Project Canterbury








St James' Church, Syracuse,

NOVEMBER 15, 1853.










In the Day of thy Power shall the People offer Thee freewill offerings with an holy worship--the dew of Thy Birth is of the womb of the morning. [Prayer Book Translation.]

In virtue of the solemn service of Consecration just now concluded, the place in which we are assembled is become a place Holy unto the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and it is meet that, before all other words, we render our humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, that he hath put it into the hearts of His people to erect another House, which shall be forever separate from all unhallowed, worldly and common uses, and dedicated to the worship and service of the ever-blessed and glorious Trinity the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier of our souls. Lord, we are not worthy that Thou shouldest come under our roof! But since Thou halt condescended to visit the earth and to dwell with man since Thou least graciously given us assurance that Thou wilt accept works such as this at our hands, do Thou glorify this House of thy glory by filling it with thy perpetual presence, and making it a chosen place for dispensing abundantly to sinful, dying men, the riches of thy grace!

And along with our thanksgivings and praises to Almighty God, that He hath permitted another Temple to be raised up and dedicated to His honour and glory, it is meet that we tender our warm congratulations to those generous friends And pious fellow-laborers, who have been willing instruments [5/6] in the hands of the great Head of the Church in cheering and urging on this blessed work to a happy consummation. We "rejoice to-day with those who do rejoice!" "I was glad, when they said unto me, we will go into the House of the Lord," "For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord." "O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that 'love thee: peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sake I will wish thee prosperity; yea, because of the House of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good." To all, who have taken a kindly interest in this work and labor of love-to those, in every place, who have offered their free-will offerings for the promotion of a Holy worship,--to the devoted few, who have stood around these walls, and around their heroic pastor, counting nothing dear unto themselves, so that they might uphold his hands and cheer his heart, and finish this House, which it was in his heart to build unto the name of the Lord,--to that meek but intrepid. Pastor himself, who has cemented these stones with his prayers and with his tears--to the excellent Rector and liberal-minded people of the neighboring congregation--to the friendly inhabitants, of whatever name, of this opulent and thriving city, whose power and prosperity seem like the marvels of some eastern fable--to your own eloquent and honoured Bishop, whom I would have much preferred to see standing in my place to-day--and to the beloved brethren of his Clergy, assembled together this morning to welcome the establishment of a Free Church in their Diocese--to each, and to all, we tender our devout and grateful felicitations that so worthy an enterprise has been crowned with such happy success, and that another Holy Place has been erected in this world of sin and sorrow, and consecrated forever to purposes of piety and devotion,--a Holy Place, [6/7] to be held henceforth and forever sacred to the worship of the God Of. our life and of our salvation--to receiving and dispensing His Heavenly gifts--to instructing the ignorant and consoling the afflicted--to undoing all the lamentable consequences of the Fall. Blessed work! If the angels rejoice over one sinner that repenteth, will they not rejoice over the completion of another House, in which, as long as the walls shall stand, holy Wien are to testify repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, striving to convert the sinner from the error of his way, and so to save a soul from,, death! If a multitude of the Heavenly Host drew near to the earth on the night of the Nativity, holding a jubilee, and singing that seraphic hymn, which so well expressed the nature and objects of the mystery of the Holy Incarnation: "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men," may we not hope that they are hovering over us and near us to-day, exulting in the opening of this Holy Place, in which are to be dispensed the unsearchable riches of Christ, so that by-and-bye, when we come to that divine Hymn in the Eucharistic service, we may speak with a peculiar sense of their union and sympathy with us: "therefore, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of Heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious name, evermore praising Thee, and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Load God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full, of thy glory: glory be to Thee, O Lord, most High!"

