Matthew 13:43
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
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(43) Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun.—The imagery is so natural that we hardly need to look for any reference to older teaching, yet we can hardly help remembering the path of the just that “shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18), and yet more, as connected more closely with the judgment to come, those “that shall shine as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). Yet the promise here has one crowning and supreme blessing: the kingdom in which the righteous shall thus shine forth is the kingdom of their Father.



Proverbs 4:18
. - Matthew 13:43.

The metaphor common to both these texts is not infrequent throughout Scripture. In one of the oldest parts of the Old Testament, Deborah’s triumphal song, we find, ‘Let all them that love Thee be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.’ In one of the latest parts of the Old Testament, Daniel’s prophecy, we read, ‘They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.’ Then in the New Testament we have Christ’s comparison of His servants to light, and the great promise which I have read as my second text. The upshot of them all is this-the most radiant thing on earth is the character of a good man. The world calls men of genius and intellectual force its lights. The divine estimate, which is the true one, confers the name on righteousness.

But my first text follows out another analogy; not only brightness, but progressive brightness, is the characteristic of the righteous man.

We are to think of the strong Eastern sun, whose blinding light steadily increases till the noontide. ‘The perfect day’ is a somewhat unfortunate translation. What is meant is the point of time at which the day culminates, and for a moment, the sun seems to stand steady, up in those southern lands, in the very zenith, raying down ‘the arrows that fly by noonday.’ The text does not go any further, it does not talk about the sad diminution of the afternoon. The parallel does not hold; though, if we consult appearance and sense alone, it seems to hold only too well. For, sadder than the setting of the suns, which rise again to-morrow, is the sinking into darkness of death, from which there seems to be no emerging. But my second text comes in to tell us that death is but as the shadow of eclipse which passes, and with it pass obscuring clouds and envious mists, and ‘then shall the righteous blaze forth like the sun in their Heavenly Father’s kingdom.’

And so the two texts speak to us of the progressive brightness, and the ultimate, which is also the progressive, radiance of the righteous.

I. In looking at them together, then, I would notice, first, what a Christian life is meant to be.

I must not linger on the lovely thoughts that are suggested by that attractive metaphor of life. It must be enough, for our present purpose, to say that the light of the Christian life, like its type in the heavens, may be analysed into three beams-purity, knowledge, blessedness. And these three, blended together, make the pure whiteness of a Christian soul.

But what I wish rather to dwell upon is the other thought, the intention that every Christian life should be a life of increasing lustre, uninterrupted, and the natural result of increasing communion with, and conformity to, the very fountain itself of heavenly radiance.

Remember how emphatically, in all sorts of ways, progress is laid down in Scripture as the mark of a religious life. There is the emblem of my text. There is our Lord’s beautiful one of vegetable growth: ‘First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.’ There is the other metaphor of the stages of human life, ‘babes in Christ,’ young men in Him, old men and fathers. There is the metaphor of the growth of the body. There is the metaphor of the gradual building up of a structure. We are to ‘edify ourselves together,’ and to ‘build ourselves up on our most holy faith.’ There is the other emblem of a race-continual advance as the result of continual exertion, and the use of the powers bestowed upon us.

And so in all these ways, and in many others that I need not now touch upon, Scripture lays it down as a rule that life in the highest region, like life in the lowest, is marked by continual growth. It is so in regard to all other things. Continuity in any kind of practice gives increasing power in the art. The artisan, the blacksmith with his hammer, the skilled artificer at his trade, the student at his subject, the good man in his course of life, and the bad man in his, do equally show that use becomes second nature. And so, in passing, let me say what incalculable importance there is in our getting habit, with all its mystical power to mould life, on the side of righteousness, and of becoming accustomed to do good, and so being unfamiliar with evil.

