Lecture Delivered by Rev. H. Perkins

1840

Winchester, Benjamin Winchester, Benjamin

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Winchester, Benjamin. An Examination of a Lecture Delivered by the Rev. H. Perkins on the religious opinions and faith of the Latter-day Saints, and some of his most prominent errors and misstatements corrected, 1–12. 1840.

AN EXAMINATION

OF A LECTURE

DELIVERED BY THE REV. H. PERKINS

On the religious opinions and faith of the Latter-Day Saints, and some of his most prominent errors and misstatements corrected.

BY B. WINCHESTER, MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL.

ON Thursday, the seventh of May, A.D. 1840, I left Philadelphia, to visit my friends in the state of New Jersey. No sooner had I reached Cream Ridge, Monmouth county, than I was informed that the Rev. H. Perkins, a Presbyterian Priest, of Allentown, N. J., had made an appointment to deliver a public lecture on Sunday, May 10th, 1840, at four o’clock P.M., in Imlay’s Hill meeting house, refuting the doctrine, or tenets believed by the Latter Day-Saints, (Mormons.)

When the hour for meeting had come, several of my friends requested me to go with them and hear what the Rev. gentleman had to say: accordingly I went. The meeting was opened by singing and prayer. Mr. P. then arose and commenced his Lecture in a very sanctimonious way, and with a long face, (Pharisee like,) expressed his pretended desire that his auditors, together with himself, might be guided by truth and charity.

Indeed, from the drawing of his words, and his apparently half crying tone of voice, one who was not acquainted with the deception would have supposed he was all piety from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. During his lecture, with a pretended sympathy for the poor deluded Mormons, as he called them, and with this strange tone of voice, he described the awful delusions palmed upon the public by the Mormons. Some few of his female auditors, who sat near me, uttered some tremendous long sighs, as though they or some body else were on the eve of making an everlasting leap into eternity, to be tormented with the damned. In this theatrical way he endeavoured to work upon the animal feelings of his auditors: this also being his most effectual way in getting converts. And, of all the absurdity, contradiction, and nonsense, that I [1] ever heard drop from the lips of a man who professes literary talents, Mr. P’s. crowned the climax. And in consequence of his profession, and bold stand, against the faith of the Latter-Day Saints, I took my pencil and wrote all the heads of his discourse; also, several passages of Scriptures, that he applied as testimony: and by request, I set myself at work to publish them for the satisfaction of the people residing in the neighbourhood where this lecture was delivered. I do not say that I shall give his words in full; but the real sense and full extent of his assertions, I shall give. And if there is not that connection, there might have been; the reader will pardon me, for I wrote his assertions as he made them. But to proceed.

Text.—“ Thus saith the Lord God, woe unto the foolish Prophets, that follow their own spirit and have seen nothing.” Eze. xiii. 3.

Now Mr. P., you applied this text to the Mormons; and you also read the chapter as far as the ninth verse; but you were very careful not to read the tenth verse, which says those foolish prophets were to say peace, when there was no peace. God knows, and so does every body, that ever heard the Latter-Day Saints preach, that they do not cry peace and safety, when there is no peace; but to the contrary, they warn men to repent of their sins, and embrace the Gospel, and prepare for the second coming of Christ. It is known to every one that was present at your Lecture, that you cried peace to the Methodists, Baptists, and all others, whom you would call Orthodox Societies. Therefore your text, very appropriately applies to yourself.

“My brethren we have met to consider a new, and strange doctrine that has come to our ears,—They (the Mormons,) have a new bible, if true, we ought to know it.”

Now, Mr. P., I deny that we preach any new doctrine, because we preach verbatim the same doctrine that Christ and the Apostles preached. As for its being strange, it is what the Prophets have said concerning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the great work of the Lord in the last days. (See Isa. xxviii. 21, and xxix. 14, Hoseah, viii. 12.) We have no new bible, we are firm believers in the Old and New Testaments; we do not call the Book of Mormon a bible: therefore, Mr. P., you are guilty of falsehood.

