THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF ST. JAMES.
This is supposed to have been written by James the son of
Alpheus the brother (or kinsman) of our Lord. It is called a
General Epistle, because written not to a particular person or
church, but to all the converted Israelites. Herein the
apostle reproves that antinomian spirit, which had even then
infected many, who had perverted the glorious doctrine of
justification by faith into an occasion of licentiousness.
He likewise comforts the true believers under their sufferings,
and reminds them of the judgments that were approaching.
It has three parts:-
I. The inscription,...................................... C. i. 1
II. The exhortation,
1. To patience, enduring outward, conquering inward,
2. Considering the goodness of God,..................... 16-18
to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath
And these three are,
1. Proposed,........................................ 19-21
2. Treated of at large.
a. Let hearing be joined with practice,........... 22-26
Particularly with bridling the tongue,............ 26
With mercy and purity,............................ 27
Without respect of persons,.............. C. ii. 1-13
And so faith universally with works,........... 14-26
b. Let the speech be modest,............... C. iii. 1-12
c. Let anger, with all the other passions, be
restrained,.......................... 13-C. iv. 1-17
3. To patience again.
a. Confirmed by the coming of the judge, in which
The calamity of the wicked,..................... v. 1-6
The deliverance of the righteous,................. 7-12
b. Nourished by prayer,............................. 13-18
III. The conclusion,....................................... 19,20
1. A servant of Jesus Christ-Whose name the apostle mentions
but once more in the whole epistle, # James 2:1. And not at all
in his whole discourse, # Acts 15:14, &c.; or # Acts 21:20-25.
It might have seemed, if he mentioned him often, that he did it
out of vanity, as being the brother of the Lord. To the twelve
tribes-Of Israel; that is, those of them that believe.
Which are scattered abroad-In various countries. Ten of the
tribes were scattered ever since the reign of Hosea; and great
part of the rest were now dispersed through the Roman empire:
as was foretold, # Deut 28:25, &c.30:4.
Greeting-That is, all blessings, temporal and eternal.
Verse 2. My brethren, count it all joy-Which is the highest
degree of patience, and contains all the rest. When ye fall
into divers temptations-That is, trials.
Verse 4. Let patience have its perfect work-Give it full scope,
under whatever trials befal you. That ye may be perfect and
entire-Adorned with every Christian grace. And wanting
nothing-Which God requires in you.
Verse 5. If any want-The connexion between the first and
following verses, both here and in the fourth chapter, will be
easily discerned by him who reads them, while he is suffering
wrongfully. He will then readily perceive, why the apostle
mentions all those various affections of the mind. Wisdom-To
understand, whence and why temptations come, and how they are
to be improved. Patience is in every pious man already. Let
him exercise this, and ask for wisdom. The sum of wisdom, both
in the temptation of poverty and of riches, is described in the
ninth and tenth verses. Who giveth to all-That ask aright.
And upbraideth not-Either with their past wickedness, or
Verse 6. But let him ask in faith-A firm confidence in God.
St. James also both begins and ends with faith, # James 5:15;
the hinderances of which he removes in the middle part of his
epistle. He that doubteth is like a wave of the sea-Yea,
such are all who have not asked and obtained wisdom. Driven
with the wind-From without. And tossed-From within, by his
Verse 8. A doubleminded man-Who has, as it were, two souls;
whose heart is not simply given up to God. Is unstable-Being
without the true wisdom; perpetually disagrees both with
himself and others, # James 3:16.
Verse 9. Let the brother-St James does not give this
appellation to the rich. Of low degree-Poor and tempted.
Rejoice-The most effectual remedy against doublemindedness. In
that he is exalted-To be a child of God, and an heir of glory.
Verse 10. But the rich, in that he is made low-Is humbled by a
deep sense of his true condition. Because as the flower
-Beautiful, but transient. He shall pass away-Into eternity.
Verse 11. For the sun arose and withered the grass-There is an
unspeakable beauty and elegance, both in the comparison itself,
and in the very manner of expressing it, intimating both the
certainty and the suddenness of the event. So shall the rich
fade away in his ways-In the midst of his various pleasures and
Verse 12. Happy is the man that endureth temptation-Trials of
various kinds. He shall receive the crown-That fadeth not away.