Let me remind you, too, how this intention of continuous growth is marked by the gifts that are bestowed upon us in Jesus Christ. He gives us-and it is by no means the least of the gifts that He bestows-an absolutely unattainable aim as the object of our efforts. For He bids us not only be ‘perfect, as our Father in Heaven is perfect,’ but He bids us be entirely conformed to His own Self. The misery of men is that they pursue aims so narrow and so shabby that they can be attained, and are therefore left behind, to sink hull down on the backward horizon. But to have before us an aim which is absolutely unreachable, instead of being, as ignorant people say, an occasion of despair and of idleness, is, on the contrary, the very salt of life. It keeps us young, it makes hope immortal, it emancipates from lower pursuits, it diminishes the weight of sorrows, it administers an anaesthetic to every pain. If you want to keep life fresh, seek for that which you can never fully find.

Christ gives us infinite powers to reach that unattainable aim, for He gives us access to all His own fullness, and there is more in His storehouses than we can ever take, not to say more than we can ever hope to exhaust. And therefore, because of the aim that is set before us, and because of the powers that are bestowed upon us to reach it, there is stamped upon every Christian life unmistakably as God’s purpose and ideal concerning it, that it should for ever and for ever be growing nearer and nearer, as some ascending spiral that ever circles closer and closer, and yet never absolutely unites with the great central Perfection which is Himself.

So, brethren, for every one of us, if we are Christian people at all, ‘this is the will of God, even your perfection.’

II. Consider the sad contrast of too many Christian lives.

I would not speak in terms that might seem to be reproach and scolding. The matter is far too serious, the disease far too widespread, to need or to warrant any exaggeration. But, dear brethren, there are many so-called and, in a fashion, really Christian people to whom Christ and His work are mainly, if not exclusively, the means of escaping the consequences of sin-a kind of ‘fire-escape.’ And to very many it comes as a new thought, in so far as their practical lives are concerned, that these ought to be lives of steadily increasing deliverance from the love and the power of sin, and steadily increasing appropriation and manifestation of Christ’s granted righteousness. There are, I think, many of us from whom the very notion of progress has faded away. I am sure there are some of us who were a great deal farther on on the path of the Christian life years ago, when we first felt that Christ was anything to us, than we are to-day. ‘When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you which be the first principles of the oracles of God.’

There is an old saying of one of the prophets that a child would die a hundred years old, which in a very sad sense is true about very many folk within the pale of the Christian Church who are seventy-year-old babes still, and will die so. Suns ‘growing brighter and brighter until the noonday!’ Ah! there are many of us who are a great deal more like those strange variable stars that sometimes burst out in the heavens into a great blaze, that brings them up to the brightness of stars of the first magnitude, for a day or two; and then they dwindle until they become little specks of light that the telescope can hardly see.

And there are hosts of us who are instances, if not of arrested, at any rate of unsymmetrical, development. The head, perhaps, is cultivated; the intellectual apprehension of Christianity increases, while the emotional, and the moral, and the practical part of it are all neglected. Or the converse may be the case; and we may be full of gush and of good emotion, and of fervour when we come to worship or to pray, and our lives may not be a hair the better for it all. Or there may be a disproportion because of an exclusive attention to conduct and the practical side of Christianity, while the rational side of it, which should be the basis of all, and the emotional side of it, which should be the driving power of all, are comparatively neglected.

So, dear brethren! what with interruptions, what with growing by fits and starts, and long, dreary winters like the Arctic winters, coming in between the two or three days of rapid, and therefore brief and unwholesome, development, we must all, I think, take to heart the condemnation suggested by this text when we compare the reality of our lives with the divine intention concerning them. Let us ask ourselves, ‘Have I more command over myself than I had twenty years ago? Do I live nearer Jesus Christ today than I did yesterday? Have I more of His Spirit in me? Am I growing? Would the people that know me best say that I am growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Saviour?’ Astronomers tell us that there are dark suns, that have burnt themselves out, and are wandering unseen through the skies. I wonder if there are any extinguished suns of that sort listening to me at this moment.

III. How the divine purpose concerning us may be realised by us.

Now the Alpha and the Omega of this, the one means which includes all other, is laid down by Jesus Christ Himself in another metaphor when He said, ‘Abide in Me, and I in you; so shall ye bring forth much fruit.’ Our path will brighten, not because of any radiance in ourselves, but in proportion as we draw nearer and nearer to the Fountain of heavenly radiance.