Consider for one moment, my brethren, what it is that we do, when we erect a Temple to the Lord, an Habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob. It is pushing aside from one little spot of this sin-stained earth the consequences of the Fall--toil, and traffick, and sin and pleasure--rescuing from all sordid and temporal and common uses,--and restoring to it the spirit of heaven by consecrating it to heavenly uses,--the worship and service of Almighty God. It [7/8] is making of that little spot a sacred enclosure--a place fenced in from the tumults and conflicts of the world--to be kept holy, and open only toward Heaven--except as sinful men may enter into it for communion with Heaven, but open above all other places toward Heaven for angels and ministers of grace to ascend and descend upon the children of men. Within this sacred enclosure the weary soul finds all of Heaven--all of light and joy and peace and comfort, which can be found on the earth. Here are all those holy things, which Almighty grace hath vouchsafed for the recovery of fallen man, or which have been permitted to find a place in this ruined world,--things of which some faint reflections and emanations indeed may be discerned and enjoyed in the busy common places of the earth, but which only here can be found in all their divine fulness, shining with open and united splendour, speaking with harmonious voices, encircling the child of care and sorrow with all the soothing, elevating and transforming influences and powers of the unseen world. Here is the Communion of Saints--here is a united, fervent worshipping of the Lord in the beauty of holiness--here is the. authoritative reading and exposition of the word of God--here is the one Baptism for the remission of sins--here is the Apostolic laying on of hands for the increase of spiritual gifts--here are those Holy mysteries, the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of Christ, to cleanse and nourish and preserve both body and soul unto everlasting life. Here the nuptial union is hallowed by the benediction of the Church--and here the mortal remains, even when the spirit has lied, come for the last time, as if to receive assurance from the Spouse of Christ, that, "He who is the Resurrection and. the Life," will "change the vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His own glorious body,"--that this corruptible shall put on incorruption--this mortal shall put [8/9] on immortality, and that "Death shall be swallowed up in victory! Thus, from the first moment that the feeble infant is taken into the arms of the Church, and signed with the sign of the Cross, until the sacred dust rests for the last time before the altar, to have pronounced over it the words of eternal life, to receive the last tokens of reverence and love, and to end its earthly history in the Holy Place, in every stage of its being, the critical steps by which it advances in the divine life are taken here. Here, as on holy ground, he has met and talked with God, received from Him the successive gifts of His grace, and endeavored to praise Him with the best member that he had. Here he has found a type and a foretaste of Heaven; here his spirit has been raised and attuned to the divine harmonies to the eternal hallelujahs and adorations of the upper Sanctuary; here, whatever might be his lot in the world, however lonely, or however beset by trouble and sorrow, here he has found a Home and a Refuge, in which he could breathe freely, and be at rest, and feel himself surrounded by brethren and friends, and be kindled with them into a holy fervour, and lifted up above the cares and miseries and follies of the world, and experience that "in the multitude of the thoughts which he had in his heart, God's comforts refreshed his soul." "Surely, this is none other than the House of God and the Gate of Heaven!" "O how amiable are thy Tabernacles, thou Lord of Hosts. My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living. God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy House; they will be always praising Thee! One day in thy courts is better than a thousand." "I had rather be a door-keeper in the House of my God, than to dwell in the tents of ungodliness: for the Lord God is a light and defence; the Lord will give grace and worship; and no good thing shall He withhold from them that live a godly life."

[10] Such is the nature of the House of the Lord--such is to be the character of this Holy Place, which you have erected for the worship and service of Almighty God, and to the honour and glory of His great name. It is to be a Temple of Holiness--a Sanctuary of spiritual grace and consolation in the midst of the sins and miseries of the world. The very sight of it from without will remind the busy, forgetful multitude, that there is a God to be worshipped and glorified--that there is a judgment for the unholy--that there is a great fountain opened for sin and uncleanness--that there is a new and living way wherein men may find grace and life here, and pass on to everlasting glory hereafter. And then to all, who shall pass within the sacred vestibule, there will be presented here such a holy order--such a discovery of things unseen and eternal such fervor of devotion--such peace and reverence and humility and thankfulness, that they will be ready to say, "Surely the Lord is in this place; surely there is a blessing here!"--and so this Holy Place, from within and from without, will be to sinful men a Preacher of Righteousness--a witness for God and His Truth; and every one of you, who, by your offerings, may have set one of these stones or pillars in its place, to abide there through coming years, shall have in that stone or pillar a representative to give glory to God and to speak peace to the children of men, when you are departed to your rest. You pass away, but your good remains to bless successive generations, and to be, age after age, a power on the side of holiness and life, as other things in the world are, and will continue to be, powers on the side of sin and death. Be faithful unto death, and you shall be set as pillars in the Temple of God in Heaven, to go no more out forever.