“We find my brethren, that the New Testament, no where mentions that any true prophets were to come after the days of the Apostles; but plenty of false ones.”

Well done, Mr. P., who made you so wise as all this comes to? Those who profess to be so wise as you do, [2] ought to study the Scriptures more carefully, so as not to make such blunders. Let us see what the Apostles have said on this subject.

“And it shall come to pass in the last days saith God, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons, and your daughters shall prophecy.” Acts, ii. 17.

First, this Holy Spirit was poured out on the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost; second, Peter quotes the prophecy of Joel to convince the Jews that the apostles were not drunken; third, Peter adds his own words by way of prediction, “And it shall come to pass in the last days saith God:” consequently he referred it to a generation then unborn, when all shall have the spirit of prophecy; fourth, Peter promises this spirit on conditions of repentance and baptism, to all that are afar off.

Every man who makes the Bible his study knows what the effects of that spirit was, in the apostolic age of the world; and no man but a modern sectarian, like Mr. P., would have ever dreamed that the effects of the spirit were to be any different in the nineteenth century, from what they were in the days of the apostles. Therefore, here is positive testimony that there is to be both true prophets, and propheteses, in the last days. Peter and you are at war; therefore, see ye to it. For my part I don’t want to have any controversy with a man like Peter. Did you think, Mr. P. that your auditors were all blind, and because you professed so much wisdom, you could palm any deception upon them, no matter how absurd, without the least investigation? If you did, you were mistaken, for there were present men of intelligence, who have studied the Scriptures with care, and could instantaneously detect your falsehoods.

Jeremiah, speaking of the last days said, all shall know the Lord, from the least, unto the greatest. John says, in his Book of Revelations, that the angel showed him things which were to come; and one thing he saw was that those who had the mark of the beast, were to shed the blood of Saints and Prophets. Now these were to be true prophets, from the fact God is to visit the nations with his wrath for shedding their blood. It is also said in John’s Revelations, that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Then, Mr. P., if you deny the spirit of prophecy, you have neither the testimony of Jesus, nor the religion of heaven: consequently, you are in the gall of bitterness, and the bonds of iniquity, and woe be unto you if you repent not.

“I got from Sidney Rigdon’s own mouth the religious tenets of the Mormons.”

What if you did, is that any reason you should oppose [3] the Scriptures, and make so many assertions that are diametrically opposed to them. Indeed, sir, it is not Mormonism alone that is struggling beneath your infidel thrusts, but it is the whole truth of Heaven.

“They assert the Book of Mormon to be equal in authority with the Bible.”

If we do, God knows we have a good reason for it; for the prophets have testified that such a Book should come forth in the last days, (see Isa. xxix. 11, and Eze. xxxvii. 17.) and God has raised up men of undoubted veracity, who testify of these things to a certainty. If God sends forth another Book containing his word, and testifies from the heavens to the truth of the same, and causes it to be as well authenticated as any other revelations he has ever given, it certainly would be equal in authority with the Bible; or what authority has the Bible more than that?

“Those plates were brought to light in a strange way.”

We know they were according to your idea of the subject; for any thing like the administration of angels, and immediate revelation from God, appears strange to you, for you know nothing of any such things; but to the prophets and apostles, it would not be strange.

“The apostles took with them the original Hebrew, and Greek Scriptures, and showed them to the people.”

This is another specimen of your intelligence. Please refer me to the testimony you have to support such an assertion, either from sacred, or profane history; then I will believe it. If your assertion be true, the apostles had in their possession the tables of stone, written upon with the finger of God; but perhaps you would say they had a transcript, or a translation from them: then why did you say the original? We are told by historians that the New Testament Scriptures were not compiled till two hundred and fifty years after the birth of Christ. Again, the Gospel was preached to both Jews and Gentiles, several years before the apostles wrote their epistles in the Greek language: then how could they show the original, when the original was not in existence.