The planets that move round the sun, further away than we are on earth, get less of its light and heat; and those that circle around it within the limits of our orbit, get proportionately more. The nearer we are to Him, the more we shall shine. The sun shines by its own light, drawn indeed from the shrinkage of its mass, so that it gives away its very life in warming and illuminating its subject-worlds. But we shine only by reflected light, and therefore the nearer we keep to Him the more shall we be radiant.

That keeping in touch with Jesus Christ is mainly to be secured by the direction of thought, and love, and trust to Him. If we follow close upon Him we shall not walk in darkness. It is to be secured and maintained very largely by what I am afraid is much neglected by Christian people of all sorts nowadays, and that is the devotional use of their Bibles. That is the food by which we grow. It is to be secured and maintained still more largely by that which I, again, am afraid is but very imperfectly attained to by Christian people now, and that is, the habit of prayer. It is to be secured and maintained, again, by the honest conforming of our lives, day by day, to the present amount of our knowledge of Him and of His will. Whosoever will make all his life the manifestation of his belief, and turn all his creed into principles of action, will grow both in the comprehensiveness, and in the depths of his Christian character. ‘Ye are the light in the Lord.’ Keep in Him, and you will become brighter and brighter. So shall we ‘go from strength to strength, till we appear before God in Zion.’

IV. Lastly, what brighter rising will follow the earthly setting?

My second text comes in here. Beauty, intellect, power, goodness; all go down into the dark. The sun sets, and there is left a sad and fading glow in the darkening pensive sky, which may recall the vanished light for a little while to a few faithful hearts, but steadily passes into the ashen grey of forgetfulness.

But ‘then shall the righteous blaze forth like the sun, in their Heavenly Father’s kingdom.’ The momentary setting is but apparent. And ere it is well accomplished, a new sun swims into the ‘ampler ether, the diviner air’ of that future life, ‘and with new spangled beams, flames in the forehead of the morning sky.’

The reason for that inherent brightness suggested in our second text is that the soul of the righteous man passes from earth into a region out of which we ‘gather all things that offend, and them that do iniquity.’ There are other reasons for it, but that is the one which our Lord dwells on. Or, to put it into modern scientific language, environment corresponds to character. So, when the clouds have rolled away, and no more mists from the undrained swamps of selfishness and sin and animal nature rise up to hide the radiance, there shall be a fuller flood of light poured from the re-created sun.

That brightness thus promised has for its highest and most blessed character that it is conformity to the Lord Himself. For, as you may remember, the last use of this emblem that we find in Scripture refers not to the servant but to the Master, whom His beloved disciple in Apocalyptic vision saw, with His ‘countenance as the sun shining in his strength.’ Thus ‘we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’ And therefore that radiance of the sainted dead is progressive, too. For it has an infinite fulness to draw upon, and the soul that is joined to Jesus Christ, and derives its lustre from Him, cannot die until it has outgrown Jesus and emptied God. The sun will one day be a dark, cold ball. We shall outlast it.

But, brethren, remember that it is only those who here on earth have progressively appropriated the brightness that Christ bestows who have a right to reckon on that better rising. It is contrary to all probability to believe that the passage from life can change the ingrained direction and set of a man’s nature. We know nothing that warrants us in affirming that death can revolutionise character. Do not trust your future to such a dim peradventure. Here is a plain truth. They who on earth are as ‘the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,’ shall, beyond the shadow of eclipse, shine on as the sun does, behind the opaque, intervening body, all unconscious of what looks to mortal eyes on earth an eclipse, and ‘shall blaze out like the sun in their Heavenly Father’s kingdom.’ For all that we know and are taught by experience, religious and moral distinctions are eternal. ‘He that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still.’

