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To the aged, now in the autumn of life, this cautious, to an extent that rendered many of them should be their harvest of earnest, constant time-serving. prayer-of ripe fruits--and of an ample ingather- In those times of trouble, evil as well as good ing of God's sanctifying Spirit. Aged one, if the is developed. If the principle of stedfastness be morning service of your life was devoted to the drawn out into action in those who know the truth, world, if your noon-day was a season of rejoic and love it, the opposite principle becomes apparent ing in the sunshine of the world's pleasures, in others, who fear man more than God, and love a be persuaded now, in your old age, to strive to portion upon earth better than the inheritance of reap the harvest of Christ's atoning merit, and the saints in light. There were Judas and Demas in to obtain a title to that bright inheritance on Paul's time—as there had been a Jehu in the days the other side of the Jordan of death. Your of old—and we are now to recount some startling privileges will soon be shortened by disease and incidents in the life of a noted apostate of the era infirmity, your tide of life is ebbing fast, your of the Reformation. last evening is nearly run, your sky is becom- Francis Spira, to whom we now refer, lived about ing overcast with clouds, which betoken the the middle of the sixteenth century (1548). He was near approach of that hurricane which will soon a doctor of law, and an advocate of high rank in the shatter and overpower your feeble bark. Yes; town of Cittadella, in the province of Italy, then subthe harvest of life and privilege will soon be ject to Venice. He was distinguished by his learnpast, the hardest home will soon be gathered in, ing and his eloquence, possessed of a subtle mind, but, alas ! for those, when the last echoes of its re- and was highly intelligent. His attainments and posijoicings shall pronounce their unalterable sen- tion secured for him the esteem of many, while his tence" Not sared.

wealth gave him an influence which rendered him May we be found living in Christ and to one of the most notable men of his community. Christ, and when death comes may we hail it About his forty-fourth year, Spira's attention began as the messenger of peace, and hear the Judge to be turned to the works of Luther and other Repronounce that we are saved! Is Christ thy life, formers. Eager in the pursuit of knowledge, he then, O my soul? Has he the love of thine forthwith began to inquire. The Scriptures were heart? Then fear not death, for he says, “ I am searched, books of controversy studied, and the result the resurrection and the life,” and “ whosoever was, a conviction that Lutheranism was true, and liveth and believeth in me shall never die."

Popery false. Spira embraced the resuscitated doc

trines with so much zeal, that he soon became in his FRANCIS SPIRA.

turn a preacher of them--at least among his family BY THE REV. W. K. TWEEDIE, EDINBURGH. (which was numerous) and his friends he sought to It is often remarked, that all the great principle by disseminate what he had himself embraced. To some which God would guide the world have been evolved extent he abandoned other pursuits, and urged his amid controversy and commotion. Without going be friends to depend solely on the grace of God in yond the Christian era, we see this signally exemplified Christ for salvation. He was well versed in the in the various periodic agitations which have disturbed Scriptures, took a firm hold of their doctrines, and the peace, but at the same time promoted the pro- did all that he could to spread the light at once by gress, of the Church, and the truth of which it is the his life and his lessons. custodier. When the Christian system, the truth as For about six years Spira continued thus to beit is in Jesus, was first fully developed among men, friend the Reformed cause. He exerted his influhow resolute the hostility which it had to encounter ! ence privately at first, but eventually waxed more Good in the highest sense was the object aimed at, decided and bold, and the country around Padua beand antagonism seemed the condition of achieving it. came agitated by the truths which he proclaimed. At the Reformation, again, when great truths were The pardons and indulgences of priestcraft lost their once more disembarrassed, that they might emanci- value, the old superstition was assailed and underpate the souls of men, the same scenes occurred. mined, and threatened to fall. The cry of the craft Truth was not allowed to make progress in silence; in danger was accordingly raised, and Spira became but emperors and popes, principalities and powers, the object of hatred and persecution. Calumnies of banded against it, when the concussion between truth the grossest kinds were circulated against him, and and error was such as to remind us of the reverbera- it soon became apparent that if he would be a Retion occasioned by the lightning when it enters the former to bless mankind, he must take his life in his cloud. In still more modern times, the same result has hand, and hazard it for the name of Jesus. been seen. For example, when the grand truth that The pope's legate at Venice at that period was the Church of Christ should be Evangelistic, as well the noted Della Casa, and he entered with zeal into as Evangelical, began to be brought forth from its the persecution that had begun against Spira. That long neglect, many still remember the hostility which functionary was distinguished for hatred to the it encountered. Assemblies debated against Missions, truth and hostility to its friends, and easily credited, and voted them down. The worldly-wise derided—the the information of the new teacher`s enemies. The formalist raised the cry of fanaticism-and even dominant superstition then, as now, was conscious of some of the friends of truth, instead of throwing the ten thousand points at which its boasted : themselves boldly upon principle, or upon Him who bility is vulnerable, and resented the first a: is the believer's rock of defence, were timid and of a wish to unmask its delusions.