But perhaps you meant the Septuagint, and if you did, you told a falsehood at any rate, for the Septuagint was nothing but a translation from the Hebrew, the same as the Book of Mormon is a translation from the Egyptian inscribed on the plates before mentioned. When you prove your above assertion to be true, I will prove that the moon is made of green cheese.

“Strange that we have to believe these things from the testimony of twenty men from the wilderness.” [4]

Oh! What a wonderful thing this is! How many witnesses have you the testimony of, who testify to the resurrection of Christ? I answer, only eight.* But no doubt you will say above five

* We have the testimony of but eight of the Apostles. hundred brethren saw him at once. Who wrote that account? Answer. Paul. Then you have his testimony only for it. Did you ever see the apostles? You of course will say no: then how do you know there ever were such men? You don’t know it, except by immediate revelation.—You believe it from tradition, and the testimony of the Fathers, so called, &c. Oh! then what a hard thing it is that the Mormons believe from the testimony of twenty men from the wilderness, as you say, who testify to a certainty: when you cannot produce one living witness who can testify to an actual knowledge of the Bible. We know the Bible to be true, because God hath revealed it in these last days, and we have living witnesses who can testify to its truth. “By the mouths of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” (Jesus.)

“I tell you my brethren that the number, and the size of those plates, (as the Mormons have described them,) could not contain so much matter; for a plate of gold would have to be the eighth of an inch thick to admit of engravings: therefore it would take several bushels of them to contain writings enough to make a book the size of the Book of Mormon. I tell you my brethren it would take a pile of them that four men could not turn over with a hand-spike.”

One would think, sir, that you understood the art of gold beating and engraving, when you say it requires a plate the eighth of an inch thick to admit of engravings. This is too foolish to need any further comment. Every school boy knows that the Egyptian language is a much shorter one than the English; so much so, that one page of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, at the least calculation, will make, when translated, five English pages. You know better; but no doubt you thought your auditors were all so ignorant that they could not detect your falsehoods: but you were mistaken.

Now with respect to the several bushels of plates that four men could not turn over with a handspike;—Mr. P. where did you get that idea? Did you dream it in the night while you were asleep; or did you come to the conclusion that you would do evil that good may come, and tell as big a falsehood as you could? Well done for Mr. P., you have told one at last that four men could not turn over with a hand-spike. Surely you ought to have the premium.

“They say that miracles were not wrought to convince unbelievers of the truth of the Gospel of Christ. [5]

We know that Jesus, and the apostles worked miracles; but it is no where to be found, that they worked them, expressly to make men believe. It is not written that faith comes by miracles; but miracles by faith: and for this reason the Scripture reads, “And he could do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief.” Mark, vi. 5, 6.

The apostles could not cast out devils, because of unbelief; but you may say that it required faith on the part of the administrator; but not on the part of the one administered to.

To this I say, how often did Jesus say, “thy faith hath made thee whole.” You may refer to instances where men believed from the seeing of miracles; but that does not prove that miracles were expressly to make men believe. We are told in Scripture, that miracles were for the benefit of the Saints; not the unbeliever. (See Mark, xvi. 17. Cor. 12. Eph. 4.)

“Every prophet that God has ever sent confirmed his Revelations with miracles.”

Now Mr. P., will you please to inform me what miracles Noah, Abraham, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and many other prophets of the Bible did.

We are told by Jesus, that a greater prophet never was born of woman, than John the Baptist. We are also told that he did no miracles, (See John x. 41.): therefore your assertion is false. According to your rule we shall have to reject all the above mentioned prophets.

Now Mr. P., after uttering the above, you said that it was positive testimony to condemn the Mormons, because they do not work miracles to convince unbelievers of the truth of their religion. We have already shown how positive it is.

“When we demand of them, (miracles,) what God has given in every other instance, we are told that it is a wicked and adulterous generation that seeketh a sign.

When the Devil sought a sign of Christ, saying, make bread out of a stone, he rebuked him, saying, get thee behind me Satan. A set of wicked priests, namely the Pharisees, came tempting him afterwards, and sought a sign: Jesus saith unto them, “ye are of your father the Devil, and his works ye will do.”