13:31-35 The scope of the parable of the seed sown, is to show that the beginnings of the gospel would be small, but its latter end would greatly increase; in this way the work of grace in the heart, the kingdom of God within us, would be carried on. In the soul where grace truly is, it will grow really; though perhaps at first not to be discerned, it will at last come to great strength and usefulness. The preaching of the gospel works like leaven in the hearts of those who receive it. The leaven works certainly, so does the word, yet gradually. It works silently, and without being seen, Mr 4:26-29, yet strongly; without noise, for so is the way of the Spirit, but without fail. Thus it was in the world. The apostles, by preaching the gospel, hid a handful of leaven in the great mass of mankind. It was made powerful by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, who works, and none can hinder. Thus it is in the heart. When the gospel comes into the soul, it works a thorough change; it spreads itself into all the powers and faculties of the soul, and alters the property even of the members of the body, Ro 6:13. From these parables we are taught to expect a gradual progress; therefore let us inquire, Are we growing in grace? and in holy principles and habits?Declare unto us - That is, explain the meaning of the parable. This was done in so plain a manner as to render comment unnecessary. The Son of man, the Lord Jesus, sows the good seed - that is, preaches the gospel. This he did personally, and does now by his ministers, his providence, and his Spirit, by all the means of conveying "truth" to the mind. This seed was, by various means, to be carried over all the world. It was to be confined to no particular nation or people. The good seed was the children of the kingdom; that is, of the kingdom of God, or Christians. For these the Saviour toiled and died. They are the fruit of his labors. Yet amid them were wicked people; and all hypocrites and unbelievers in the church are the work of Satan. Yet they must remain together until the end, when they shall be separated, and the righteous saved and the wicked lost. The one shall shine clear as the sun, the other be cast into a furnace of fire - a most expressive image of suffering.

We have no idea of more acute suffering than to be thrown into the fire, and to have our bodies made capable of bearing the burning heat, and living on m this burning heat forever and forever. It is not certain that our Saviour meant to teach here that hell is made up of "material" fire; but it is certain that he meant to teach that this would be a proper "representation" of the sufferings of the lost. We may be further assured that the Redeemer would not deceive us, or use words to torment and tantalize us. He would not talk of hell-fire which had no existence, nor would the Saviour of people hold out frightful images merely to terrify mankind. If he has spoken of hell, then there is a hell. If he meant to say that the wicked shall suffer, then they will suffer. If he did not mean to deceive mankind, then there is a hell, and then the wicked will be punished. The impenitent, therefore, should be alarmed. And the righteous, however much wickedness they may see, and however many hypocrites there may be in the church, should be cheered with the prospect that soon the just will be separated from the unjust, and that they shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

43. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father—as if they had been under a cloud during the present association with ungodly pretenders to their character, and claimants of their privileges, and obstructors of their course.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear—(See Mr 4:9).

Fifth and Sixth Parables or Third Pair: The Hidden Treasure and The Pearl of Great Price (Mt 13:44-46).

The subject of this last pair, as of the two former, is the same, but also under a slight diversity of aspect: namely—

The Priceless Value of the Blessings of the Kingdom. And while the one parable represents the Kingdom as "found without seeking," the other holds forth the Kingdom as "sought and found."

The Hidden Treasure (Mt 13:44).

Ver. 40-43. As in the common practice of men, when they have a mind to pick their corn, and have it clean, when it is reaped, to set men to clean the wheat, and to pick out the tares, and, having tied them up in bundles, to burn them, so (saith he) I will do. I will send my angels at the day of judgment, and they shall take out of my church all impenitent sinners, all those who in this world have been scandals, and offences, and mischievous to my people, and who have made it their business to work iniquity.

And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. That is, into hell, which, in regard of the severe torments which the damned shall feel there, is often in Scripture compared to fire, as Matthew 25:41, and in other texts, by which is only set out to us the dreadfulness of the punishment of the damned, that is proportioned to, if not far exceeding, that of the burning living bodies in fire. Having thus expressed the punishment of wicked men, he expounds what he means by gathering the wheat into his barn, viz. the taking of righteous men to heaven.