Which the Lord hath promised to them that love him-And his
enduring proves his love. For it is love only that "endureth
Verse 13. But let no man who is tempted-To sin. Say, I am
tempted of God-God thus tempteth no man.
Verse 14. Every man is tempted, when-In the beginning of the
temptation. He is drawn away-Drawn out of God, his strong
refuge. By his own desire-We are therefore to look for the
cause of every sin, in, not out of ourselves. Even the
injections of the devil cannot hurt before we make them our own.
And every one has desires arising from his own constitution,
tempers, habits, and way of life. And enticed-In the progress
of the temptation, catching at the bait: so the original word
Verse 15. Then desire having conceived-By our own will joining
therewith. Bringeth forth actual sin-It doth not follow that
the desire itself is not sin. He that begets a man is himself
a man. And sin being perfected-Grown up to maturity, which it
quickly does. Bringeth forth death-Sin is born big with death.
Verse 16. Do not err-It is a grievous error to ascribe the evil
and not the good which we receive to God.
Verse 17. No evil, but every good gift-Whatever tends to
holiness. And every perfect gift-Whatever tends to glory.
Descendeth from the Father of lights-The appellation of Father
is here used with peculiar propriety. It follows, "he begat
us." He is the Father of all light, material or spiritual,
in the kingdom of grace and of glory. With whom is no
variableness-No change in his understanding. Or shadow of
turning-in his will. He infallibly discerns all good and evil;
and invariably loves one, and hates the other. There is, in
both the Greek words, a metaphor taken from the stars,
particularly proper where the Father of lights is mentioned.
Both are applicable to any celestial body, which has a daily
vicissitude of day and night, and sometimes longer days,
sometimes longer nights. In God is nothing of this kind.
He is mere light. If there Is any such vicissitude, it is
in ourselves, not in him.
Verse 18. Of his own will-Most loving, most free, most pure,
just opposite to our evil desire, # Jas 1:15.
Begat he us-Who believe. By the word of truth-The true word,
emphatically so termed; the gospel. That we might be a kind of
first-fruits of his creatures-Christians are the chief and most
excellent of his visible creatures; and sanctify the rest. Yet
he says, A kind of-For Christ alone is absolutely the first-
Verse 19. Let every man be swift to hear-This is treated
of from # Jas 1:21 to the end of the next chapter.
Slow to speak-Which is treated of in he third chapter.
Slow to wrath-Neither murmuring at God, nor angry at his
neighbour. This is treated of in the third, and throughout
the fourth and fifth chapters.
Verse 20. The righteousness of God here includes all duties
prescribed by him, and pleasing to him.
Verse 21. Therefore laying aside-As a dirty garment. All the
filthiness and superfluity of wickedness-For however specious
or necessary it may appear to worldly wisdom, all wickedness
is both vile, hateful, contemptible, and really superfluous.
Every reasonable end may be effectually answered without any
kind or degree of it. Lay this, every known sin, aside, or all
your hearing is vain. With meekness-Constant evenness and
serenity of mind. Receive-Into your ears, your heart, your
life. The word-Of the gospel. Ingrafted-In believers, by
regeneration, # Jas 1:18 and by habit, # Heb 5:14.
Which is able to save your souls-The hope of salvation
Verse 23. Beholding his face in a glass-How exactly does the
scripture glass show a man the face of his soul!
Verse 24. He beheld himself, and went away-To other business.
And forgot-But such forgetting does not excuse.
Verse 25. But he that looketh diligently-Not with a transient
glance, but bending down, fixing his eyes, and searching all
to the bottom. Into the perfect law-Of love as established by
faith. St. James here guards us against misunderstanding what
St. Paul says concerning the "yoke and bondage of the law."
He who keeps the law of love is free, # John 8:31, &c.
He that does not, is not free, but a slave to sin, and a
criminal before God, # James 2:10.
And continueth therein-Not like him who forgot it, and went
away. This man-There is a peculiar force in the repetition
of the word. Shall be happy-Not barely in hearing, but doing
the will of God.
Verse 26. If any one be ever so religious-Exact in the outward
offices of religion. And bridleth not his tongue-From
backbiting, talebearing, evilspeaking, he only deceiveth
his own heart, if he fancies he has any true religion at all.