But let us pass on, from this general view of the nature of Holy Places, to the thoughts more particularly suggested by the words of the text. Let us contemplate that sublime [10/11] prediction of the Psalmist, which shadows forth so beautifully a great characteristic of the extension of Christ's Kingdom on earth, and a great characteristic, as I trust, of the spirit of Christianity, as it is to be exemplified hereafter in the arrangements and services of this Christian Sanctuary--"In the day of thy power shall the people offer Thee freewill offerings with an holy worship."

The whole Psalm is a magnificent foreshadowing of the triumphant inthronization and power of Christ, of the nature of His reign, and of the means by which He was to be exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour. "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy Power out of Zion: be thou Ruler even in the midst among thine enemies. In the day of thy power shall the people offer Thee free-will offerings with an holy worship; the dew of thy birth is of the womb of the morning. The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedek." Here we see the incarnate Son, the God-man Christ Jesus, exalted to the right hand of the Father, as mediatorial Prince and Saviour, to be the Head of the Church and Judge of the world. We see His power going forth from Jerusalem, and making itself felt even among his enemies, subjugating persecutors and tormentors to His sway. We see that the great characteristics of the establishment and extension of His spiritual Kingdom are to be, free-will offerings from the people, and an holy worship. As He was to give himself an offering for the sins of His people, so were they to present themselves, body and soul, a living sacrifice their affections, their time, their talents, their worldly substance, a free-will offering, holy, acceptable unto God, their reasonable service. And in contradistinction, not only to the wide-spread abominations of heathen idolatry, but also to the grosser rites of the [11/12] Jewish system, made up as it was of types and shadows, there was to be, under the reign of the King Messiah, an holy worship suited to our clearer conceptions of the great object of worship, the ever-blessed and adorable Trinity, and suited also to the higher gifts imparted to us, to the sublimer mysteries we have to celebrate, to the more amazing benefits which we have to kindle our devotion, and to the mole open and transporting views vouchsafed to us of the worship of saints and angels in Heaven. Again we see in the Psalm before us, that we have- in Heaven a great High Priest who ever-liveth to make intercession for us, pleading the merits of His sacrifice once offered on the Cross, and bestowing. upon us those effectual benedictions which are a part of the Sacerdotal office. "His priesthood is not like that of Aaron, figurative, successive, transient, but real and effectual, fixed and incommunicable, eternal and unchangeable, according to that pattern of it exhibited to Abraham, before the Law, in the person of Melchisedek." [Bp. HORNE.]

The concluding verse of the Psalm, under a most beautiful and affecting image, represents to us the wonderful means whereby the Incarnate Son was to be exalted to so much power and glory---"He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall He lift up His head!" "As the poor pilgrim in the wilderness, parched with thirst and bowed down with the weight of his burden, stoops to drink of the brook in the way, and lifts up his head, and mounts the steep eminence with the more vigor for having descended to the lowly stream, so did our Saviour Christ, by stooping to drink the cup of trembling, to taste death for every man, win. His title to exaltation, in His human nature, to a seat at the right hand of the Father, as mediatorial Prince and Saviour." And so St: Paul says, "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross; wherefore [for which] God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name, which is above every name."

