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Title: Memorials of Francis Storr
Author: Hoare, Edward N.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1888 William Rice edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org



                                Memorials
                                    OF
                              FRANCIS STORR.


                                * * * * *

                                _SERMONS_
                                    BY
                            REV. CANON HOARE,
                                   AND
                               REV. W. MAY,

          _Preached in Brenchley Church_, _26 February_, _1888_.

                                   ALSO

                  _NOTES OF THE LAST SERMON PREACHED BY_
                              REV. F. STORR,
                          _12 February_, _1888_.

                                * * * * *

                                 LONDON:
                   WILLIAM RICE, 86 FLEET STREET, E.C.

                                * * * * *



In Memoriam.
FRANCIS STORR.


              _From the_ GUARDIAN, _Feb._ 29_th_, 1888. {3}

On Saturday, February 25th, the mortal remains of the Rev. Francis Storr,
for thirty-four years Vicar of the parish, were buried in the beautiful
churchyard of Brenchley.  The snow lay thick upon the ground, but the sun
shone bright in heaven, and the outward scene symbolised and reflected
the feelings of the mourners—the blank sorrow of a bereaved parish, and
the rejoicing that the last prayer of their beloved pastor had been
granted, and that he had been summoned home before increasing years had
necessitated that resignation of his work and ministry which would have
been to him a living death.

His work was well described by Canon Hoare, who preached the funeral
sermon:—“He was a true specimen of a devoted parish clergyman.  He did
not take much part in things outside his parish.  Most thankful should we
have often been if we had had more of his help and counsel in matters
concerning the diocese and the Church.  But the parish was his sphere,
the parish was his home, and the parish was the one object for the
benefit of which he spent his life.”  The Bishop of Dover writes,—“No one
could possibly be half-an-hour in his company without seeing a
transparently Christian character, the chief features of which were
personal humility and genial sociability.”  And the Archbishop of
Canterbury writes,—“My last day in Brenchley, and my walk and talk with
him were one of the never-to-be-forgotten days.  The labour and the love
which turned an affliction so great [his blindness] into a gain, were
indeed in the very spirit of St. Paul and of his Master.”

Born in 1808, and educated at Harrow and Queen’s College, Oxford, he
entered the ministry in 1833 as curate of Up-Waltham, in Sussex, where he
often exchanged pulpits with Archdeacon (now Cardinal) Manning.  In 1837,
he was appointed to the rectory of Otley in Suffolk, through the
instrumentality of the present Bishop of Norwich, who, with a
conscientiousness which was in those days rarer than now, refused himself
to hold two livings.  The parish had never before had a resident
incumbent.  A dilapidated and empty church was speedily restored and
filled.  The young preacher with his striking presence, clear voice, and
impassioned delivery, attracted a congregation not only from his own
parish, but from the neighbouring villages, where in those days such
preaching was unknown, so that hearers from twenty-three different
parishes have been counted at one Otley service.

In 1846, he was presented by Lord Tollemache, who as a near neighbour had
seen and appreciated his work at Otley, to the living of Acton, in
Cheshire.  Acton is a large and straggling agricultural parish, but with
the help of curates and district visitors, he soon got to know each
household almost as intimately as in the village of Otley, and any one in
trouble, whether of mind or body, instinctively turned to the Vicarage.
Acton was one of the first parishes, if not the first parish, to give up
generally the practice of Sunday cheese-making.  Till, at his
instigation, the experiment was tried, it had been pronounced by farmers
an impossibility.  After eight years of incessant labour (he was hardly
absent as many Sundays from his parish), the declining health of his wife
compelled him to move southward, and he was appointed to the living of
Brenchley, vacant by the death of the Rev. R. Davies, Secretary of the
C.M.S., whose widow some years later became his second wife.  The special
work of his predecessor was carried on by him with ever-increasing zeal
and success, and, whereas in 1848 Brenchley had scarcely heard of the
C.M.S., in 1887 the contribution from the parish amounted to over £300.
Part of this sum came from outside friends who knew that the most
acceptable birthday present they could make to the Vicar was a
subscription to his favourite Society, but the larger proportion was
given in sixpences and coppers.  It must not be supposed that this
preference made him overlook other claims, or ignore other charitable
societies.  In particular, the London City Mission, the Flower Mission,
and the Bible Society were very near his heart.  As for the wants of his
own parishioners, he not only gave profusely himself, but he was
indefatigable in urging their claims on all who could or would give.  He
was, I believe, the first incumbent in Kent to remit, without
solicitation, a percentage of the tithe.  Latterly, in hop-gardens where
no hops were picked, the tithe was wholly remitted, and no farmer who was
in real straits was ever pressed for payment.  For labourers out of work,
work was somehow made or found.  Thus, during the last winter, as many as
thirty at a time were employed by him in road-making.  Endless similar
charities might be recorded, and still more were done in secret and
unknown; but these would wholly fail to represent “that best portion of a
good man’s life, his little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of
love.”  His utter unselfishness and his quick power of sympathy endeared
him to an ever-widening circle of friends.  He never lost sight of any he
had known, and all, whether rich or poor, knew that, if content with
simple fare, they would be welcome visitors at the Vicarage.

During the last ten years of his life, the greatest of earthly privations
was sent him.  There was a gradual failure of sight, ending in total
blindness.  None who knew him even slightly can have failed to admire the
serenity and cheerfulness with which this loss was borne.  Like Milton,
he “bated not a jot of heart or hope, but still bore up and steered right
onward . . . content, though blind.”  He never would admit that it was to
him a heavy trial, though to a man of his independent character and
restless energy it must have been a daily thorn in the flesh.  Thanks to
the guidance of loving hands, he was able to continue to the last his
pastoral visits, and would fearlessly mount the narrowest and steepest
stairs of cottages, wherever the sick or dying needed his ministrations.
His sermons and lectures seemed almost to gain in power by his
concentration of thought and abstraction from objects of sense.  He would
not rarely take (I had almost written “read”) the whole of the Morning
Service, including the Psalms and the Holy Communion.  Even in his
eightieth year his memory was hardly impaired, and he would give chapter
and verse for text after text quoted in his sermons.  His knowledge of
the Bible was wonderful; it was as if he had it photographed on his
heart.  The last sermon, preached only nine days before his death, was
clear, stirring, and energetic, and bore no trace of flagging powers.

