of oneupsmanship.
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Hi Rich. No, I am not referring to you when I use the second person. I recently met several "Hard-Shell Baptists" who deny that God in any way at all loves the non-elect. They also denied common grace. These Hardshellers seemed even more grievous to me than the ignorant Arminian who mistakenly believes that there is no discrimination in God's love but that God loves everyone the same way.

    I don't think you are being tedious; I think some nuance is needed as you state above, so that folks don't fall into the mistaken belief that God loves everyone the same (which seems to lead to the conclusion that any difference in eternal destinies then is not due to discrimination in the love of God, but determined by some act on the part of the sinner). By the Reformed that "err" I refer to Hoeksema and his tribe.

    Calvin and others referred to a general or paternal love of a Creator to his creation. God loves mankind. God loves the world. I have supplied quotes and my purpose is not to score points but to demonstrate that the majority Reformed position sides with me that God does, in fact, love the non-elect (though, of course, we must define that love carefully). Even whole denominations have written position papers on this, like the OPC, where the majority position is precisely what I am asserting (though, admittedly, there is also a well-written minority report in that position paper as well).

    To go further, it was not merely that Calvin and others believed that God gave promises to those who believed. As you have said, this is agreed upon by all. I further believe that these offers were "well-meant" and sincere offers. God wants people to be saved. Turretin seems to indicate as much in the link above. And Calvin says the following:

    and Matthew Henry in his commentary says the following:

    Those two quotes are what I believe.

    My goal is not one-upmanship. I believe this issue has HUGE implications for missions. My goal for defending this doctrine (despite your seeming assertion that it makes no difference in determining evangelistic zeal) is to preserve one of the motivations for missions. It seems a terrible inconsistency for God's missionaries (who desire to mirror the heart of God) to sincerely desire the salvation of the lost, and for God not to do the same.

    While many will say that this doctrine does not impact missions or churches as we go out and declare the promises to all nations, I have yet to see a proportionate missions effort by those who deny the well-meant offer when compared with those who do. I am sure there are some churches who follow Hoeksema who are actively engaged in missions, but the Arminians, who err the other direction as concerning the love of God, put us to shame in their mission efforts. ...And the Hard-shell baptists of 200 years ago who denied such things in England prior to Fuller and Carey served to produce a spiritual "dunghill" as Andrew Fuller described it... before he wrote his great work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The human race does not perish, as was noted the last time this quotation was brought to our attention.

    The use of an indefinite universal does not prove a particular universal. The proposition, Christ came into the world to save sinners, does not entail that Christ came into the world to save each and every individual sinner.
  5. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Just ran across this today, from William Perkins, Commentary on Rev. 3:

    Vers. 20. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in unto him, and will sup with him, and he with me."​

    In the words of this verse, there be two signs of his love set down. First, a hearty desire of their conversion, which He earnestly seeks: Secondly, a promise of mutual fellowship after their conversion. The first, in these words; Behold, I stand at the door and knock: In this desire, Christ expresses two things; First, that this Church (if we regard the greatest part thereof) had no true fellowship with Christ, nor Christ with them; for He stands at the door of their hearts, which were closed up against Him. This may seem strange, but the case is evident: for though they had in them many good things; as knowledge of God's will, and did profess the Gospel, and were partakers of the signs and seals of the Covenant of grace; yet they were tainted with this notorious sin of Luke-warmness, which closed up the door of their heart against Christ and barred him out.


    "And knock." Here is a further signification of his desire of their conversion. Wherein we may behold his great & unspeakable mercy towards this Church, and in them towards all other his Children. This Church had bard out Christ by their sins: and yet he pursues them, He knocks; He uses means to enter for [?] good; and vouchsafes them mercy...​

  6. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    If we are to imitate Paul, as he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), how do we have an example of what the gospel offer looks like if Christ didn't sincerely offer it to all? If Christ didn't sincerely offer it, I guess we need to look to Paul for an example, not to Christ.

    I'm thankful for the desire of all on PB to proclaim the word of God freely regardless of their stance on the free offer. However, for those two deny the sincere offer as coming from God, I wonder how their position affects their evangelism when they don't have a divine example to look upon?
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The Christ who is on the throne in heaven is the same God-man who wept over Jerusalem and stated a desire to gather her. I don't think his tears were a charade.
  8. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Great point Pergamum.