[13] So much, by the way, in regard to the sublime thin shadowed forth in this prophetical Psalm. We return for a few moments to the text, and to the interesting occasion which has called us together this morning. "In the Day of thy power shall the people offer Thee free-will offerings with an holy worship: The dew of thy Birth is of the womb of the morning." In regard to the latter clause of the verse we accept the construction of Bishop LOWTH: "More than the dew front the womb of the morning is the dew of thy progeny." Thy children, begotten to Thee through the Gospel, in the day of thy power, shall exceed in number as well as in brightness and beauty the spangles of early dew, which reflect the morning sun. Already has this prophecy been gloriously verified. The little one has become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation. The Holy Church throughout all the world, path her sacred Temples, her ministering servants, her thronging multitudes of fervent, grateful children, uniting in a Holy worship, and making the earth vocal with the praises of their God and Saviour. Have we not seen the day of Iris power? Have we not seen the "Gentiles come to His light, and kings to the brightness of His rising?" Have we not seen the glad converted nations willingly offering themselves, bringing with them their silver and their gold, that they might show forth the praises of the Lord? How many holy martyrs, who counted not their lives dear unto them! How many saintly men and women, who have been glad to spend and be spent for Christ and His Church, and the souls of their fellow men! How many goodly estates joyfully dedicated to the building and endowing of Holy Places, Hospitals, Asylums, in which the- bodies and souls of the perishing might be healed and cleansed as Christ himself healed and cleansed them visibly, when He was here on the earth! What a spirit of self-sacrifice for God and man, and of devoted service has sprung up in the waste, howling [13/14] wilderness of the world, under the influence of His grace, and His example, who "loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and made us Kings and Priests unto God!" Well spake our Lord to those disciples of John the Baptist, who came to inquire concerning his character and mission: "Go shew John again those things which ye do hear and see; how the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised up, and to the poor the Gospel is preached." Glorious evidence of a divine origin and mission--the same which the Church, the Spouse of Christ, now appeals to in proof that she is of God and not of the world.

In the true spirit of your Lord and of His Gospel, you have erected this House and consecrated it to the worship and service of Almighty God. It is to be a Free Church! a Church in which the poor may worship on terms of perfect equality with their brethren, and, if need be, without money and without price. It is to be a Church. in which, because it is the day of Christ's power, the "People shall offer free-will offerings with an holy worship"--a Church,, in which wealth shall purchase no precedence, bargain for no exclusive privileges, erect no enclosures for the indulgence of ease and luxury, or for the gratification of pride and vanity; a Church in which the stranger shall never be at a loss for a place to worship in, so long as there remains a vacant seat or a vacant spot on which to kneel!

It is to be a Church in which no man shall claim to hold any property. That which has been consecrated to the service of Almighty God cannot of right be subject to the title deeds of men. It is to be a Church of which the worship will be peculiarly entitled to be reverenced as a Holy worship, because offered in charity by brethren who, in this place, have all things in common each one "setting not by himself, but being lowly in his own eyes, and making much of them that fear [14/15] the Lord"--entitled to be honored as a holy worship, because upheld, not by a gainful traffick in the sale of exclusive privileges, but by free-will offerings laid reverently in faith and devotion on the altar of the Lord, according to the injunction of the Holy Apostle, "let every man do according as he is disposed in his heart, not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver." May I not add, that it will be a holy worship, because offered by the Priest in a peculiar spirit of faith and self-sacrifice. In this community I need not speak of his devotion, of his disinterestedness. It was, because he loved the poor--because he could not shut up his, bowels of compassion against the neglected little ones of Christ's Flock because he did not set a high value upon the good things of this life, but was content to suffer the loss of all things that he might "fulfil the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus," that he cast himself into this enterprise, without staying to make provision for the flesh! This Holy Place has been erected for free-will offerings and a Holy worship; these massive pillars, that stand around us, bear witness to the pious sympathy of friends, near and remote, because it was seen that the spiritual Pastor was a true soldier of the Cross, more willing to give himself than others could be to give of their substance for the service of God and the winning of souls for Heaven! Courage, brother! God will not forsake you! His people will not forsake you! Those little ones, whose angels do always behold the face of our Father in Heaven; they will plead for you! The poor, with whom Christ identifies himself, will be to you a richer endowment than houses or lands! God will raise up friends and open the hearts of strangers, and you shall see the work of the Lord prosper in your hands. And we, my brethren of the Clergy, let us warm ourselves by his fire! let us take a lesson from his daily life, and go back with reanimated zeal to toil by day, and [15/16] meditate and pray by night, that our blessed Master may be glorified in the salvation of the souls committed to our charge!