His life was one of the many golden threads that run through the
variegated warp of England’s Church history, and show the continuity of
her ministry.  Though severed by five centuries, he is the direct lineal
descendant of Chaucer’s “poure Persoun of a toun,” and there is scarce a
word in that marvellous portraiture that might not have been written of
Francis Storr, for

          “Christes lore, and his apostles twelve,
    He taughte, but first he folwede it himselve.”



In Memoriam.
FRANCIS STORR.


                 _From the_ RECORD, _March_ 2_nd_, 1888.

Among the deaths of last week our readers will have seen the name of the
Rev. Francis Storr, Vicar of Brenchley, Kent.  The news reached us only
in time to record the bare fact, but we cannot pass over in silence a
life, uneventful indeed, but none the less noteworthy.  Mr. Storr was one
of the oldest, if not the oldest, of a remarkable band of men, linked
together by common views and doctrines, but still more closely united by
the apostolic zeal and devotedness to Christ’s service which animated one
and all.  He was the brother-in-law and intimate ally of Dean Champneys
and Bishop Utterton, and the life-long friend of the Bishop of Norwich
and the Bishop of Liverpool.

Born in 1808, he graduated at Oxford in 1833 (the year of the first
appearance of _Tracts for the Times_), being awarded an honorary Fourth
Class.  With the Tractarian movement he felt no sympathy, and, though on
terms of friendship with some of the leaders of that movement, from the
very first he threw in his lot with the Evangelical party, never swerving
in his allegiance to the end, though ripening years taught him more and
more to see good in everything and to attach less importance to party
distinctions.  In the same year he was ordained by the Bishop of
Chichester to the curacy of Up-Waltham, and two years after he took the
curacy of Beckenham, Kent.  Here he married his first wife, Caroline,
daughter of Colonel Holland of Langley Farm, Beckenham, a true and
constant helpmate during the twenty years that she was spared to share
his labours.  In 1837 he was presented to the living of Otley, in
Suffolk, and in this small but neglected parish his energies found for a
time full scope.  When he came, there was no parsonage (no previous
Rector had ever lived in the parish), the church was dilapidated, and the
churchyard a neglected waste.  A parsonage was built, the church
restored, and the churchyard reclaimed.  But the spiritual change wrought
by his means in the parish was even more striking.  The voice of one
crying, not in a dissenting chapel, but from a Church of England pulpit,
“Repent ye,” and appealing with all the fervour and some of the eloquence
of a Whitfield, to the individual conscience was a strange sound in that
sleepy hollow.  Those who had never before set foot in a church came,
first from curiosity, then from genuine interest, and then carried the
good news to their neighbours, so that the little church could sometimes
not contain the hearers who came from twenty parishes round.  His sermons
were wholly extempore; he never took a note with him into the pulpit.  In
the most literal sense of the words, “he preached unto them the
Scriptures,” for having studied the text of the Bible as few clergymen
are now wont in these days of multiplied expositions and commentaries,
and being gifted with a strong memory, he would pour forth verse after
verse in support of any point he was urging, giving in each case the
exact reference.  But it was even more by house-to-house visitation than
in the pulpit that he made his influence felt.  By his absolute
unselfishness, his large-hearted sympathy, his deep personal humility,
and his genial humour, he found his way sooner or later to every heart,
and Dissenters who would denounce him in public as part and parcel of the
hated and apostate Establishment, welcomed him in private as their truest
counsellor and friend.  Over children he exercised almost a fascination;
they would follow him along the village street like the Pied Piper, and
for each child he would have his sportive nickname or little private
joke.

Leaving Otley for Acton was one of the greatest trials to his singularly
affectionate nature, and to the end of his life Otley and its people were
very dear to his heart.  But, much as he loved his first parish, he felt
that he could not resist the call to a wider sphere of duty.  Of his work
at Acton, his successful crusade against Sunday cheese-making, and his
unflagging work and labour, both spiritual and sanitary, in the fatal
cholera year, we have left ourselves no space to speak.  We must pass to
the last and longest chapter of his life at Brenchley, of which for
thirty-four years he was the Vicar.  Succeeding the Rev. Richard Davies,
the faithful and devoted Secretary of the C.M.S., he accepted as a sacred
legacy the furtherance of the claims of that Society.  How successfully
he pleaded its cause is shown by the fact that in 1886 Brenchley, a rural
parish with no resident squire, sent up a larger contribution than the
whole of Scotland.  The chief proportion of this came from the coppers of
missionary boxes, and the proceeds of a missionary basket to which an old
servant of the family was “told off.”  During his incumbency the growing
district of Paddock Wood, and the off-lying hamlet of Matfield, were made
into separate parishes.  If all parishes had had an Incumbent like the
Vicar of Brenchley, we may confidently say that the question of
extraordinary tithe would never have arisen.  Each defaulter was treated
by him as a tenant in arrears with his rent would be treated by an
indulgent landlord, and in bad years some remission of tithe was freely
granted at a time when such indulgence was unknown, at least in Kent.
Nor were the labourers less cared for than the farmers.  No man or woman
who could show a plausible case of distress was ever sent empty away from
the Vicarage, and relief was always, if possible, given in kind or by
providing employment.  For the hop-pickers who swarmed each autumn from
the slums of London one or more Scripture-readers from the London City
Mission were always retained; field meetings, magic-lantern
entertainments, &c., were got up; pressure was brought to bear on the
farmers to supply more decent sleeping accommodation—in a word, they were
treated for the time as members of the flock, and, as far as time and
opportunity permitted, Christianised.  Of his private life this is not
the place to speak, but this much we may venture to state—no man since
Dr. Primrose numbered so many poor relations, for the plea of poverty or
distress was at once admitted by him as a claim of kinship.  And he never
lost sight of a friend.  Curates who had worked with him forty years ago
would still write to seek his counsel and help in any difficulty.