Then, saith he,

shall the righteous, those whom I have clothed with my righteousness, and who have lived in obedience to my will to that degree, that though they be not perfectly righteous, yet are sincere and upright, so as I have accepted them,

shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father: an expression much like that of Daniel 12:2,3, significative of that glorious state of the saints in heaven, which no eye having seen, nor ear having heard, no tongue is able to express. He concludes in the same manner as he concludes the parable of the sower, exciting his hearers to a diligent consideration and belief of what he had said.

Our Saviour adding no particular explication of the two parables delivered, Matthew 13:31-33, the disciples not asking him to explain them, and the evangelist having put the explication of the first parable after them, it is reasonable, that though I omitted the explication of them in their proper place, yet I should add something here for the benefit of those who possibly will not be able so readily to conceive our Saviour’s meaning in them without an interpreter as the disciples did, which is thought to be the reason why they asked no explication of them. The one is the parable of the

grain of mustard seed, Matthew 13:31,32; the other, the parable of

leaven hid in three measures of meal, Matthew 13:33. The scope of both is the same. Our Saviour intended them both to let his disciples know the success that his gospel should have over all the world, that they might not be discouraged at the little success of it at present. To this purpose he compares it, first, to

a grain of mustard seed, which, he saith,

is the least of all seeds, that is, one of the least of seeds, or the least seed that produces so great a plant; but becomes a tree so high,

that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Though that small seed with us runs up to a great height, and produces a plant which hath branches considerable enough to lodge birds which sit low, yet we must not judge of what grew in those countries by what groweth in ours; there are strange and almost incredible stories told of that plant by naturalists, as to its growth in some hot and fertile countries. Christ by this foretold his disciples, what following ages quickly verified, that the heathen should entertain the gospel, and the sound of it should go to the ends of the earth, notwithstanding its present small appearance. Upon the same score he compares it to a little

leaven, which a woman hid in three measures of meal, till the whole mass of meal was leavened. By these two expressions our Saviour also lets us know the quick and powerful nature of the word; that Christ’s words are (as he said) spirit of life, and have a hidden and extraordinary virtue in them. I do not think it worth the while to inquire into the contents of these sata or measures of meal, and why he mentions but three. They are curiosities, the knowledge of which turneth to no account. Our Saviour certainly, by the expression, designed only to hint the small number of the Jews that believed in him, but foretold a far greater harvest.

The law should go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, as Isaiah prophesied, Isaiah 2:3; but many people (after them) should say, Come ye, let us go up to the mountain of the house of the Lord.

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun,.... The time referred to is, when the tares shall be separated from the wheat: when they that offend and do iniquity, shall be gathered out of Christ's kingdom; when the wicked shall be cast into hell: then the "righteous", not who are so merely in their own apprehensions, and in the judgment of others; nor by their obedience, legal or evangelical; but who are made so, by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them: these, though they have been in this world loaded with reproaches, and attended with many afflictions and persecutions; and have been despised for their poverty and meanness, and want of outward glory, honour, riches, and prosperity; shall now "shine forth" in the robe of Christ's righteousness, in perfect holiness of nature, in all felicity and prosperity of soul; and in the shining dazzling robes of glory, incorruption, and immortality, on their bodies; eves the sun, having no spot in them, or upon them, and without any clouds of darkness: they will be as Christ himself, the sun of righteousness, with whom, and in whose glory they shall appear, both in soul and body,

in the kingdom of their father; meaning either the same with the kingdom of Christ, the Father's and his, being one and the same; or as distinct from Christ's, see Matthew 13:41 the church, and the government of it in this world, in all ages of time, and especially in the latter day, and during the thousand years, Christ and his saints shall reign together, may be peculiarly called the kingdom of Christ; when it will be delivered to the Father, and God shall be all in all: so that the ultimate glory may, though not to the exclusion of the Son, be styled the kingdom of the Father; of God, who is the Father of Christ and of his people; and which is observed, to assure the saints of their interest in it, right unto it, and certain enjoyment of it. Some copies read, "the kingdom of heaven". Much the same images, here made use of, to set forth the glory of the saints, both in soul and body, in the world to come, are expressed by the Jews,

"The faces of the "righteous", they say, (h) in time to come, shall be , "like to the sun", and moon, to the stars and planets, and lightnings, and lilies, and to the lamp of the sanctuary.