The enmity against Spira was increased, when it trine of the Church of Rome to be holy and true.” was ascertained that the people on the frontiers of All this was submitted to by the misguided man. He Italy favoured the religion which Luther had freed had put his hand to the plough, but he looked back. from the incumbent mass of Popery. Della Casa, He had once taken up the cross by profession, but he therefore, applied to the Senate of Venice to take laid it down again. In sunshine he would follow the decisive measures against Spira; while he, on the Lord, but not in tribulation. The world had overother hand, was aware that no tenet would be tole mastering power, God and eternity were out of sight rated which tended to the overthrow, or even the and out of mind, and we shall soon see the result. improvement, of Popery, and that Papists would Having once entered on the downward path. lightly forego neither their old superstitions, nor farther declension speedily followed. On his return their old modes of defending them—persecution, the to his home, Spira complied with all the injunctions inquisition, and death. He saw, in short, that if he of Della Casa, though conscience had already begun persevered in the course on which he had entered, to exclaim against his apostasy. Reflection began to he must prepare for one of two things-exile or bring haunting terrors with it; the folly of seeking death. The only via media was apostasy.

peace in departing from God soon became apparent. Amid his trepidation at the gathering storm, The guilt of bartering eternal for temporal existence. Spira was admonished to take the shield of faith; of preferring the favour of man to the smile of God. and those who have written the story of his life, tell and earthly treasures to unsearchable riches, was us of the struggles and temptations of his mind at this speedily discovered. The Saviour's suffering for the crisis of his religious state. The apostles and sinners, and Spira's recoil from suffering for him, martyrs were set before him as models. Death with pressed upon his conscience; and his biographers tell the truth, or life without it, were the topics of his us that the terrors of the Lord thenceforth took hold

frequent thoughts; and it was strongly impressed of him.* The advice of time-serving friends, who upon his mind that, at the very least, he ought set before him all the trials that would flow from rather to abandon his country than the truth. stedfastness, but not one of the miseries that would

Hitherto, then, we have seen little in Spira to re: result from apostasy, induced him to make his prehend. With characteristic zeal and openness he public recantation. He was present at the celebra has been telling the truth as far as he knew it. tion of mass, and repeated clause by clause the abjuHaving embraced Christ's doctrines, he sought to ration which he had formerly subscribed. About guide others to do likewise; and had his history two thousand persons were present at the ceremony closed here, it would have been as the history of a in which Spira acted so prominent a part, although true convert, not of Francis Spira the apostate. But he confessed that a feeling akin to desperation had he was not yet a Christian, though he was a Lutheran, already taken hold of him. He was fined in thirty and must either become a Christian, or be unmasked, pieces of gold, the greater part of which was eras deceiving and deceived.

pended upon masses, and the unhappy man was reAmid his forebodings, Spira soon became restless stored by an apostate Church to all that apostasy was and troubled. Now one purpose, and anon another, sure to receive from it. Spira is said to have fainted swayed him. To-day he was resolved to suffer the away after the agitating scenes through which he loss of all things rather than deny the truth; to- passed on that eventful day; and from that moment morrow he would listen to the seductive and too suc- he never more knew peace of mind. He sank into cessful sophism which has kept its tens of thousands the pit which himself had dug, and, like an oak in spiritual bondage for ever—“ How can you so far skaithed, or a tall tower shivered by lightning, be presume on your own sufficiency as to disregard the became a signal monument of the retribution of examples of your ancestors, and the judgment of the Heaven. whole Church ?" Under the influence of that, or The mind of the unhappy man soon became rather in the state of mind that would listen to that, violently distracted by remorse. We know little of Spira became more and more irresolute. He could the feelings of Judas, except as we infer them from not calmly contemplate " the offensive dungeon, the a few incidents recordert concerning him subsequent bloody axe, and burning faggot.” The thought of to his treachery; but those of Spira have been de