    Anthony Burgess the Westminster divine agrees:

    ...grant the Text [Eze. 33:11] to be comprehensive of Eternal death, as many other places are; such that, God would not have any to perish, but come to the knowledge of the truth, &c. 1 Tim. 2.:4. Then the answer is known, which may easily be made good, though it be not my work now, God has an approving will, and an effective or decreeing will. God’s approving will is carried out to the objects, as good in it self; but Gods Effective will is, when He intends to bring a thing about. God had an approving will, that Adam should stand, therefore He gave him a command, and threatened him if he did fall; yet He had not an effective will, to make him to stand, for then who could have hindered it? Thus Christ’s tears over Jerusalem (How often would I have gathered thee, and thou wouldest not?) were not Crocodiles’ tears (as some say the Calvinists make them) for though Christ, as God, had not decreed the conversion of the Jews, yet the thing it self was approved of, and commanded, and he as the Minister of the New Testament, affectionately desired it: So here in the Text, God by this pathetical expression, does declare, how acceptable and desireable a thing it is in itself, that the Jews should be converted; how distasteful and unpleasant their damnation was: therefore mark the expression, He does not say, I do not will the death of the wicked, but I have no pleasure in it: And if that of the Arminians be true, that God does effectually will the conversion of all, why then are not all converted? Who hath resisted his will? but I intend grapes, and not thorns; practical not controversal matter from this Text.

    Spiritual Refining, Sermon 66, “Showing that the Damnation of Wicked Men is unpleasing to God, and that which He delights not in.” p. 403-408

    Anthony Burgess on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This, together with the commission to preach the gospel to every creature, suffices to provide a lively example and the strongest motivation to all ministers of the New Testament to desire, pray for, and seek after the salvation of lost sinners. There is no reason to go further and search out the unsearchable counsel of God.
  10. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Of this I agree in that He wept then, though does He weep now?
  11. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Heb. 13:8)
  12. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    He is not being born now; He is not ministering to the Jews on earth now; He is not stilling the water now; He is not praying in Gethsemane now; He is not dying on Calvary now; He is not rising from the dead now; He is not ascending into heaven now.
  13. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Nor is He weeping now. Our Pastors are charged with the proclamation of The Gospel now and I shall weep with and pray for them as they do such.
  14. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Correct. He is now sitting at the right hand of God, which, according to the Larger Catechism, means "that as God-man He is advanced to the highest favour with God the Father, with all fulness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth." It will be wonderful to enter into the joy of the Lord, when He shall wipe away all tears from our eyes!
  15. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    This is a good example of how the Puritans could speak boldly without also sacrificing certain Truths.

    What's interesting in these discussions is how people will equivocate and acknowledge in one part of a discussion that there are some distinctions to be made about how God loves but then call to task those who make those distinctions.

    Here's a good example. Are you quoting this, Travis, because you agree or disagree with Matthew? I ask because if you're disagreeing with Matthew then you ought not to have posted something that agrees with the point he is trying to make.

    Notice the distinction that Burgess makes about the kind of will it is that expresses a desire in God that is real. It is the same distinction we've been making all along about a type of love for the lost that is expressed in the manner than Calvin did - a love for the world at large, a love expressed to those who hear the Gospel, and a love specifically for the elect. Yet the first two types of love are what Burgess calls a "pathetical expression" - the thing is true in iself that the Jews should be converted. Thus, Burgess notes that it is real concern for people based on a revealed desire (that is God has revealed a call to sinners to repent).

    That revealed desire that God has for men to repent is sufficient for us. It is sufficient that God has called us to preach to sinners and that He has loved the world and sinners and sent the Gospel into the world to redeem.

    The moment we start asking about "how much" God loves those people or start asking questions of decree and hidden things is when we get into trouble. We don't need to know, as creatures, how God really "feels" about people in order to be sorrowful that the wicked should perish. God, as He is in Himself, is not our example. We are creatures. It is enough to know that what has been revealed is the repentance of sinners and a desire that men would come to salvation.