For the last ten years of his life it pleased God to afflict him with the
hardest of human trials—the total loss of sight.  Yet he found a way to
turn his loss to gain, and his noble example of cheerful and almost
joyous resignation to the will of his Father more than compensated for
any diminution of his energy as a pastor.  Not indeed that he relaxed or
slackened his work to the very end.  In his eightieth year it was his
habit to take the Communion Service and Sermon in the Morning, and to
read Prayers in the Afternoon; and, though he had necessarily to depend
more on others for seeking information and carrying out his behests, no
household in the parish was unknown or uncared for.

His last prayer, ἐν φάει καὶ ὄλεσσον, was granted him, and he died in
harness, quietly, almost painlessly, and with consciousness to the last.
One minute only before he was taken, he asked one of his sons on what
text he had preached the previous Sunday, and on being told, “Our Father,
which art in heaven,” he whispered, “Our Father—in those two words,
rightly understood, lies the whole of the Gospel.”



I.
SERMON
BY
REV. CANON HOARE, M.A.
_Sunday Morning_, _February_ 26_th_, 1888.


    Ezekiel xxxiii. 33: “_And when this cometh to pass_ (_lo_, _it will
    come_), _then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them_.”

YOU can see at a glance the application of these words to the solemn
occasion that has brought us together this day.  They were spoken to
Ezekiel.  He was a very popular and attractive preacher.  The people sat
before him, and his words were unto them “as a very lovely song of one
that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument.”  But
they produced no effect; for the people heard his words, but they did
them not.  These words were therefore spoken to warn them that when
certain predicted troubles should arise, they would learn the truth of
Ezekiel’s ministry.  Those troubles are described in verses 27, 28; and
these words were added to warn the people that when all this should come
to pass—which it most surely would do—they would then learn the awful
fact that there had been a terrible reality in the message of the
prophet, and be taught by too late experience that, although they had
regarded him not, they had had a prophet among them.

Now, the word “prophet” is not applied only to those persons who were
moved by the Spirit to predict the future, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and
Ezekiel.  It means one who speaks forth the Word of God, and proclaims
the message of God in the Lord’s name.  It is a term therefore that, in
this its wider sense, may well be applied to your late beloved pastor,
our dear and honoured brother now taken from us, of whom it may be said
with the most perfect truth that for thirty-four years he went in and out
a true prophet among you.

He was a prophet in the true meaning of the word, for he spent his life
in publishing or speaking forth amongst you the hidden mysteries of the
salvation of God.  We quite acknowledge that he was not a prophet like
Ezekiel, carried away in lofty flights of inspired ecstasy; nor like John
the Baptist, feeding on locusts and wild honey; but he was one who was in
his own quiet, devoted life a true prophet, and who for fifty-five years
laboured for souls and faithfully preached Christ Jesus his Saviour.

I have no words to express my profound reverence for such a man.  He was
a true specimen of that most honourable class, the country clergymen of
the Church of England.  He did not take much part in things outside the
parish.  Most thankful should we often have been if we had had more of
his valuable help and counsel in matters concerning the Diocese and the
Church.  But the parish was his sphere, the parish was his home, and the
parish was the great object for which he spent his life.

Remember him, then, in his Pastoral work.  For thirty-four years (the
best part of his ministry) you have enjoyed this privilege.  I am
speaking, I know, to a bereaved flock; and I want you to look back on
your past privileges.  He went in his pastoral work into the homes of his
people.  Think of him: how kind, how faithful, how full of sympathy, how
diligent in visiting, even in his blindness.  Was he not in very truth a
true friend to you all?  I am sure every heart must answer, “He was.”

Think of him among the Young.  The majority of you must have grown up
under his care, and you know what an interest he took in you; how he
watched over you in the schools, cared for you in your confirmation, and
welcomed you when you became communicants at the Table of the Lord.

In my position at Tunbridge Wells, I see young people from all the
surrounding villages, and by the candidates which I have for confirmation
I can form some estimate of what is going on in the different parishes.
Now I always have a good hope when I have to do with young people who
have been brought up at Brenchley.  I find them, as a general rule, well
trained in the Gospel.  I cannot say that they all love it, but they have
been taught it, and all that the pastor can do has been done for them in
their early training.  How many are there in this church at this present
time who can look back with profound thanksgiving to lessons taught them
in early life by that venerable man!

Think of him in his Missionary work.  I do not mean in parochial
missions, such as you have just been having—I mean in his warm love for
that grand institution, the Church Missionary Society.  Were there ever
known such Bible and Missionary meetings as those in his schoolroom?
What a holy enthusiasm did he kindle amongst us!  What a glow there was
all around him!  The dullest hearts could not fail to catch his fire.
How he knew the history of each box!  He could not see the records
because of his blindness, but he knew all about the boxes and their
possessors; and it was impossible to be apathetic in his presence.  And
what was the secret of it all?  How was it brought about?  How was this
fire kindled—this enthusiasm?  Was it not that he was a man of prayer?  I
remember the last meeting I was at in Brenchley.  Just before we left the
Vicarage we knelt together in his study, and there he poured out his
whole soul before God, and pleaded for that blessing which he found
awaiting him when we reached the schoolroom.  There was the secret of his
power, and there it was that he learned that even in his loss of eyesight
God’s grace was sufficient for his need.

Then think of him in the Church.  What a wonderful thing to have seen
that man, totally blind, standing at the Communion Table only last Ash
Wednesday, and going through the service with the Epistle and Gospel as
well as those who have their full vision.  It was a grand thing to see
the blind man not reading the prayers but repeating them.  He had loved
those prayers throughout his ministry; he had prayed them all through the
days of his eyesight, and they had become so completely a part of himself
that, when his eyesight was gone, the prayers remained written both on
his memory and soul; so that instead of sight he had memory, and instead
of his prayer-book he made use of the fleshy tables of the heart.  That
is the way to pray.

And then follow him to the Pulpit.  How often has he stood in this pulpit
to plead with you!  He must have preached in this church between three
and four thousand sermons! and who can measure the value of such a
ministry?  Here he stood as the ambassador for Christ, “warning every man
and teaching every man in all wisdom that he might present every man
perfect in Christ Jesus,” &c.  Here he stood to warn the wicked, to
awaken the careless, to carry hope to the convicted, to proclaim pardon
to the repentant, help to the weak, comfort to the afflicted, and to give
food to those hungering and thirsting after righteousness.  To sum up, he
preached the Gospel of God through the power of the Holy Ghost.  And how
earnestly did he do it, and how prayerfully! how faithfully and yet how
tenderly!  How did his heart yearn for souls!  How did he first plead
with God for sinners in his own home, and then come here to plead with
sinners for God!  It is to such preaching as this that for the last
thirty-four years you have listened habitually, and who shall venture to
say that there has not been a prophet among you?