country and of friends, of wife and children (of whom scribed with accuracy and care. Physicians for the he had eleven), rendered his agitation deeper and body, and ministers of religion for the soul, were

deeper. Like Eve, when she consented to listen to called to the conscience-stricken man. He was rethe tempter at all, Spira, when he consulted with moved from Cittadella to Padua, that he might in all flesh and blood, was tottering to his fall; and he at respects benefit by the means reckoned most likely last hastened to the legate at Venice, there to con- to restore his peace of mind; but after mature delifess his heresy, and implore forgiveness. He sought beration, the physicians declared that they could disto return to “ entire obedience to the sovereign corer no bodily ailment. It was the disease of the bishop, in the communion of the Church of Rome, soul that was preying on the wasting frame, so that without ever desiring to depart from the traditions the most skilful men in a city which was at that and decrees of the Holy See.” He rehearsed all his period “the eye of Italy,” saw the resources of their errors, and drew them up in a formal deed, which he so- art exhausted in vain ip attempting a cure. Spira lemnly subscribed. He was then dismissed to his home, himself declared that his disease was beyond the and ordered to emit a recantation there, to abjure the

* Sec The Evil and Danger of Apostasy, as Exemplified in Lutheran heresy, and" acknowledge the whole doc- the History of Francis Spira, &c., by John Poynder, Esq.

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reach of human appliances; his exclamation was, to become acute and inventive of arguments with " Who can succour a soul oppressed by a sense of which to torment himself, by repelling the suggessin, and by the wrath of God? It is Jesus Christ tions of his friends. He clung to the conviction that alone who must be the physician, and the Gospel is he was a reprobate, and declared "there was no the only antidote.”

room in his heart for aught but torment and agitaIt may easily be supposed that Spira soon became tion.” Roaring in bitterness of spirit, he exclaimed: an object of public notoriety. Crowds accordingly “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the resorted to witness what is described as a harrowing living God.”

“I have a whole legion of spectacle--the sight of one sunk in the darkness of devils who take up their abode in me, and possess despair. Some from curiosity, others in the hope of me as their own, and that justly, for I have denied ministering to the mind diseased, sought the com- Christ.” In one of his paroxysms he exclaimed: “I pany of the wretched man; but their kindness and desire nothing more than to come to that place where counsel were unavailing Water to quench his I may be certain of enduring the worst, and of being burning thirst was Spira's constant cry. He obsti- delivered from the fear of a worse to come.” Rarely nately refused the use of food, that he might pass has the appalling termination of such a career been the sooner, as he avowed, from the anticipation to so stedfastly contemplated. There was a kind of the reality of agony; and thus did Spira, at the age method in his agony, for he never ceased to affirm, of little more than fifty, amid much that might have that " when he renounced his opinions, he believed made life happy, sink into hopeless wretchedness them to be true, and yet he abjured them before the before the time, because in an evil hour he had legate.” His mind, through this torturing process, called the truth a lie, and wilfully trampled upon gradually settled down in the conviction that he had conscience in the act of doing so.

sinned against the Holy Spirit, and intrenched beCould we trace, in detail, the various stages by hind that conviction, no created power could move which Spira's spiritual malady developed itself, the him. He spoke of his mind as corro led by the renarrative might yield warning to the most unreflect. probation of God, who had hardened him; and “I ing; but we can only advert to the more salient find," he adds, " that from day to day he hardens me points in his gloomy history. We shall do so as much more and more.” When he reasoned regarding his as possible in the language which the agonized man punishment, he always justified the ways of God, himself employed as he passed on to the grave. * declaring that “there was no punishment which he