Therefore, Mr. P., seeing that you have followed the example of your great prototype, (the Devil,) and your predecessors, (the Pharisees,) in asking a sign, I have no hesitation in believing that you are a child of the Devil. [6]

“They believe in the doctrine of the pre-existence of the spirits.—None of this doctrine in the Bible.”

This is a matter of little or no consequence, for it will not effect our soul’s salvation either the one way or the other. You quoted the 12th chapter of Zech. 1st. verse, “The Lord formeth the spirit of man within him,” to prove your position. It does not say that the spirit of man was formed at the time of his birth, or thousands of years before;—your application was wrong.

“It is not the flesh that constitutes the man; but the spirit:” therefore the writers of the Bible were mistaken in the ages of the Patriarchs, and instead of Methusalah’s being 969 years of age, he was several thousand.”

How such a conclusion as this will follow, I am at a loss to tell. Indeed sir, according to your logic, Luke wrote a falsehood when he said, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age.”

You perverted every passage you read on this subject: for instance, Gen. 2 and 7, you said the spirit that God breathed into Adam was the living soul; but the passage says, “God formed Man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Man (not the spirit,) became a living soul.”

The word soul, in the Bible, is ambiguous: in the above it has reference to the body of man, that was formed out of the dust: in other places it means the immortal part of man. Your arguments on this subject were sophistical; therefore they need no further examination. Let every one search for themselves.

“They assert that baptism is as essential for salvation, as faith.”

What fault can be found with that, when the Saviour hath said, “Except, a man be born of water, and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” I perceive, sir, that your kind of faith is that which James said the Devils had; a faith without works. Every person who knows any thing about the Bible, ought to know that baptism is a commandment of God,— a necessary work. (See Acts, ii. 38, do. x. 48. 1 Peter, iii. 21, Math. xxviii. 19.) You said that baptism was not essential.

This is too barefaced an absurdity to need any comment: for when did God ever give a nonessential commandment. The way you waved the subject of Baptism in your charity for the Baptists, was a caution.

“There was but two of the Children of Israel that went out of Egypt, that ever entered the Land of Canaan.

Here you are at war with the Bible. (See Numbers xiv. 29, do. chap. i.) [7]

“Baptism, is in the room of circumcision.”

Here you make another blunder; for Christ was both circumcised and baptised. Paul said, neither circumcision, or uncircumcision, availeth any thing. Again, we should have to exclude the female part of the community, from the right of being baptised: for none but the males were circumcised.

“No man can prove that Matthew, Mark, Peter, and John were baptised.

This is another blunder of yours. What did Christ mean when he addressed himself to the Apostles, and said, “you that have followed me in the work of Regeneration, shall sit on thrones;” &c. but perhaps you will say this was the Regeneration of the Spirit; but it is said that the Holy Ghost was not yet given: therefore it must have been a regeneration of water.

“The Apostles and Saints never spoke in tongues, except the people to whom they spoke understood the language they spoke, and I challenge any Mormon to prove that they did.”

This is another false assertion; and one that contradicts the Bible.

Now it is a fact, that the gift of tongues, or speaking in other languages, was given for two important purposes. First, the Apostles on the day of Pentecost spoke the different languages of the world, and there were present men that understood them. Second, the Apostle Paul, mentions the speaking in unknown tongues, (the tongues of Angels,) which he said they were to use for the edification of the Church. “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not unto men but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” “For greater is he that prophesieth, than he that speaketh with tongues except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.” “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue, pray that he may interpret.” “But if there be no interpreter let him keep silence in the church. (See Cor. 14th and 12th chaps.) Pray Mr. P., tell me what this gift of interpretation was, or is for? Now Mr. P., you ridiculed the idea of the Spiritual Gifts being in the Church in the present age of the world: which is precisely what Peter, and Paul, have said concerning false teachers, that were to come in the last days. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.” Peter. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and they shall turn away the ears of the people from the truth, and they shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4. [8]

“Next they assert, which is the most alarming of any thing, and which causes me to tremble at the thought, that the Church of Christ, has not been in existence, on earth, for the last several hundred years.”