Verse 27. The only true religion in the sight of God, is this,
to visit-With counsel, comfort, and relief. The fatherless
and widows-Those who need it most. In their affliction-In
their most helpless and hopeless state. And to keep himself
unspotted from the world-From the maxims, tempers, and customs
of it. But this cannot be done, till we have given our hearts
to God, and love our neighbour as ourselves.
Verse 1. My brethren-The equality of Christians, intimated by
this name, is the ground of the admonition. Hold not the faith
of our common Lord, the Lord of glory-Of which glory all who
believe in him partake. With respect of persons-That is, honour
none merely for being rich; despise none merely for being poor.
Verse 2. With gold rings-Which were not then so common as now.
Verse 3. Ye look upon him-With respect.
Verse 4. Ye distinguish not-To which the most respect is due,
to the poor or to the rich. But are become evil-reasoning
judges-You reason ill, and so judge wrong: for fine apparel
is no proof of worth in him that wears it.
Verse 5. Hearken-As if he had said, Stay, consider, ye that
judge thus. Does not the presumption lie rather in favour of
the poor man? Hath not God chosen the poor-That is, are not
they whom God hath chosen, generally speaking, poor in this
world? who yet are rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom
-Consequently, the most honourable of men: and those whom God
so highly honours, ought not ye to honour likewise?
Verse 6. Do not the rich often oppress you-By open violence;
often drag you-Under colour of law.
Verse 7. Do not they blaspheme that worthy name-Of God and of
Christ. The apostle speaks chiefly of rich heathens: but are
Christians, so called, a whit behind them?
Verse 8. If ye fulfil the royal law-The supreme law of the
great King which is love; and that to every man, poor as well
as rich, ye do well.
# Lev 19:18.
Verse 9. Being convicted-By that very law.
# Exod 23:3.
V. 10. Whosoever keepeth the whole law, except in one point, he is
guilty of all-Is as liable to condemnation as if he had offended in every
Verse 11. For it is the same authority which establishes
Verse 12. So speak and act-In all things. As they that shall be
judged-Without respect of persons. By the law of liberty-The
gospel; the law of universal love, which alone is perfect freedom.
For their transgressions of this, both in word and deed, the
wicked shall be condemned; and according to their works, done in
obedience to this, the righteous will be rewarded.
Verse 13. Judgment without mercy shall be to him-In that day.
Who hath showed no mercy-To his poor brethren. But the mercy
of God to believers, answering to that which they have shown,
will then glory over judgment.
Verse 14. From # James 1:22, the apostle has been enforcing
Christian practice. He now applies to those who neglect this,
under the pretence of faith. St. Paul had taught that "a man
is justified by faith without the works of the law." This some
began already to wrest to their own destruction. Wherefore St.
James, purposely repeating (# Jas 2:21,23,25) the same phrases,
testimonies, and examples, which St. Paul had used, # Rom 4:3,
# Heb 11:17,31, refutes not the doctrine of St. Paul, but the
error of those who abused it. There is, therefore, no
contradiction between the apostles: they both delivered the
truth of God, but in a different manner, as having to do with
different kinds of men. On another occasion St. James himself
pleaded the cause of faith, # Acts 15:13-21; and St. Paul
himself strenuously pleads for works, particularly in his latter
epistles. This verse is a summary of what follows.
What profiteth it? is enlarged on,
# Jas 2:15-17;
though a man say,
# Jas 2:18,19
can that faith save him?
# Jas 2:20.
It is not, though he have faith; but, though he say he have
faith. Here, therefore, true, living faith is meant: but
in other parts of the argument the apostle speaks of a dead,
imaginary faith. He does not, therefore, teach that true faith
can, but that it cannot, subsist without works: nor does he
oppose faith to works; but that empty name of faith, to real
faith working by love. Can that faith "which is without works"
save him? No more than it can profit his neighbour.
Verse 17. So likewise that faith which hath not works is a mere
dead, empty notion; of no more profit to him that hath it, than
the bidding the naked be clothed is to him.
Verse 18. But one-Who judges better. Will say-To such a vain
talker. Show me, if thou canst, thy faith without thy works.
Verse 19. Thou believest there is one God-I allow this: but
this proves only that thou hast the same faith with the devils.
Nay, they not only believe, but tremble-At the dreadful
expectation of eternal torments. So far is that faith from
either justifying or saving them that have it.