Once more, look at him on his Death-bed.  For a long time it had been his
constant prayer that it would please God to take him home before he had
to give up his work, and so when the answer came all was ready.  There
was no alarm, no hurry, no confusion.  He could still think of his
beloved people whom he was about to leave, mentioning by name some of the
sick and aged whom he was habitually visiting.  He could say, as Mr.
Standfast in “Pilgrim’s Progress” did, “I see myself now at the end of my
journey; my toilsome days are ended.  I have formerly lived by faith, but
now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him in whose
company I delight myself.”

And so in the peaceful calm of an assured faith, with his blessed Saviour
full in view, and his beloved people, like the names on Aaron’s
breastplate, borne still on his heart, he could step across the
border-line to receive from his Lord, whom he had so faithfully served
and so truly loved, the blessed welcome, “Well done, good and faithful
servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

And now, what was the secret of the whole character and the whole work?
What was it that made him what he was in the home, in the parish, amongst
the young, in the mission work, in the church, and on his death-bed?
What was it that was the very essence of his life?

There was one thing, and one only.  And what was that?  I appeal to all
who knew him.  Am I not right in saying that it was nothing else than the
glorious old Gospel of the Grace of God in Christ Jesus, his blessed
Saviour?  On that he lived, on that he laboured, on that he died; and
that was the one secret of his peace and power.  He was not ashamed of
the Gospel of Christ; he knew it as the power of God unto salvation in
his own soul, and he did not want to attempt to improve it by any
new-fangled notions of the nineteenth century.  He believed in what have
been called the three R’s—Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration.  He was one
of what people call the old-fashioned Evangelical school—and a very good
fashion too, for what foundation so good as one that has been tried?  He
believed in the utter ruin of human nature; in the satisfaction of the
Law through the propitiatory sacrifice of the Son of God; in the free
pardon through the Blood of the Lamb, and justification through faith
alone; in the perfection of imputed righteousness; in the new birth by
the Holy Ghost; in His sanctifying power in the souls of believers.  He
believed that the Lord Jesus Christ would come again, and would keep His
people safe to the end; and with a happy, peaceful, bright expectation,
he could live “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing
of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”  These were the great
principles of his life; and by them was his whole character governed.
These were the truths on which he lived himself, and which he taught in
his ministry; and these were the principles which I trust he has left
indelibly written on the hearts and understandings of all of you, who for
these many years have enjoyed the privilege of being members of his
flock.

We are all agreed, then, that there has been a true prophet among you;
and now the question is, What has been the result of his prophecy?  His
labour is over, he is gone to his rest, and we may apply to him the
words, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea,
saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works
do follow them” (Rev. xiv. 13).  And now we have to consider what works
there are to follow him.  In the case of Ezekiel there was great
disappointment.  He was an inspired man, and a most attractive preacher.
He was one that was heard with admiration; but there was no result, for
the people did not act on his words.

Now I fear we must believe that it has been the same with some at
Brenchley, for we have no reason to expect that the results of our
ministry will be different to that of the ministry of St. Paul, of which
it is said, “Same believed the things which were spoken, and some
believed not” (Acts xxviii. 24).  In all probability, therefore, there
are in this parish some who have been familiar with the venerable man
labouring amongst them, and who have often heard his earnest words, but
have never yet been touched in heart by the grace of God.  The hard heart
has never yet been broken, the self-will has never yet submitted, and
they are still as far from God as if there had never been a prophet among
them.  Now, if there be such here, remember.  You will never hear that
voice again; you will no more listen to his earnest pleadings with you
for your souls.  But those appeals may still tell on you.  It is said of
Abel, “He, being dead, yet speaketh.”  Now you know his character, you
know how true and consistent he was; you have heard how peacefully he
could depart to be with Christ; and may not his death reach your heart
even if his life has failed to do so?  What do you think he would say to
you now if he could speak from heaven?  He might speak possibly with more
persuasive earnestness, but I do not believe there would be the slightest
change in his message.  I firmly believe that it would be nothing but the
same old, old story—Christ Jesus for the sinner, and the sinner for
Christ Jesus.  Think, then, of all you can remember of his ministry.  You
will never hear it again, so gather up the fragments that remain that
nothing be lost.  In some cases there may be but very little, for Satan
carried most of it away before you left the church; but let that little
tell.  If you remember nothing more, remember, at all events, his
earnestness for your souls’ salvation; remember how he watched for your
souls as one that must give account; and if you pained and grieved him by
your carelessness when here, remember that you may possibly be able to
gladden him even now, for are we not told that “there is joy in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth,” &c.?  So let his heart be gladdened even
in heaven; let the angels carry up the blessed tidings that the lost
sheep is found, and do you listen to those words of St. Peter, which I am
sure would be the words of the saint before the throne: “Repent and be
converted every one of you, that your sins may be blotted out.”

But it is not to all that I would repeat those words, for I cannot doubt
for one moment that the ministry of my dear friend was not in vain in the
Lord.  There cannot be the slightest doubt that God has richly blessed
that ministry to the salvation of very many souls.  Who can doubt that
there are at this present moment very many with himself before the Throne
of God, who owe their place there to God’s blessing on his work in this
parish?  What a loving welcome must they have given him last Wednesday!
And how many are there amongst the living; how many in this church this
morning; how many of you who are now before me, have reason to bless God
for all eternity for that knowledge of Christ Jesus your Saviour which
you learned through the instrumentality of him who will now speak to you
no more?  May it not be said of this church, “This and that man was born
here”?  Has not God the Holy Ghost brought life to your souls in Christ
Jesus, that life which is in the knowledge of Him? and have you not
reason most profoundly to thank God for him whom He sent to be to you the
messenger of mercy?