And elsewhere (i) they observe, that "God in time to come, will beautify the body of "the righteous", as the beauty of the first man, when he entered into paradise, according to Isaiah 58:11 and that the soul, whilst in its dignity, shall be sustained with the superior light, and be clothed with it; and when it shall enter into the body hereafter, it shall enter with that light; and then shall the body shine, , "as the brightness of the firmament": as is said in Daniel 12:3. And a little after (k) it is said, that when.

"the soul goes out, the body is left, which shall be there built again, , "as the light of the sun", and as the brightness of the firmament.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear; and seriously consider of the several things said in this parable, concerning the wheat and tares, the righteous and the wicked, as being matters of the greatest moment and importance,

(h) Vajikra Rabba, fol. 170. 1. Siphre apud. Ceseph. Misna in Maimon. Hilch. Teshuba, c. 9. (i) Midrash haunealam apud Zohar in Gen. fol. 69. 1.((k) lb. fol. 70. 1. Vid. Midrash Tillim. in Psal. xi. apud Galatin. de Arcan. Cathol. ver. 1. 12. c. 6. p. 712.

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Matthew 13:43. Τότε] then, when this purging out of all the σκάνδαλα has been effected.

ἐκλάμψ.] the compound verb, which is used on purpose (to shine forth, to burst into light, Xen. Cyr. vii. 1, 2; Plat. Gorg. p. 484 A, Rep. iv. p. 435 A), and so not to be taken merely as descriptive of eternal felicity in its general aspect, but as conveying the idea of a sublime display of majestic splendor, of the δόξα of the righteous in the future kingdom of the Messiah. Comp. Dan. 13:3; Enoch 38:4, 39:7, 104:4. Contrast to the fate of the wicked in the furnace of fire.

τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτῶν] sweet closing words, full of blessed confidence, Matthew 25:34.

Matthew 13:43. ἐκλάμψουσι: vide Daniel 12:2, which seems to be in view; an expressive word suggestive of the sun emerging from behind a cloud. The mixture of good and evil men in this world hides the characters of both.

43. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun] Cp. Daniel 12:3, “Then they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.”

Matthew 13:43. Τότε, then) After the ungodly have been removed.—ἐκλάμψουσιν, they shall shine forth) They shall not burn as the ungodly, but they shall shine forth, singly, and much more, collectively.[637] The same word is employed by the LXX. in Daniel 12:3.—τοῦ Πατρὸς αὐτῶν, of their Father) who is righteous and glorious. How great is the difference of the righteous from the children of the wicked one! see Matthew 13:38.—ὁ ἔχων ὦτα, κ.τ.λ., he that hath ears, etc.) A formula suited, not only to the people, but also to the disciples.

[637] What can be sweeter, even to think of, than this?—V. g.

Verse 43. - Then shall the righteous. For with these also their character is seen in their lives (Matthew 5:45, note). Shine forth as the sun. An undoubted reference to the substance of Daniel 12:3. Observe that according to the thought of the parable, it is suggested that the likeness consists not only in the brightness of the sun in itself, but also in its being alone in the sky, with nothing round it to prevent its full glory being seen. Then. The chief lesson of the parable; not before, but at, that time. In the kingdom of their Father. In ver. 38 they were spoken of as "the sons of the kingdom;" here their Father is expressly mentioned, not "the Son of man" (vers. 37, 41). The same reference to his Father rather than to himself is found in Matthew 26:29. Did our Lord wish already to hint that "then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father" (1 Corinthians 15:24)? Had St. Paul's teaching also here a direct connexion with that of our Lord (ver. 41, note)? Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (ver. 9, note). Matthew 13:43Shine forth (ἐκλάμψουσιν)

The compound verb with ἐκ, forth, is designedly used to express a dissipating of darkness which has hidden: a bursting into light. The righteous shall shine forth as the sun from behind a cloud. The mixture of evil with good in the world obscures the good, and veils the true glory of righteous character. Compare Daniel 12:3.

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