Verse 20. But art than willing to know-Indeed thou art not:
thou wouldest fain be ignorant of it. O empty man-Empty of
all goodness. That the faith which is without works is dead
-And so is not properly faith, as a dead carcase is not a man.
Verse 21. Was not Abraham justified by works-St. Paul says he
was justified by faith, # Rom 4:2, &c.: yet St. James does not
contradict him; for he does not speak of the same justification.
St. Paul speaks of that which Abraham received many years before
Isaac was born, # Gen 15:6. St. James, of that which he did not
receive till he had offered up Isaac on the altar. He was
justified, therefore, in St. Paul's sense, (that is, accounted
righteous,) by faith, antecedent to his works. He was justified
in St. James's sense, (that is, made righteous,) by works,
consequent to his faith. So that St. James's justification by
works is the fruit of St Paul's justification by faith.
Verse 22. Thou seest that faith-For by faith Abraham
offered him, # Heb 11:17.
Wrought together with his works-Therefore faith has one
energy and operation; works, another: and the energy and
operation of faith are before works, and together with them.
Works do not give life to faith, but faith begets works, and
then is perfected by them. And by works was faith made perfect
-Here St. James fixes the sense wherein he uses the word
justified; so that no shadow of contradiction remains between
his assertion and St. Paul's. Abraham returned from that
sacrifice perfected in faith, and far higher in the favour of
God. Faith hath not its being from works, (for it is before
them,) but its perfection. That vigour of faith which begets
works is then excited and increased thereby, as the natural
heat of the body begets motion, whereby itself is then excited
and increased. See # 1John 3:22.
Verse 23. And the scripture-Which was afterwards written.
Was hereby eminently fulfilled, Abraham believed God, and it
was imputed to him for righteousness-This was twice fulfilled,
-when Abraham first believed, and when he offered up Isaac.
St. Paul speaks of the former fulfilling; St. James, of the
latter. And he was called the Friend of God-Both by his
posterity, # 2Chron 20:7; and by God himself, # Isa 41:8 so
pleasing to God were the works be wrought in faith. # Gen 15:6
Verse 24. Ye see then that a man is justified by works, and not
by faith only-St. Paul, on the other band, declares, "A man is
justified by faith," and not by works, # Rom 3:28. And yet
there is no contradiction between the apostles: because,
1. They do not speak of the same faith: St. Paul speaking of
living faith; St. James here, of dead faith.
2. They do not speak of the same works: St. Paul speaking of works
antecedent to faith; St. James, of works subsequent to it.
Verse 25. After Abraham, the father of the Jews, the apostle
cites Rahab, a woman, and a sinner of the gentiles; to show,
that in every nation and sex true faith produces works, and is
perfected by them; that is, by the grace of God working in the
believer, while he is showing his faith by his works.
Verse 1. Be not many teachers-Let no more of you take this upon
you than God thrusts out; seeing it is so hard not to offend in
speaking much. Knowing that we-That all who thrust themselves
into the office. Shall receive greater condemnation-For more
offences. St. James here, as in several of the following verses,
by a common figure of speech, includes himself: we shall receive,
-we offend,-we put bits,-we curse-None of which, as common
sense shows, are to be interpreted either of him or of the
Verse 2. The same is able to bridle the whole body-That is,
the whole man. And doubtless some are able to do this, and
so are in this sense perfect.
Verse 3. We-That is, men.
Verse 5. Boasteth great things-Hath great influence.
Verse 6. A world of iniquity-Containing an immense quantity of
all manner of wickedness. It defileth-As fire by its smoke.
The whole body-The whole man. And setteth on fire the course
of nature-All the passions, every wheel of his soul.
Verse 7. Every kind-The expression perhaps is not to be taken
strictly. Reptiles-That is, creeping things.
Verse 8. But no man can tame the tongue-Of another;
no, nor his own, without peculiar help from God.
Verse 9. Men made after the likeness of God-Indeed we have
now lost this likeness; yet there remains from thence an
indelible nobleness, which we ought to reverence both in
ourselves and others.
Verse 13. Let him show his wisdom as well as his faith
by his works; not by words only.
Verse 14. If ye have bitter zeal-True Christian zeal is
only the flame of love. Even in your hearts-Though it
went no farther. Do not lie against the truth-As if
such zeal could consist with heavenly wisdom.