You quoted Matt. xvi. 18, to prove a continued succession of the Church of Christ in its purity. You also stated that the rock, that Christ said he would build his Church upon, was the confession of Peter. Christ said no such thing. Peter had just received a Revelation from God, and Christ said upon this* rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it: but as soon as the people ceased to get revelation they ceased to be built upon the rock.

The gates of hell never prevailed against those that were built upon the rock before mentioned; although the Devil’s emissaries have killed their bodies, yet they will be saved in eternity. Again, as soon as the human family rejects the plan that Christ hath devised for salvation, and cease to build upon the rock, then the Church will cease to exist on earth: is the only logical conclusion that we can come to.

You next referred to Daniel, ii. 44, to prove your position; and you said that it was fulfilled at the first coming of Christ. Now I say boldly, that it was not fulfilled then, for the kings, or kingdoms that Daniel describes, and which were represented by the ten toes of the Image, that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, was not in existence at the first coming of Christ: neither did they exist till several hundred years after it. Every man that knows any thing of the predictions of the Prophets concerning the kingdom of God spoken of by Daniel, knows that it will not be fully established on earth till the second coming of Christ. Daniel said this “kingdom shall not be left to other people.” “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds from heaven;” “But the Saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.” (See Dan. vii. chapter.) John speaking of this kingdom said, “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” In connection with this, John describes the awful consummation of the wicked, and the binding of Satan, and the establishment of peace on earth, the commencement of millennium, &c., all as being in the last days.

Now it is evident from Daniel that God, in the last days, [9] is to commit a dispensation of the Gospel to the children of men, (which was represented by the stone cut out of the mountain,) that is to gather in the honest in heart, that they may be prepared for the coming of Christ; at which time the kingdom will be fully and completely established. John is plain on this subject; “And I saw another Angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.” Paul says: “Who shall judge the quick, and the dead, at his appearing, and his kingdom.” I might multiply quotations on this subject; but I forbear.

(Read the Saviour’s words on this subject.)

* The word This, is a demonstrative adjective pronoun, which precisely points out the subject to which it relates.

Does it relate to Peter, to Christ, or to a communication that flesh and blood cannot communicate? Answer; to that which flesh and blood cannot communicate.

You also referred to Isa. ix. 7, which is a rod for your own back, “Of the increase of his government, and peace there shall be no end.” Now I ask, what is, or what was his governments?

Answer; “God hath set in the Church; first, Apostles; secondly, Prophets; thirdly, Teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of healings, helps and governments.” Now this organized order of government, which consisted of Apostles and Prophets, &c., does not exist on earth except the Latter-Day Saints have it: and the fact that the Presbyterians have not got it, proves to a demonstration that you have no part or lot in the matter: consequently you must be numbered with those that have the mark of the Beast. Your argument then falls to the ground, and your false assertions are disclosed by the light of truth.

Isaiah, xxiv. 5, says, “they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” It is evident from the reading of the whole chapter, that the above relates to the last days. John says; “it was given unto him ( the Beast,) to make war with the Saints, and overcome them:” Daniel says the same in amount.

The fact that the church was anciently organized with Apostles and Prophets, &c. (See Cor. xii. chap. Eph. iv. chap.) and then the fact that this order has not been in existence, for several hundred years, proves to a certainty that the Church of Christ, in its organized form, has not been on earth for the last several hundred years. As respects your Bonaparte comparison, it is too silly for me to bother with.

“Last of all, they say there is no salvation out of the Mormon Church.”