    It seems to me that when we start claiming that it's not enough that God's love is shown to sinners by sending His Son into the world and sending His Gospel forward then we're getting into the same kind of trouble that others are. For we also believe that God's decree does not depend upon the will of the creature and His fore-love of the elect is very precious and specific. We also, in pathetic language, have this fore-love of the elect compared to reprobation to the point that it says that God "hates" those He passes over. Thus, we twist ourselves in pretzels when we try to press things too hard and start lecturing each other that you can't possibly be motivated to preach profusely until we know the true mind of God and what it "really" means that He desires the repentance of others.

    I think Burgess' explanation is perfectly sound but I see others not content here and push God's desire past what Burgess is saying or even Calvin and keep mixing in other kinds of love and desire in God. If they believe in those kinds of desires then they ought not be using Calvin or Burgess or others to support that notion.

    I can (and do) care about the lost and I think that God's revealed desire for sinners shows more love than I'm capable of mustering. It is sufficient for me as His creature to preach the Word, pleading with real tears that men would repent.
  16. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Here is a curious quote by R.L. Dabney:


    I am not sure what I think of that quote. But, I do believe that the actions of Jesus show us the nature of God, such that his affections for even the lost are significant, especially since He has revealed a desire to save and a paternal fatherly love to all of creation. Christ's actions are a model to us, and He wept over the lost and desired to gather them. As Dabney queries, are we to believe that "humanity is more generous and tender than God"? Yes, there are degrees of love and desire, yet it seems that God loves all and desires their good (though not always to the point of saving them).
  17. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    At the end of the day I think this is the issue that we're trying to wrestle with. There is an inscrutability to the will of God that He loves His creation but He has chosen some for redemption but passed over others to remain objects of His wrath. I think it unhealthy, theologically speaking, to make the basis of our compassion on anything other than the revealed will that God's love for sinner is manifest in His sending of the Son and gives us sufficient motivation to hate to think that any should perish. Let God be God in election.

    While I don't think I disagree sharply with Dabney as far as it goes, we can also see from divine Revelation a hatred and judgment for sin. There is a fearful sense of the wrath that abides upon sin throughout the Scriptures. In my daily Scripture reading today I was reading of the judgment of Saul's descendants because Saul had slaughtered a bunch of Gibeonites and it makes one wince to think that 7 descendants of Saul were demanded by the Gibeonites because of a famine on the land due to Saul's sin. What families might have died during the famine? Do we think it horrific that Saul's descendants would be hanged for something he did? Shifting to other portions of Scripture - what of the judgment on Jericho meted out by the Israelites?

    Christ came into the world not to judge because the world was already under judgment. Even as we look on the work of Christ as coming into a world of darkness so that the kindness of God was expressed against the backdrop of a Curse that He Himself had subjected creation to, we must not forget that the Curse is a manifestation of the will of God toward sin as well.

    In a sense, then, we can see the love of God expressed in the sending of the Son and His willingness to save sinners. Thus we know we can have compassion and truly weep for them as Christ did. But, we can also press this too hard and conclude this is the only disposition that the Triune God has toward sinners because we also know that the wrath of God abides and that, by nature, men are children of wrath. It's not our station to imitate God in His wrath toward sin because He doesn't need our help. Our ministry is the ministry of reconciliation and so we call sinners to repentance. We don't want to conclude, however, that the Curse that abides is something that God is ultimately "at odds". It's not as if God is against a Curse that is somebody else's Curse. It's not as if He's upset that some other actor has Cursed or that some other actor is the most ultimate enemy of sinners. He, Himself, is at enmity with sin.

    I'm not as eloquent as others and forgive me for rambling as I try to articulate but I'm perfectly comfortable with the manner that Calvin and the Puritans articulated this. We simply don't need to try to sort the complexity of God's emotional life and how He views sinners both as objects of His wrath and those to Whom Christ came to save. It is sufficient that ours is a ministry of reconciliation and so our calling is to be focused not on the condemnation of sinners but the proclamation of the work of Christ that reconciles sinners to God.
  18. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You're not rambling. I think I get your concerns, and I think I agree.
  19. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior


    Thank you for trying to bring closure to this. I also appreciate how are are careful not to look to far into "the complexity of God's emotional life."