When his troubles began, then, Spira anxiously did not deserve for so detestable a crime;" and add. wished that “some one would shorten his days;” and ing, “ I assure you, it is no little thing to deny Christ, in describing the misery which dictated the suicidal and yet it is more common than is imagined.” At desire, he detailed the crime he had committed, and another time he exclaimed, “O, could I only experiits accompaniments, in language so impassioned and ence the least sentiment of the love of God towards affecting, that he made the bystanders weep; nay, me, although it were but for a moment, as I now some of them trembled at the recital. When they feel the weight of his wrath burning like the torattempted to console him, his constant exclamation ments of hell within me, and afflicting my conscience was: “My sin is greater than the mercy of God." | with inexpressible anguish! Assuredly despair is “I have denied Christ voluntarily, and against my hell itself!" convictions. I feel that he hardens me, and will Painful as are these passages in Spira's life, they allow me no hope.” Referring to the doctrines are but like the opening scene in this tragic drama. which he had abjured, he declared that “ he believed “Here is the truth of my case," he exclaimed when them while in the act of denying them;" adding, that his anguish grew more and more overpowering: "I now “he believed nothing-he had neither faith, nor tell you, that when I first abjured my profession at confidence, nor hope.” “ I am a reprobate like Cain Venice, and when the declaration was recorded, the or Judas, who, rejecting all hope, fell from grace Spirit of God admonished me often, and yet while at into despair. My friends do me great wrong in not Cittadella, I in some sort set my seal to it.” “I resuffering me to depart to the abode of the unbeliev- sisted the Holy Spirit, and signed, and sealed it; and ing, as I have justly deserved.”

at that very moment I sensibly felt a wound inflicted His friends were anxious to read the Scriptures even on my will.” And subsequently to this, clasping with the agonized man, in the hope of alleviating his his hands violently together, and raising himself up,

misery; but terrified by the attempt, he roared out in he exclaimed: “Now I am strong, but I sink into deį anguish, beseeching them to desist. The physicians, cay by little and little, and consume away.”.... “I

we have seen, declared that there was no bodily dis- see my condemnation, and know that my only retemper; yet, from hour to hour, his misery grew more medy is in Christ; nevertheless, I cannot persuade and more intense, and the pitiable spectacle became myself to embrace it. Such is the punishment of intolerable to the onlookers. Paul Vergerio, bishop the damned.” of Justinopoli, and others, tried from time to time

Did our space allow, it would be instructive to to soothe him; but all was rejected. His mind seemed trace the conduct of Spira while his friends per

* Spira's case has been described by Matthew Gribaldo, suaded him to repeat the words of the Lord's Prayer a learned civilian of Padua, who was eye-witness of his after them. “Our Father which art in heaven," the wretchedness. Henry Scrimger, a celebrated Scotsman, and a professor at Geneva, was also a witness of Spira's disconsolate sinner began to say, but he suddenly closing scenes, and published a description of them. Other paused, and burst into tears, explaining his grief by accounts have been given in various languages.

the words, “ I perceive that I am abandoned by God.” As he repeated the other clauses, or rather para- sometimes flowed copiously; his constant longing phrased the passage, he shed abundant tears, inso- was for death; and yet, said he, the Scriptures are much that all about him were melted into compas- fuifilled in me—“They shall desire to die, and death sion. “My crime is not one iota less than that of sball flee from them.” “ O miserable wretch! 0 Judas," was subsequently his averment; and that miserable wretch !" was the sentence which he proconviction, accompanied with the feeling that it was nounced upon himself. He implored his friends and impossible for him to believe, began at last to over- brethren to take warning by his misery; while the master his ingenious mind. His biographers tell words, “ Whosoever shall love father or mother, or us, that the wretched man “ felt a continual hell houses or lands, more than me, is not worthy of me," tormenting his mind;" while he refused to be moved were to his soul like nitre on a fresh wound. away from the harassing conviction, that “his pre- Men who are not acquainted with the strong strugsent state was worse than if his soul, separated from the gles of the soul when it discovers what sin is on the body, were with Judas and the rest of the damned.” one hand, and God on the other, without also discoCain, Saul, and Judas he regarded as his precursors vering what Christ is, as the mediator between God, in crime and condemnation; while, with perverse and man, may call this raving. But the friends of ingenuity, he turned away whatever tended to con- Spira were convinced by his arguments and appeals, sole him. With considerable theological accuracy, which continued acute and forcible to the last, that he drew the distinction between his former condition, neither frenzy, as ignorance concluded, nor sorcery, when God, he thought, was known, and his present, as superstition supposed, had any share in his malady: when God had been ahjured-evincing all too plainly and some of the statements of Gospel truth which he that his intellect and reason were untouched, while made on his death-bed show that their opinion was his conscience was stimulated to an extent which correct. He himself reprobated the charge of mad-, transferred Spira, in effect, to the vicinity of Sinai and ness, telling them that they might thus escape from Horeb. “I know not what else to say, than that I the lesson which God was teaching them, or speak am one of those whom God has threatened to tear in perversely of the ways of God in giving such an ex