I have expressed the satisfaction we all feel that this is to be a Free Church. Far be it from me to throw undue disparagement upon that system of enclosed pews which is so generally established among us, and which is retained in the Holy Places in which most of my brethren and myself minister. It has its advantages. It has its conveniences; but it is greatly liable to abuse; it mars the perfect moral beauty of the Sanctuary; it holds up an erroneous ideal of Christian worship; it introduces invidious distinctions. into the House of God, where they ought least to appear; it substitutes a low worldly principle of hire and purchase for the religious principle of presenting all that we do for the ministrations of the Sanctuary, in. the form of offerings made directly to Almighty God, and laid devoutly and reverently upon His altar! It makes it difficult, if not impossible, to fill up the vacant spaces which are often so much needed for the use of worshippers in the Holy Place! The stranger and the poor, who ought ever to be encouraged and invited to enter the House of God, the system of enclosed pews often repels, because they are liable to find doors closed against them, and to be made to feel that they are dependent upon doubtful courtesy for that which belongs to every Christian as matter of right! For who can doubt for an instant, that so long as a single place remains vacant in the House of the Lord, any Christian worshipper, who may present himself, ought to be esteemed as having a perfect right to prostrate himself there, and offer up there his prayer and supplication to Almighty God! And yet, in spite of the generally prevailing kindness and courtesy, how many there are, especially in large cities, who look upon their pew, no less than their house, as their castle, and who deem that for any one to come into it, [16/17] unless very ceremoniously invited, however empty it may be, is an invasion and an impertinence!! You enter the House of God, or conduct a stranger there, and, without special civility on the part of others, you may not know where to look for a place to pray in! Instead of a welcome, instead
of open and common privileges, you may find every thing closed against you!

It is expressly written in Holy Scripture, that "God hath chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him." In looking about modern places of worship, one is sometimes almost tempted to suspect that the Church of these days has reversed the principle of her Lord, and chosen to herself only the rich of this world to be her exclusive favorites--and that for others they are rather borne with than chosen and delighted in! I know indeed that this is not really so--I have good reason for rejoicing in the reflection that Parishes in which the enclosed pew system prevails, are, many of them, no whit behind others in bounty or, in considerate pains-taking kindness to the poor. But in the Holy Place, in the arrangements of the Sanctuary, there is an inequality--there is a respect for persons, which prevents the solemn assembly from exhibiting to the eye of the beholder a true image of the Communion of Saints, and of the perfect beauty of Christian Holiness.

It is perhaps too much to expect that any one system of arrangement in the Holy Place will, in our day, if ever, become universal in the Church. But I rejoice, my brethren, that you have chosen the more excellent way; I am glad that you have entered into no compact exacted no securities, that your pride, or convenience, or ease, shall be especially provided for and respected in this House which you have assisted to erect for the worship and service of Almighty God. I am glad that you have determined to buy with your [17/18] offerings to the great Head of the Church no precedence over His poor. I am rejoiced that you are fixed in your purpose to have no buying and selling in the Holy Place; no silver and gold, but such as shall be presented as a Holy free-will offering, the exponent of your devotion and not of your pride, and laid in reverent thankfulness and humility on the altar of your Lord, for the service of His Church and of His poor. May the blessing of Almighty God rest upon you and upon your spiritual Pastor in all your endeavors to honor Him and to uphold a true and neglected principle! May He ever give you grace to vindicate and justify to the Church and to the world the system you have adopted, by the pious liberality with which you maintain and carry it out! May your offerings ever be free-will offerings--the offerings of devout and grateful hearts; and as your worship is holy in its order, in its seraphic fervour, in its perfect conformity to the Truth of God, so may it ever be holy, as the offering of pure, sincere, contrite and devoted souls! Through successive ages, may your children be as the glittering dew of the morning, countless in number, and bright with the reflected splendors of the Sun of Righteousness beautiful on earth, and meet and ready for eternal glory in Heaven!