    I think one of the difficulties of this conversation is in the extent of the word "sinners." At bottom, not all in this conversation are agreed as to the extent of this category. Some are wanting to say that He desires the repentance of all indefinitely, meaning that this expression does not apply to every individual sinner. Others are arguing that in a real sense He desires the repentance of every sinner according to His revealed will.

    The difference seems to be in this: 1. Those who promote sinners as an indefinite category mean to say that He desires the salvation of the elect alone, but since "sinners" is a comprehensive term encompassing all of mankind, the term becomes indefinite so that it can be reconciled to God's decree to save the elect. 2. On the other side, those who promote that He has a revealed desire to save sinners use the term "sinners" to comprehend all sinners. In other words, those who would agree with the second description are not trying to reconcile this desire with His decree, which is also biblically called His desire.

    When we look at reformed writings, there is not consensus on this issue.

    As a firm advocate for a sincere desire in God for the repentance of all sinners, what most concerns me about this conversation is in relation to the idea that Christ's weeping over Jerusalem is being promoted as a kind of temporary disposition. If Christ is the image of the invisible God, was He not representing God in His disposition? The Belgic says that "these two natures [human, divine] are so closely united in one Person that they were not separated even by His death" (Article 19). If anything about Christ can be attributed to the human nature, it would be His death. But the confession is careful not even to separate His divine nature from the human when the human nature died. Therefore, if Christ represented only a temporary disposition, it seems that we charge Him with a changeable nature and sever the human from the divine.

    The union of His two natures surpasses all understanding, but let's not let our finite little minds get in the way of what is revealed.

    I don't think anyone is intentionally separating the human and divine natures, but I just wanted to voice what deeply concerns me about this thread.
  20. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Tim I agree that there is much disagreement within the reformed on this issue and that "issue" is posting a desire in God that is unfulfilled. So far as separating the human nature of Jesus from the divine nature we must not separate but in saying this we must also distinguish between them. This is one area that the reformed should shine like a beacon of light in the world and unfortunately it is becoming dimmer because of the issue of whether God has passions. I know this is a difficult area that In my most humble opinion our pastors avoid teaching such because of two possible reasons. The first is they do not believe God is without passions or that they do not really understand this issue enough to covey it to the sheep. The second issue is they are afraid to speak bluntly on this issue because of the pastoral heart they have. Allow me speak bluntly, there is no such thing of the "emotional life of God" and also when Jesus died His human soul or spirit went to heaven and that human part of his human nature did not die. I wish not to offend you in any way but my conscience on this issue compels me to respond as one layman to another and your post here defines the error in your thinking on this issue. Once again I mean no offence but only concern for what you believe.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2015
  21. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    I would note a few things.

    First, we can only know what God has revealed and since we cannot get specific into the Divine mind and determine how God views a particular sinner, in Himself, we're left with the revelation about how God views sinners and not specifics.

    I would also add that appealing to Jesus may actually prove the point. Christ wept over Jerusalem but He was also very sharp toward the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes. There are plenty oracles of woe and imprecatory Psalms to reveal that the disposition toward specific people is not always one of weeping. Christ commanded His own disciples to shake the dust off their feet when a person would not welcome them. Paul was very sharp in his condemnation of Judaizers. It's not as if we can unequivocally state that, even from a human standpoint, each and every sinner's rebellion is to be viewed with weeping.

    Again, these are complex issues but we need to remember that there is an inscrutability in the Divine will. Unless we want to take the Barthian route to make the Logos incarnate's passions be taken up into the nature of the Godhead itself we need to be careful as to how much we assert that Jesus' emotions and reactions are templates for how we understand God's will.

    I also think that it's important to remember the quotes provided in this thread about the Puritans and Calvin make clear that a consistent distinction is made about the nature of God's love toward sinners is evident. It is found not in peering into things hidden about how the Godhead really sorts out condemnation/Gospel offer but in the historical Revelation that we have access to by creatures that we can see the love of God manifest in the ministry of reconciliation.

    Just to note a practical example, the issue of how we comfort believers who have lost their infant children came up at a Presbytery exam today in the committee I participate in. I was exhorting the candidate that we err if we start getting into the decree and noting that we can't have perfect assurance that a child is saved because we don't know the mind of God. That's not even how we know whether we are truly saved. I told him that we need to fall back on God's promise that He would be God to us and our children. That promise is sufficient to give grieving parents assurance that they need not doubt the salvation of their infant child who died.