And now he is gone, and what are you to do?  The prophet is gone, and
what remains?  That is a good verse for such an occasion in Phil. ii. 12,
for it is the voice of the absent pastor, and it teaches that the flock
when bereaved must be thrown on their own personal union with God
himself—“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my
presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own
Salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  So now remember that the
Lord Jesus Christ is not taken from you.  Though your beloved Vicar is
gone, your Saviour remains.  You may draw as near to Him this day as you
did when that beloved voice led you in prayer.  So keep fast to Him, and
in Him to each other.  Whenever there is a change in the ministry there
is a tendency to unsettlement, but let there be no unsettlement here.  Do
not begin to wander because he is gone; but walk in the steps in which he
sought to lead you, as consistent Churchmen abiding in the old paths, and
as humble believers so keeping close to the Lord Jesus Christ that,
through the power of the Holy Ghost given in Him, you may be enabled
through His great grace to glorify His name.



II.
SERMON
BY
REV. W. May, M.A.
_Sunday Afternoon_, _February_ 26_th_, 1888.


    2 Kings ii. 5: “_Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master
    from thy head to-day_? _and he answered_, _Yea_, _I know it_, _hold
    ye your peace_.”

WOULD not an empty pulpit to-day have been the most effective sermon?
The voice which for thirty-four years has spoken to you from this place,
so faithfully, so fervently, so wisely, and with the eloquence always of
love—that voice is silent.  There was once “silence in heaven about the
space of half-an-hour;” and a still silence might be a speaking testimony
here, to him who on Wednesday week was ministering in this church, and
the Wednesday after was called home—a testimony to the life which he led,
to the truths which he taught, and the precious fragrance of loving words
and deeds which he has left behind.  It seems as if God Himself were
dealing with us, too closely almost for human intervention; dealing with
our consciences, our memories, our hearts.  The Lord has taken away our
master from our head to-day.  Should we not hold our peace?  Ought we not
to be dumb and open not our mouth, because He is acting?  Should we not
in thought and imagination go in and stand before our Master, judging
ourselves that we be not judged of the Lord, accounting to Him for the
way we have dealt with His servant, and then, convicted every one of
us—as well we may be, the preacher first—by our own conscience, go out
one by one, saying, “How dreadful is this place: this is none other but
the House of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”  For a gate of heaven
truly it is.  It has been the gate of heaven for twenty-five years to the
speaker, and but for words spoken at this gate, God only knows whether he
would be able to-day to subscribe with his hand unto the Lord and say, “I
am His.”  Sermons reckoned by the thousand, full of sacred truth, full of
sanctified common sense, full of marked originality, full of “power and
love and of a sound mind”—these have to be accounted for.

And his prayers, public and private—prayers put up for us on every
possible occasion—effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man standing
ever in thought and feeling in the presence of God, and in the sweet,
bracing, healthful atmosphere of unfeigned love to man, these are
responsibilities which none can evade.

What a true pastor he was! what a faithful friend! what a saintly
servant! what a large-hearted man!  Which of us but has had proof, nay,
countless proofs of his loving-kindness?  Which of us could ever have
succeeded, even if we had wished, in making that man our enemy?  Oh!
brethren, tears may well be in our hearts to-day—well may we weep for
ourselves and for our children, weep because he is gone, weep because not
one of us appreciated him enough, prayed for him enough, loved him
enough, while he was still here.  Oh! but he was a pastor who pressed his
dear people to his heart, and then bore them up on that large heart of
his before his divine Master,—every one of us, and our needs were
continually in his mind.  And now the Master has need of _him_, and has
come and called him away; and, after a short and comparatively easy
passage, he has forded the river, and gone up the shining path, and we
stand alone and cry, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the
horsemen thereof,” and we see him no more.

And yet he would not have us silent to-day.  He would bid us encourage
ourselves, encourage one another in the Lord.  He would exhort us to
preach the Word.  He would remind us that the time is short, and beseech
us to buy up the opportunity.  Let us do it, checking our tears.  Did not
we hear only yesterday that word of Christ, “Whosoever liveth and
believeth in me shall never die”?  Is there then loss to-day of any man’s
_life_ amongst us, or only of the ship?  “Not lost, but gone before,” is
that life, if the word of Christ be true.  Our pastor “is not dead, but
sleepeth.”  The ship is broken by the violence of the waves, but all the
_life_ is “safe to land.”  The casket is shattered, but the precious
jewel is in the hand, nay, in the very bosom of the Saviour.  “He is not
dead, but sleepeth.”  _Dead_ four days?  Nay, but _alive_, with a life
far brighter and keener and more joyous than he ever had on earth!  He
sleeps well, and presently the Lord of life will say, “I go that I may
awake him out of sleep.”  And how near that day-dawn, that awaking time
may be, the morning of the resurrection, when the dead in Christ shall
rise first.  Meanwhile, the voice that speaks to us from that farther
shore, aye, and will speak “till thought and memory flee”—that voice
saith in death, when it cannot be silent, what it would have hesitated in
its humility to say in life: “Be ye followers of me, even as I am of
Christ.”  And so we call upon the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Living
God and of Jesus, and offer this prayer—

    “Refining fire, go through my heart,
       Illuminate my soul;
    Scatter Thy life through every part,
       And sanctify the whole.

    “My steadfast soul from falling free,
       Shall then no longer move,
    And Christ be all in all to me,
       And all my heart be love.”

Turn we now from our dear master who has been taken away to that Master,
still more dear, that perfect Master, “chiefest among ten thousand, and
altogether lovely,” who remains.  _They_ fail, but _Thou_ remainest.
Human friends, comforters, pastors forsake us, but Thou, O Christ, art
with us all the days even unto the end.  Even an Elijah, that chief of
the prophets, had to go up and stand before his Master.  But we, beloved,
have a kingdom which cannot be moved, and a kingly Master who cannot die.
He, “the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever, is able to keep us
from falling.  He shall preserve us blameless, and present us faultless
before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

                                * * * * *

Earth and heaven are not very far apart.  When we stand at the foot of
the ladder with the ascending and descending angels, when we sit at the
feet of Jesus, some down here, some up there, but _all_, all for ever at
His feet, and all, all for ever in His hand, and every one of us
receiving of His words—when this is so, beloved, heaven draws very near
to earth, and earth to heaven; and when the gate opens to receive some
loved one in, we can almost hear the music and the singing.  There is
just this difference and distinction: here on earth we are labouring to
enter into rest; there they are resting in the midst of joyful labour,
being so close to their King.  _We_ might be closer than we are, and thus
have more “days of heaven upon earth.”