Verse 15. This wisdom-Which is consistent with such zeal.
Is earthly-Not heavenly; not from the Father of Lights.
Animal-Not spiritual; not from the Spirit of God.
Devilish-Not the gift of Christ, but such as Satan
breathes into the soul.
Verse 17. But the wisdom from above is first pure-From all
that is earthly, natural, devilish. Then peaceable-True
peace attending purity, it is quiet, inoffensive. Gentle-Soft,
mild, yielding, not rigid. Easy to he entreated-To be persuaded,
or convinced; not stubborn, sour, or morose. Full of good
fruits-Both in the heart and in the life, two of which are
immediately specified. Without partiality-Loving all, without
respect of persons; embracing all good things, rejecting all
evil. And without dissimulation-Frank, open.
Verse 18. And the principle productive of this righteousness is
sown, like good seed, in the peace of a believer's mind, and
brings forth a plentiful harvest of happiness, (which is the
proper fruit of righteousness,) for them that make peace-That
labour to promote this pure and holy peace among all men.
Verse 1. From whence come wars and fightings-Quarrels and wars
among you, quite opposite to this peace? Is it not from your
pleasures-Your desires of earthly pleasures. Which war-Against
your souls. In your members-Here is the first seat of the war.
Hence proceeds the war of man with man, king with king, nation
Verse 2. Ye kill-In your heart, for "he that hateth his
brother is a murderer." Ye fight and war-That is, furiously
strive and contend. Ye ask not-And no marvel; for a man full
of evil desire, of envy or hatred, cannot pray.
Verse 3. But if ye do ask, ye receive not, because ye ask
amiss-That is, from a wrong motive.
Verse 4. Ye adulterers and adulteresses-Who have broken your
faith with God, your rightful spouse. Know ye not that the
friendship or love of the world-The desire of the flesh, the
desire of the eye, and the pride of life, or courting the
favour of worldly men, is enmity against God? Whosoever
desireth to be a friend of the world-Whosoever seeks either
the happiness or favour of it, does thereby constitute himself
an enemy of God; and can he expect to obtain anything of him?
Verse 5. Do you think that the scripture saith in vain-Without
good ground. St. James seems to refer to many, not any one
particular scripture. The spirit of love that dwelleth in all
believers lusteth against envy-
# Gal 5:17; is directly opposite to all those unloving tempers
which necessarily flow from the friendship of the world.
Verse 6. But he giveth greater grace-To all who shun those
tempers. Therefore it-The scripture. Saith, God resisteth the
proud-And pride is the great root of all unkind affections.
# Prov 3:34
Verse 7. Therefore by humbly submitting yourselves to God,
resist the devil-The father of pride and envy.
8. Then draw nigh to God in prayer, and he will draw nigh unto
you, will hear you; which that nothing may hinder, cleanse your
hands-Cease from doing evil. And purify your hearts-From all
spiritual adultery. Be no more double minded, vainly
endeavouring to serve both God and mammon.
Verse 9. Be afflicted-For your past unfaithfulness to God.
Verse 11. Speak not evil one of another-This is a grand
hinderance of peace. O who is sufficiently aware of it!
He that speaketh evil of another does in effect speak evil
of the law, which so strongly prohibits it. Thou art not a
doer of the law, but a judge-Of it; thou settest thyself
above, and as it were condemnest, it.
Verse 12. There is one lawgiver that is able-To execute the
sentence he denounces. But who art thou-A poor, weak, dying
Verse 13. Come now, ye that say-As peremptorily as if your
life were in your own hands.
Verse 15. Instead of your saying-That is, whereas ye ought
Verse 17. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth
it not-That knows what is right, and does not practise it.
To him it is sin-This knowledge does not prevent, but
increase, his condemnation.
Verse 1. Come now, ye rich-The apostle does not speak this so
much for the sake of the rich themselves, as of the poor
children of God, who were then groaning under their cruel
oppression. Weep and howl for your miseries which are coming
upon you-Quickly and unexpectedly. This was written not long
before the siege of Jerusalem; during which, as well as after
it, huge calamities came on the Jewish nation, not only in
Judea, but through distant countries. And as these were an
awful prelude of that wrath which was to fall upon them in
the world to come, so this may likewise refer to the final
vengeance which will then be executed on the impenitent.