pieces," was the language in which he described both ample of his truth; but with all that, he said, they himself and his condition.

were only evincing the ignorance of the natural mind, At other periods, Spira gave clear evidence that which knows not the things of the Spirit, nay, regards though he could not apply the Gospel to himself, he them as foolishness. yet could preach it to others. He urged his friends While warning his friends, one of them took occato " exalt the glory of God continually; and not to sion from his words to say that that was not the lanbe afraid of legates, inquisitors, prisons, nor any kind guage of a reprobate. Spira immediately replied, of death." These moments, however, were few and " I only imitate the rich Epicure, who, though biminfrequent; and incidents sometimes occurred to self in hell, was anxious that his brethren should! rouse him to intense vehemence of feeling. Antonio escape from torment.” While justifying the dealFontanina, a priest who had been with him when | ings of God toward him, that also was pointed out as he recanted before the legate, came to visit him, and a token for good; but the reply was ready: “ Judas, reminded the wretched man of their last interview : after betraying his Master, was obliged to own his “ O the accursed day!” he exclaimed; “O the ac- sin, and justify the innocence of Christ; and if I do cursed day! Would that I had never been at Venice! | the same, it is neither new nor singular.” Towards

Would to God I had been then dead !” At a subse- the close of his life, lie addressed some young men in quent time, a priest attempted to exorcise Spira as most solemn and instructive terms, warning them one that was possessed of a devil, when he confessed from his case to beware of a religion of form, or of that he was " under the power of demons; but they making faith their saviour. He spoke of the merits could not be cast out by any charms." The priest, of Christ as “ a strong rampart against the wrath of however, proceeded with his incantations, loudly ad God;" but added that he had “ demolished that buljuring the spirit to come to Spira's tongue and to wark with his own hands," and was now overwhelmed. answer. The unhappy man, deriding such efforts, by the deluge. He urged those around him to beware turned away with a sigh.* Such are the prescriptions of being “ almost Christians," as he had been, and of Rome to heal a wounded conscience.

then broke out into vehement emotion indicative of his But the efforts of that superstition were not yet strong internal agony. “ Give me a sword,” he esexhausted. Exorcism had failed; yet may not the claimed. “Why? what use will you make of it?" " I sacrament, the mass, avail? But Spira refused. Ver- cannot tell," he rejoined, “ to what act my feelings gerio endeavoured in vain to persuade him. He held may carry me, nor what I may do." He subsequently it to be a scriptural truth, that whosoever would declared to Vergerio, when his friends begun to take deny Christ, Christ would deny before his Father leave of him, " that he felt his heart full of cursing, who is in heaven. Spira felt that he had denied him, hatred, and blasphemy against God," instead of beand clung to the letter of Scripture, in spite of all ing softened by the prospect of being left alone; and attempts. He quoted the texts, Heb. vi. 4, 5, x. on the following day, he attempted self-destruction, 26; and 2 Pet. ii. 21; and reinforced by these, neither without success. For eight weeks did he continue in the exorcisms of superstition, nor the entreaties of this lamentable state, refusing nourishment, except affection, could bring one ray of comfort to his as it was forced on him, and gradually becoming troubled soul. Amid his agony of spirit, his tears emaciated and haggard. He was constantly in dread, • See Evil and Danger of Apostasy, &c.

not of death, but of life; became by degrees his own


523 executioner; pined away amid grief and horror; and died soon after returning to his own house from Padua

THE DELAYING MOTHER. -a melancholy monument of the effects of unsted- | A kind mother may sometimes have just occasion fastness in the faith, and the fatal results of that fear for deep regret at delays which most intimately comof men which bringeth a snare.

cern the welfare of her children in this world and in 1 It is not our province to pronounce any opinion on the world to come. the state of Spira beyond the grave—his destinies A child was observed to be very languid and feverars with the Lord, and we neither speculate nor dog-ish. The parents agreed that he ought to have a matize. Let us, however, just indicate the lessons to dose of medicine; but the child was averse to take it; which his mournful history points us :

a neighbour called in, and the mother was diverted See the effects of apostasy in the chafing misery at the moment that she ought to have given it him. of Spira's soul.