                                * * * * *

And now, feeling sure on this occasion of your forbearance and sympathy,
I add a few things which may interest you concerning our earthly master,
father, teacher, friend, taken from our head to-day by the Lord.

His knowledge of Scripture was wonderful, was it not? and his memory for
quotation—not the words only, but chapter and verse—up to the very last,
after ten years of total blindness.

His knowledge too of that piece of intricate and, alas! disordered
mechanism, the human heart, was remarkable.  How his sermons turned us
inside out, so to speak, but all loving, wise, and persuasive, leading us
to Christ and to comfort.

The wondrous mixture in his disposition and character of thorough
humanity and great spirituality—of manliness, vigour and cheerfulness,
with a very tender, sympathising heart!  How he could turn at once, and
without causing any jar to our feelings, or any sense of discrepancy in
his action, from the brightest play of mirth and humour to fervent,
pleading prayer.  How _real_ and transparent he was, both as a man and a
Christian!

There is another thing I desire to mention.  “When the messengers of John
were departed, Jesus began to speak unto the people concerning John: What
went ye out into the wilderness to see, a reed shaken with the wind? . . .
a man clothed in soft raiment? . . . a prophet?”  You remember that
_that_, on Sunday week, was the text your dear pastor last preached from;
and what reply can we give to that question as regards himself?  Was he a
fickle, changeable man, “a reed shaken with the wind”?  Was he a man
living delicately, surrounding himself with luxury, and not rather a man
given to self-denial, rising very early in the morning, winter and
summer, and depriving himself of comforts, almost of necessaries, for the
sake of his beloved poor?

“But what went ye out for to see, a prophet?”  Yea, and a true prophet
concerning the things of God.  If you know not now, the day is coming
when “ye _shall_ know that there has been a prophet among you.”  For
myself, I desire this once publicly to testify that I have never heard a
sermon from his lips (and I have heard many) or spent half-an-hour in his
company (and I have spent many), without gaining conscious benefit to my
soul.

Can any of you who heard it, forget that last sermon of his on Sunday
week?  Did you mark the look of holy joy in his dear face, as he
portrayed the eager readiness of the Baptist for martyrdom, a martyrdom
which would solve his last doubt, deliver him from his last sin, free him
from his last infirmity, and place before his opened eyes the face of the
King?  Yes, on Wednesday morning _his_ eyes looked upon Jesus, who for
long years _had_ looked on no man.  “He has received his sight, and
followed Jesus in the way.”

But are you aware that he had proposed to return to the subject of John
the Baptist? that very shortly before his translation (for it was
translation rather than death), that verse was constantly in his
thoughts: “John did no miracle, but all things that John spake of this
man were true” (John x. 41).  Well, all I can say is of our beloved
friend and pastor, if _he_ did no miracle, _God_ did many miracles by
him.  Who shall reckon up the number of precious souls saved, cheered,
taught, strengthened, made meet for the Master’s use by means of him who
now rests from his labours, but whose works _do_, yea, and _shall_ follow
him.  One thing, I believe, eternity will show—not that your minister was
a perfect minister or a perfect man; he had his faults, his mistakes, his
sins—but this is what eternity will show, and oh! the weight of
responsibility it lays on _all_ of us: “_The things which Francis Storr
spake of Jesus Christ were true_.”

Yet once more.  With special prayer and consideration, he drew up for
this winter a Course of Wednesday Evening Lectures.  Two only, out of the
twelve, were delivered.  The subject of the third was announced, as
usual, in church for the following Wednesday, but the address was not
given.  And what _was_ the subject?  “By it, he being dead, yet
speaketh;” “and when he had said this, he fell asleep.”  What does that
word _it_ refer to—“by it, he being dead, yet speaketh”?  Abel’s
sacrifice, type of Christ’s, which Abel looked at and God accepted.  To
the worth of that atoning sacrifice Abel testified, your pastor
testified, in life, unto death, and for ever.  The lecture was not
delivered.  His death, not his living voice, was to declare it, for we
had the text, and the text only, “and when he had said this, he fell
asleep.”

Do you remember, brethren, the last time we all met—he, and you, and I,
for prayer and praise and conference at the opening of the year, in that
well-loved school-room—do you remember that the speaker was led to quote
these lines?—

    “The great and terrible wilderness of famine and of drought
    Lies in the shadow behind me, for the Lord hath brought me out;
    The great and terrible river, though shrouded still from view,
    Lies in the shadow before me, but the Lord will bring me through.”

Now he has reached that river, and crossed it, Christ and he—the Master
and his beloved disciple.  “They two went on;” “they two went over.”

    “So they passed over quickly towards the goal,
    But the wistful, loving gaze of the parting soul
    Grew only more rapt and joyful as he held his Master’s hand;
    Methinks or ever he was aware, they were come to the Holy Land.”

And so his favourite oft-repeated text, “Or ever I was aware, my soul
made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib” (Song Sol. vi. 12), was
fulfilled.  Literally, the words are, “Or ever I was aware, my soul set
me on the chariots of my willing people.”  Ah! these were “the chariots
of Israel and the horsemen thereof,” which raised his spirits and lifted
him heavenward, while he was still down here, _his people_ “_made willing
in the day of God’s power_.”  Beloved, we may raise him higher yet! we
may gladden his heart still! we may cause his reward to grow exceedingly,
we may yet give him souls for his hire, seals to his ministry!  Shall we
not hear him to-day, dead yet speaking, beseeching us on this his first
Sabbath in heaven, to carry on and carry out the work God permitted him
to do among us?  “If there is therefore any comfort in Christ, if any
consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender
mercies and compassions, _fulfil ye my joy_!” (Phil. ii. 1, R. V.).

That we may do it, let us give earnest heed to the prayer of our master’s
Christ, for the answer is not doubtful: “While I was with them in the
world, I kept them in Thy name. . . . and now come I to Thee, and these
things I speak. . . . _that they might have my joy fulfilled in
themselves_,” (John xvii. 12, 13).