    In like manner, the promulgation of the Gospel is sufficient evident to sinners that God is sincere in His offer to save sinners without having to delve into the mysteries of the Divine mind to determine whether He has specific interest in a particular individual and just "how much" interest that entails.
  22. AJ Castellitto

    AJ Castellitto Puritan Board Freshman

    I believe this is the problem with leading with strong meat..... Election is Gods business, I'm not going to try to place limitations on the extent of His grace based on hidden decrees.... This is futile territory. And is why guys like Beeke and Calvin don't always sound so Calvinistic and that is not always such a bad thing.... Know your theology but leave room for Gospel
  23. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Who are the many going on the 'broad way that leads to destruction' if God's gift of faith leading to salvation is universal ? Matthew 7:13,14
  24. AJ Castellitto

    AJ Castellitto Puritan Board Freshman

    This topic/thread is paradox territory......

    In scriptures the triune God is often furious with the unrepentant & rebellious.... So the blame falls on the shoulders of the rebellious not the hidden elective decrees of God..... So we are the issue here.... That's the starting point, not the hidden but the revealed. Obviously God also mentions many places how 'they' were never of us ..... So we know there is an elect...... I've ran in circles where we never got past election. We waited around for some type of evidence of being chosen... There is much danger in that. The door is wide open for those willing to take the narrow way. If God didn't love us then what was Jesus for? Now, what will we do with this truth? He came down for us and we have an obligation to respond..... That's the bottom line. I no longer argue strong meat with babes..... I've broken out of that cage
  25. AJ Castellitto

    AJ Castellitto Puritan Board Freshman

    who here mentioned universalism? Arminians don't even believe that
  26. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)



  27. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Do we imagine that Jesus as perfect man loves those whom Jesus as God does not love?

    One should love all men the same way Our Lord Jesus did while He was on earth. In saying this I would predicate this love according to His humanity in that He could weep over Jerusalem with a sincere desire that they should come to repentance. Now in saying this Jesus does not weep today in heaven as the resurrected savior even though His will has not changed so far as to what all men should do. I think the desire of His humanity in heaven is different in that any emotion expressed by Him now is nothing but one of complete "fullness and joy" which was swallowed up in victory and which is enjoyed with all the saints who also only experience the same emotion without weeping.

    Would God command us to love in a way that He does not?

    We no doubt should love all men with the resignation that it is only by His decretive will that any should come to repentance and faith. So even though we love all men with the hope that they should come to Him we should understand our hope is subservient to His decretive will.

    Would God demand that our love be more far-reaching than His own?

    It appears that Pastor MacArthur may be confusing the human nature of Jesus in His earthly ministry with His resurrected human nature today. I say this in that it appears Pastor MacArthur is mixing up the idea of common grace and saving grace.

    And did Christ, having loved all humanity during His earthly sojourn, then revert after His ascension to pure hatred for the non-elect? Such would be unthinkable; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever”

    As pointed out before Jesus is not the same in that He no longer weeps. Yes He is still human but that human nature is a victorious one that is different than one (nature) which suffered while here during His ministry. Was there a "revert"? No but there was a change in His human nature which no more suffers or weeps.
  28. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    I wasn't responding to your post previous to mine. Rather to some that have gone before. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the thrust of the argument, that God loves all mankind, and that all mankind is responsible to come to him. That is my interpretation of what some are stating. If that is the case, how can they expect someone 'dead in transgressions and sin' to overcome their blindness/hardness of heart, unless they are elect, and led by the Spirit ? 1 Corinthians 2:14 Perhaps I am mistaking the definition of universalism ?
  29. AJ Castellitto

    AJ Castellitto Puritan Board Freshman

    Theologically speaking, you are correct....
  30. AJ Castellitto

    AJ Castellitto Puritan Board Freshman

    For God so loved the world that WHOSOEVER..... Hidden decree..... He loves the elect for Jesus' sake and does not love those who are not in Jesus because they've not been reconciled.... It's not that hard... we are responsible & accountable.... And God holds all non reconciled sinners accountable for their hardened rebellion and animosity toward the righteousness of Christ
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
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