Now Mr. P., when did God ever send his servants into the world to testify of his truth, and then save those who rejected their testimony. Oh! common sense whither art thou gone? Oh! propriety whither art thou fled? O Tempora!! O Mores!! Here we need battalions of interjections, to express our wonder and astonishment at your ignorance. If God hath sent the Presbyterians, he [10] will damn every person who rejects their testimony, after hearing them: for he never has but one Church on earth at a time; that is his own. Now, Mr. P., if you conscientiously believe the Mormons are wrong, and that they do not testify the truth; why are you so uneasy; as though you were among nettles? or why do you act like the Ephesian of old? who said, “not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised.” Surely, if we are wrong you need not fear. Your conduct shows to the world that there is dubity on your own mind with regard to the truth of your own religion. If you are on the rock you need not fear.

“It is hard, that the followers of the Mormons, are compelled to disbelieve the Bible.”

The Mormons are not compelled to do any such thing; but to the contrary, we disfellowship every person that denies the Bible. We are firm believers in the Bible, and for this reason we cannot give you the right hand of fellowship.

“My brethren, John says many false spirits are gone out into the world.”

True; but Paul said there was but one Spirit of God, and that the effects of it were Revelations, Prophecyings, Tongues, Healings, &c. All spirits that do not produce these effects are not of God; therefore seeing that you have denied the workings of miracles, and the other gifts of the Spirit, before mentioned, and say they are not necessary now-a-days, you have not the Spirit of God; but a false spirit, and this we know from the many falsehoods you have told.

“We do not need miracles in this age of the world.”

How do you know that? Prove it, and I will believe it. Isaiah tells us of great miracles that are yet to be performed. You, and the prophets for it. (See Isa. xi. chapter.)

“When God adds any more Revelations to the Bible, he will confirm them by miracles.”

Mr. P., how do you know that God will do that? has he ever told you he would do so? I say no; for you deny immediate Revelation: therefore your assertion is a presumptuous one.

“I had rather do them (Mormons) good than evil.”

Your falsehoods show what a desire you have to do them good.

“They are opposed to the word of God.”

There is another falsehood. [11]

“If I had been in the western country, I would have done all I could to have stopped the people from persecuting them.”

Now Mr. P., if you did but know, it was the falsehoods, that have been put in circulation by priests like yourself, that have caused the blood of Saints and Prophets to flow in this nineteenth century: and perhaps your falsehoods, will serve to enliven the spirit of mobocracy, and help to encourage the rabble and cause the blood of more Saints to be shed, and cry to God for vengeance against you, and all others engaged in telling falsehoods.

[PRAYER.]

“This people, O Lord, teach doctrines contrary to the Holy Scriptures.”

Well done! Mr. P., to crown the climax of all your falsehoods, you told the Lord one. It is bad enough to lie to man; let alone lying to God. I challenge you, or any other man, to meet a Latter-Day Saint, face to face, and prove one item of the doctrine we believe to be false, or in opposition to the Bible.

To conclude, I say that Mr. Perkins is guilty of falsehoods, of the most glaring kind, and except he repent, and acknowledge his wickedness, that he may undeceive those, (if there were any,) who were deceived by his lecture, God will curse him, and the cloud of iniquity, and falsehoods, will rest upon his own head: so that he will shudder at the thought of standing in the presence of God, on the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest; and those whom he has deceived will annoy him in eternity: therefore woe be unto him if he repent not.

John says, “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.”

Mr. P., in order to get from under these things, may say that I have misrepresented his assertions; (I have plenty of witnesses to corroborate me,) and no wonder if he should; for when a man’s refuge of lies is disclosed, it makes him feel very uneasy, and he will get from under the yoke if he can. Some may think strange of my sharpness, and say that I have not charity; but I can testify that I have the same kind of charity that Jesus had for the Pharisees. (See Matthew, xxiii. chapter.)

I am determined hereafter, that no man shall get up before a congregation in my presence, and lie so unaccountably about the truth of God; but that he shall hear of it again. And if he does not want to be exposed, let him keep truth on his side; for God hath sent me to proclaim the truth, and disclose the refuge of lies. Therefore, I pray God, that the sword of truth may be unsheathed, until it sweeps the refuge of lies from the earth.

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