Verse 2. The riches of the ancients consisted much in large
stores of corn, and of costly apparel.
Verse 3. The canker of them-Your perishing stores and motheaten
garments. Will be a testimony against you-Of your having buried
those talents in the earth, instead of improving them according
to your Lord's will. And will eat your flesh as fire-Will
occasion you as great torment as if fire were consuming your
flesh. Ye have laid up treasure in the last days-When it is
too late; when you have no time to enjoy them.
Verse 4. The hire of your labourers crieth-Those sins chiefly
cry to God concerning which human laws are silent. Such are
luxury, unchastity, and various kinds of injustice. The
labourers themselves also cry to God, who is just coming to
avenge their cause. Of sabaoth-Of hosts, or armies.
Verse 5. Ye have cherished your hearts-Have indulged yourselves
to the uttermost. As in a day of sacrifice- Which were solemn
feast-days among the Jews.
Verse 6. Ye have killed the just-Many just men; in particular,
"that Just One," # Acts 3:14. They afterwards killed James,
surnamed the Just, the writer of this epistle. He doth not
resist you-And therefore you are secure. But the Lord cometh
quickly, # Jas 5:8.
Verse 7. The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit-Which
will recompense his labour and patience. Till he receives the
former rain-Immediately after sowing. And the latter-Before
Verse 8. Stablish your hearts-In faith and patience.
For the coming of the Lord-To destroy Jerusalem.
Is nigh-And so is his last coming to the eye of a believer.
Verse 9. Murmur not one against another-Have patience also
with each other. The judge standeth before the door-Hearing
every word, marking every thought.
Verse 10. Take the prophets for an example-Once persecuted
like you, even for speaking in the name of the Lord. The
very men that gloried in having prophets yet could not bear
their message: nor did either their holiness or their high
commission screen them from suffering.
Verse 11. We count them happy that endured-That suffered
patiently. The more they once suffered, the greater is
their present happiness. Ye have seen the end of the Lord
-The end which the Lord gave him.
Verse 12. Swear not-However provoked. The Jews were notoriously
guilty of common swearing, though not so much by God himself as
by some of his creatures. The apostle here particularly forbids
these oaths, as well as all swearing in common conversation.
It is very observable, how solemnly the apostle introduces this
command: above all things, swear not-As if he had said, Whatever
you forget, do not forget this. This abundantly demonstrates
the horrible iniquity of the crime. But he does not forbid the
taking a solemn oath before a magistrate. Let your yea be
yea; and your nay, nay-Use no higher asseverations in common
discourse; and let your word stand firm. Whatever ye say, take
care to make it good.
Verse 14. Having anointed him with oil-This single conspicuous
gift, which Christ committed to his apostles, # Mark 6:13,
remained in the church long after the other miraculous gifts
were withdrawn. Indeed, it seems to have been designed to
remain always; and St. James directs the elders, who were the
most, if not the only, gifted men, to administer at. This was
the whole process of physic in the Christian church, till it was
lost through unbelief. That novel invention among the Romanists,
extreme unction, practised not for cure, but where life is
despaired of, bears no manner of resemblance to this.
Verse 15. And the prayer offered in faith shall save the
sick-From his sickness; and if any sin be the occasion
of his sickness, it shall be forgiven him.
Verse 16. Confess your faults-Whether ye are sick or in health.
To one another-He does not say, to the elders: this may, or may
not, be done; for it is nowhere commanded. We may confess them
to any who can pray in faith: he will then know how to pray for
us, and be more stirred up so to do. And pray one for another,
that ye may be healed-Of all your spiritual diseases.
Verse 17. Elijah was a man of like passions-Naturally as weak and
sinful as we are. And he prayed-When idolatry covered the land.
Verse 18. He prayed again-When idolatry was abolished.
Verse 19. As if he had said, I have now warned you of those
sins to which you are most liable; and, in all these respects,
watch not only over yourselves, but every one over his brother
also. Labour, in particular, to recover those that are fallen.
If any one err from the truth-Practically, by sin.
Verse 20. He shall save a soul-Of how much more value than
the body! # Jas 5:14.
And hide a multitude of sins-Which shall no more, how many
soever they are, be remembered to his condemnation.
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Updated: Friday, June 27, 1997