NOTE. The writer, having several years since allowed some remarks of his on the subject of Free Churches to be printed, has not felt inclined to, go into any formal argument on the subject upon the present occasion. Since the foregoing Discourse was preached he has met with some admirable remarks, in a late Charge of the Rt. Rev. JOHN MEDLEY, Bishop of Frederickton, to which he begs to call the attention of the reader. They are as follows:

"When the subject of a Cathedral was first mooted in this town, I expressly stipulated that the seats should all be free, and not appropriated as the property of the seat-owners. I have now for eight years tried the experiment of free seats by a very severe test, and I am perfectly satisfied with the result. Nor can any thing convince me that the sale of pews is agreeable to the will of GOD, if the Bible be true. [18/19] Merchandise in the House of GOD is expressly. forbidden by our LORD, in wide and general terms, and on two occasions was punished by Him with a severity which He used in no other ease, and which denoted His exceeding dislike of the system. And no reason ever alleged in its behalf goes beyond a supposed convenience resulting from the sale of seats. The tendency to selfishness in the proceeding, the entire neglect of those who cannot afford to pay, the unchristian definition of a churchman as a man who owns a pew, the irreverence fostered in men's habits of worship, and the disregard of our LORD's plain words, these evils, it seems, are all to be overlooked, because a certain sum of money is raised, and families can sit by themselves. With regard to the first of these allegations, must not the same persons pay the money) by whatever methods it may be obtained? Is it essential to a Christian man's offering, that he should always have a present return, a palpable interest for his money? Is not a true offering made in faith and love? Can there be faith, when sight is the governing principle? Can there be love, when the business is at bottom a commercial transaction? For the purchase-money paid for a pew, instead of being a free-will offering of love to the Almighty; partakes of the same feeling which guides the purchase of timber or the exchange of stock. It is framed on a purely monetary basis, and is the preference of our own convenience to the direct commands of GOD."

"The desire of parents to have their children with their, and to overlook them during public worship, is doubtless most natural and becoming. But those who take care to be in time for service, will never find any difficulty here in the performance of this duty. This Church is amply sufficient for the ordinary congregation, and will hold, practically speaking, many more than if it had been divided into large appropriated pews. Then as to the question of money, has not the Church anticipated our difficulties in this respect? Has she not provided in the Prayer Book a simple, convenient, brotherly, and most primitive way, by which each worshipper may weekly make an offering to GOD, the poor of their poverty, the rich of their abundance, by the frequency of its return ensuring its sufficiency, by the Scriptural manner of its performance commending it to the acceptance of Him, who by His inspired Apostle has expressly [19/20] advised such methods of contribution. How Christian men who profess to love their Bible, how Churchmen who profess an assent to their Prayer Books, can prefer to this godly custom a practice expressly condemned by our LORD, and productive of so much habitual evil in the Church, I cannot understand. I am bound however by good faith, as well as by my strong convictions, to adhere to an opposite line of conduct. The building of the Cathedral was undertaken on the understanding, publicly and repeatedly announced, that the seats should be free. The largest donations to it (that, in particular, of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, of £2000 sterling,) were given on the same stipulation. And all the liberal contributions of English friends, exceeding £7000 were bestowed with the same view. It is impossible for me to return special acknowledgements to each generous donor, I must content myself with returning generally to them all my humble and most grateful thanks, on your part, I may say, and my own, especially to those, some of whom, with untiring energy of purpose, and love for the cause, others with the labor of their own hands, have wrought in the work, and spared no expense to render our offering to our SAVIOUR acceptable to His love."

The writer hopes it will not be inferred, from anything he has said, that he regards Free Churches as designed exclusively or even chiefly for the poor. He could never approve of any system which should contemplate a separation of the rich from the poor. The Church of God can never be truly beautiful, nor in the highest degree useful, without exhibiting that feature which must ever characterize a community of Christians: "The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all." O that there might be one place in the world where they could meet together, as far as possible, without distinction!

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