III.
NOTES OF THE LAST SERMON
PREACHED BY
REV. F. STORR, M.A.,
_February_ 12, 1888.


    Matthew xi. 9, 10: “_But what went ye out for to see_?  _A prophet_?
    _Yea_, _I say unto you_, _and more than a prophet_.  _For this is he
    of whom it is written_, _Behold_, _I send my messenger before thy
    face_, _which shall prepare thy way before thee_.”

I PROPOSE to you for your own reading and meditation and self-examination
during the season of Lent the life and history of John the Baptist.  Seek
out all the special passages which allude to him, and pass them not
lightly over, and see and mark the great reformer, still more the great
forerunner.  That which may be done at any time is too often not done at
all; thus our Church has wisely set before us certain seasons for
meditation on certain subjects.

                                * * * * *

Some do not approve of services in unconsecrated buildings.  I confess it
seems to me that such are not very assiduous in their attendance in
consecrated buildings!  No, we want a heart for these services; we want
the Holy Spirit to make us know that we are dying creatures—that we must
all stand before the Judgment-seat of Christ.  “It is high time to awake
out of sleep” (Rom. xiii. 11).

Glance at the leading features of John’s life:—

1.  Self-discipline.

2.  The Witness.

3.  The closing scene of his life.

1.  If you notice particularly Matt, iii., Luke i., John iii. (towards
the end of the chapter), Luke iii., Mark vi., you will have before you
the comprehensive features of John the Baptist’s life.  Let me direct you
to his credentials.  This is the man who was prophesied of seven
centuries before the coming of the Lord, not in Isaiah xl. only, but in
Malachi iv. 5.  He went into the wilderness, the less inhabited country.
He probably had tried Jerusalem; it is not unlikely that he had consorted
with the learned Jews.  He found little encouragement, it may be.  Then
he cast himself on the Lord—HE never disappoints.  We shall ever and anon
(God grant always) cast ourselves on Him—there is no disappointment
there.  The world disappoints, friends disappoint, there is very much
disappointment in our own hearts.  God never disappoints.

Men would consider it a great waste of time, those three years in the
desert—so much for him to do, so much misery and wickedness and sin.
There he was in the desert, assuredly not doing nothing for men, but in
the wilderness, holding little intercourse with men.  Rely upon it, the
greatest things done for God are done in secret.  Religion does not come
forth full-blown.  God sows the seed; the roots strike downward, unseen.
Self-examination, self-discipline, communion with God,—these fit men for
great enterprises, for conflict in daily life, and for the trustful and
rejoicing walk with God.  Self-examination—very mild and charitable
towards others, very strict and exacting towards ourselves.  Converse
with God: there is no one you can tell everything to, but God.  Away with
the idea of confession to our fellow-man—casting our burden upon the
priest, as though he could take it to God for us.  That is not the way of
the saints of God.  No, we want much converse with God, much searching of
His Word, and what that Word saith to us individually, whenever we hear
His voice speaking to us, do it.  George Müller, at the age of twenty,
made this Book “the man of his counsels.”  Müller’s life is one of the
most wonderful miracles of Providence that ever was performed; that man,
without ever asking for one farthing from anyone, committed his way to
the Lord, walked with God, and in fifty years a million of money has
passed through his hands; I forget how many orphans he has clothed and
fed.  It is just as much a miracle as when the ravens fed Elijah, brought
him bread and flesh every morning and evening.

Now, the season of Lent reminds us of self-examination, of self-judgment;
and surely if self-judgment, it will be self-condemnation.  It bids us
take everything to God: thus shall we be blessed in the Lord, and in the
power of the Holy Ghost we shall have His peace pervading our hearts.
Now let us proceed to—

2.  The Witness.

It was in “the fulness of time” that our Lord came.  They had often been
asking, Where are the signs of His coming?  It is of no use for man’s
clock to strike before God’s.  If I may say so with reverence, God’s
clock struck, and then John the Baptist came—six months before the Lord.
Long predicted and anticipated, at length he came.  He was of good
parentage.  There is a great deal in being of good parentage.  “The seed
of the blessed of the Lord” (Isa. lxv. 23).  The real thing—that is what
we want; not gilding or veneer, but the good heart of oak.  “They were
both righteous before God,” etc. (Luke i. 6).  That is the good
parentage.  Children are apt to follow parents really walking “in the
ways of the Lord.”

His witness was uncompromising.  It was no time for mincing words.  “The
axe is laid unto the root of the tree,” etc. (Matt. iii. 10).  He went
straight to the mark.

His witness was general.  Observe this, when you hear men say, “The
Gospel is not to be preached to all; it is only for the elect.”  God has
His elect; God forbid that we should deny it.  But how shall we know
them?

It was a good answer of John Newton’s (too familiar it may have been)
when one was finding fault with him for preaching the Gospel to all men,
he said, “You chalk the elect, and then I will preach to them apart.”
Though the words are too familiar, they strike the right note.  John
preached the Gospel to all, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at
hand.”  Mark you, the same word his blessed Master preached (Matt. iv.
17).  “Repent ye,”—change your mind; go straight to Christ, to God.
Cease to do evil by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Though the Gospel has been preached from this place forty to fifty years,
there are those who sit there, year after year, just as they were.  How
will they be found in the Day of the Lord?

As his witness was wholly uncompromising and general, so was it
_practical_.  He went direct to the mark.  The soldiers, the publicans,
the people, all came to him; even the Pharisees stripped off, or rather
covered over, their phylacteries.  The Spirit of the Living God to
convince of sin and quicken the conscience of each sinner—that is what we
want.  Unless we speak in the Holy Ghost and in power, we might as well,
and far better, never speak at all.