She consoled herself with thinking that she would See the power of God's law, when the Gospel is give it him the first thing in the morning, and that turned from or misunderstood.

would make very little difference. It was given See what mankind would, sooner or later, have to him, but it did no good; another morning came, been, had there been no Days-man, no Mediator be and the child was much worse. Then it was agreed tween God and man.

to send for the doctor, and the servant was told. į See the tremendous power of a roused conscience, to go directly, as the doctor was in the habit of when only irritated by a sense of wrath, not cleansed | leaving home at ten o'clock, and not returning for by the blood of sprinkling.

several hours. She received the order; but, thinking See the peril of the almost Christian-the man that a few minutes could not make much difference, who is a follower of Christ only with the under- she delayed till the time was past: it was only a few standing, not with a renewed heart.

minutes; but the doctor was as remarkable for puncSee an appalling instance of the effects of wilful tuality as the family to which he was summoned was sin.

for procrastination; he had left home, and was gone See the need of grace to sustain at all times, but several miles to visit his patients. Some hours specially when persecution arises because of the elapsed before his return; he then hastened to the truth.

bed-side of the sick child, but his efforts were too See the danger of philosophizing, as Spira vainly late: a fatal disease had laid hold on the frame, did, in the school of Christ—the origin, Calvin sup- which, in all probability, might have been checked posed, of his wretched fall.

by timely application. See the worthlessness of human means to relieve the conscience without the blessing of the Holy Spirit.

Calling at the house of one of his friends, the | See the tearful consequences of abandoning the minister found them in the deepest distress, having truth to embrace Popery. Spira has been called a suddenly lost their only child. He attempted to Popish martyr. His apostasy led to Vergerio's con

console the distracted parents; but the mother reversion.

plied, " Ah, sir, these consolations might assuage my We conclude in the words of Calvin, regarding this grief for the loss of my child, but they cannot blunt apostate's case. “ May the Lord Jesus confirm our the stings of my conscience, which are as daggers in hearts in the full and sincere belief of his own Gos- my heart. It was but last week I was thinking, pel, and keep our tongues in the uniform confession My child is now twelve years of age; his mind is of him, that as we now join in one song with angels, rapidly expanding; I know he thinks and feels bewe may at length enjoy, together with them, the yond the measure of his years, and a foolish backblessed delights of the heavenly kingdom!" Such a wardness has hitherto kept me from entering so prayer is not unneeded in a day when apostasy to closely into conversation with him as to discover the Rome is rife. Again we say, “Let him that thinketh real state of his mind, and to make a vigorous effort he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

to lead his heart to God.' I then resolved to seize

the first opportunity to discharge a duty so weighty THE PARADOX.

on the conscience of a Christian parent; but day

after day my foolish, deceitful heart said, “I will do How strange is the course that the Christian must it to-morrow.' On the very day that he was taken steer!

ill, I had resolved to talk to him that evening; and How perplexed is the path he must tread!

when he at first complained of his head, I was halfThe hope of his happiness rises from feur,

pleased with the thought that this might incline him And his life he receives from the DEAD.

to listen more seriously to what I should say. But His fairest pretensions must wholly be waived,

oh, sir, his pain and fever increased so rapidly that I And his best resolutions be crossed;

was obliged to put him immediately to bed; and, as Nor can he expect to be perfectly saved

he seemed inclined to doze, I was glad to leave him Till he finds himself utterly lost.

to rest. From that time he was never sufficiently

sensible for conversation; and now he is gone into When all this-is done, and his conscience secured eternity, and has left me distracted with anxiety Of the total remission of sins;

concerning the salvation of his precious soul! DilaWhen his pardon is signed, and his peace is procured, tory wretch! had it not been for my own sin I might From that moment the conflict begins.

now have been consoling myself with the satisfactory

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