The soldiers were coming into very great power at that time; he told
them, “Do no violence,” etc., “and be content with your wages.”  Then the
tax-gatherers (who were utterly different from ours) had great
opportunities of over-reaching; and some did not fail to take advantage
of the power.  Sad advantage for them.  He told them, “Exact no more than
that which is appointed you.”  “He that hath two garments, let him impart
to him that hath none.”  If you can do good to any one, do it; if you
have small means, use them; if you have great, use them.  John used very
plain language, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from
the wrath to come?”  Yes, beloved, John could hardly have moved in polite
society, for he ventured to speak of hell, of “the unquenchable fire,” of
“the wrath to come.”  He told them to _flee_, not to creep, not to walk,
“from the wrath to come.”  He urged—his Master rather urged—“Repent ye,”
etc.  He spoke to the conscience.  Oh, that the Lord in my few remaining
days, if any more days are given me, oh, that He would make my words more
plain.  I have striven to be plain, brethren.

John was the uncompromising, the faithful, the affectionate witness.  We
want a practical religion.  If not practical, we had better throw it
behind our backs; it will not profit us in the last day.  What is the use
of our religion if it is not to influence our life, if it is not to make
you, dear children, better children, more obedient children, keeping your
tongues from evil words, making you kind and gentle, your father’s joy
and your mother’s darling, because they can trust you?  As a dear little
grandchild of mine said, “I don’t know what papa would do without me; I’m
his right hand, he says,” and she added, “Oh, I don’t know what I should
do without him!”  Yes, we want practical religion.  If we are not
honest-hearted, faithful to our trust, if we do not to others as we would
they should do to us, when we get to the gate of heaven and begin _then_
to look for our religion, to hunt for our certificate, it will not be
found.  The man without the wedding garment was speechless.

I remember an account of a ship that struck on rocks; they rose sheer and
precipitous—not a chance of escape.  All at once a ladder was let down
from the top of the rock, and the poor sailors, who had given up hope,
escaped all safe to land.

You are on the edge of the sea of eternity.  The tide is coming in, the
waves rolling up one after another; but there is a Rock.  You must reach
it, you must cling to it.  How are you going to do it?  You are not
flies, children, that you can walk up a perpendicular wall.  We have got
something far more difficult to do—to live to God, to glorify God in our
daily walk and conversation.  In other words, you want “a ladder set up”
(Gen. xxviii. 12).

What is that Ladder?  John the Baptist preached holiness, practice.  He
was a practical man, because he did not teach men to make bricks without
straw—he pointed them to Christ.  Standing by the river Jordan, and
seeing Jesus coming, he directed all the people to Him with the words,
“Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”  That
was his ladder.  There is no godliness without Christ: “Without Me ye can
do nothing.”  The man who seeks safety on any other raft—lifeboat he may
call it—is venturing on the ocean of Eternity in an unseaworthy craft.
We must rest simply and wholly on Him, the Lamb of God, the Alpha and
Omega—trust and know and love, as well as serve, the Lord Jesus.  Now,
time fails me, brethren, and I want very much to speak to you about the
closing scene.  I must do so as briefly as I can.

3.  The closing scene of his life.

A great deal is made of the closing scene of a man’s life.  Take, for
instance, one who has lived to himself all through life; he is on his
death-bed, we strain our ears to hear if we can, any word to give a
glimmer of hope.  He may have lived as he listed, and then at the close
of life, when he is at the last gasp, and Death has him in his grip,
friends lean over the pillow and question, “Are you trusting in Christ?”
and if the whispered answer should be “Yes,” they are satisfied!  Poor
dying man! what else is left for him to do?  Is such an act, at such a
moment, real faith?  If a house is on fire, and a man leaps from the
second storey window, you do not say he is a good leaper.  What else
could he do?  I do not mean to say that there may not be such a thing as
a death-bed repentance, but a death-bed repentance can scarcely be called
satisfactory.  Tell me what a man’s _life_ has been—has it been spent in
Christ’s service and to the glory of God?—and I care not _that_ whether
he has any last words on his death-bed or not.

Look at John the Baptist’s end.  You do not find the account of many
deathbeds in Scripture—the fact is, the great thing is how a man lives.
Is Christ his life?  Is holiness the result?  Then will he lift up his
head in joy whether in life or death.

Look at that last scene in the life of John the Baptist.  He had had a
great and strong struggle.  Read his life, my children.  You like
story-books; you will find this Book far more entertaining than you think
for, as, for example, the story of the three children in the fire, Daniel
in the lion’s den, and the story of the earthquake and shipwreck as told
in the life of St. Paul.  John was in prison, imprisoned by the king—(I
pass over his uncompromising witness against sin).  It is difficult to
speak before the great; it is comparatively an easy thing for me to stand
up here and say, My fellow sinner, thou art going to hell!  “Come with us
and we will do thee good.”

                                * * * * *

A cloud had come over John the Baptist’s mind; the faith which had
hitherto borne him up, is now sharply exercised.  He sent his disciples
to Jesus.  I do not think that he had the disciples’ good _only_ in view.
Our blessed Lord “in that same hour cured many,” etc.  (Luke vii. 21,
22), and answered them, “Go your way,” etc. (ver. 22); and He added this
(Oh, I thank God for that addition), “And blessed is he whosoever shall
not be offended in me.”  Have you ever had prayers so answered—I hope you
have had many—that you almost, as they say, leapt out of your skin, you
have been so astounded?  You will have many more if you “come boldly to
the Throne of Grace.”  I believe then, when the Lord sent this message to
His faithful servant, He answered the very want and questioning of his
heart, and that word satisfied the yearning of his heart.  John the
Baptist must have said, “Why, He knows my very thoughts, my very doubts,
my failings, my fears!”  May I not thus interpret?  I do not add to the
Word of God.

All clouds disappeared; the Sun of Righteousness shines out with healing
in His wings.  By-and-by there is the glimmer of a light, the sound of
the key in the lock.  “Ah! my lord” (so the jailor would probably have
called the prophet), “I bring you heavy tidings—the king has sent his
executioner.”  “Heavy tidings?  Nay, joyous tidings! blessed tidings!
glorious tidings!  Lord Jesus, I thank Thee!  Where is he?  Do not keep
me one moment from heaven and glory!”  Down he laid his head on the block
joyfully, and another saint was in glory!  Oh, my brethren, think what
that will be—“For ever with the Lord”!

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

           C. F. HODGSON AND SON, PRINTERS, GOUGH SQUARE, E.C.



FOOTNOTES.


{3} Some printers’ errors have been corrected, and a few sentences
omitted by the Editor re-inserted.





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