Acts 16:19
When the girl's owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the marketplace.
Sermons
The Riot At PhilippiAlexander MaclarenActs 16:19
The Day that Looked Like the Day of Small ThingsP.C. Barker Acts 16:14, 15, 40
Five Truths from PhilippiW. Clarkson Acts 16:16-25
Paul and the Damsel of PhilippiJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 16:16-25
The Devil of AvariceD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 16:16-25
The PythonessDean Plumptre.Acts 16:16-25
The Rescue of a SlaveH. J. Martyn.Acts 16:16-25
The Soothsaying Damsel At PhilippiJohn Elstob.Acts 16:16-25
An Illustrious Triple Triumph of ChristianityP.C. Barker Acts 16:16-39
A Wonderful Nocturnal ServiceK. Gerok.Acts 16:19-26
Antagonism to Religion: How ArousedH. C. Trumbull, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
Apostolic Duty and VicissitudesR. A. Bertram.Acts 16:19-26
Christian Preachers in PrisonActs 16:19-26
Devotion Under DifficultiesActs 16:19-26
Disadvantages Made UsefulJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
God's Heroes and Man'sProf. Eadie.Acts 16:19-26
Good Men in PrisonW. Burrows, B. A.Acts 16:19-26
Good People in PrisonActs 16:19-26
Indirect Means of Doing GoodW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
Joy in Trouble, its Influence Upon OthersW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
Paul and Silas in PrisonM. C. Hazard.Acts 16:19-26
Paul and Silas in PrisonN. W. Taylor, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
Paul and Silas Sing Praises At MidnightActs 16:19-26
Paul At PhilippiD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
Paul Imprisoned At PhilippiActs 16:19-26
Preachers in PrisonT. Kelly.Acts 16:19-26
Sorrow Producing SongJ. FB. Tinling, B. A.Acts 16:19-26
The Consequences of Doing GoodS. S. TimesActs 16:19-26
The Effects of Christianity on Ancient SuperstitionsJ. J. Blunt, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
The Miracle in the PrisonLisco.Acts 16:19-26
The Power of SongH. R. Haweis, M. A.Acts 16:19-26
The Prayer Meeting in the Philippian JailC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
The Punishment of the MissionariesDean Plumptre.Acts 16:19-26
The Supreme Power of True PietyJ. S. Exell, M. A.Acts 16:19-26
The Surpassing Power of Personal ChristianityD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 16:19-26
What the Lord Can Make of a PrisonK. Gerok.Acts 16:19-26
Joy in TribulationE. Johnson Acts 16:19-34
The First European PersecutionR.A. Redford Acts 16:19-40
All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution. "We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom." The truth of these Pauline sayings had often been tested by experiences, of which this at Philippi was one of the most significant. Here, too, was one of the places where he learned to say, "Thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph!

I. SELF-INTEREST IN ARMS AGAINST THE TRUTH. So often - especially in our day - are men's interests and profits on tile same side with Christianity; we need to be reminded that godliness and gain (in the immediate and lower sense) are not identical.

1. The root of opposition to the truth. They saw their hope of gain was gone. Wherever men strike a blow against pure morality, sound and unrefuted principles of teaching, we may rely upon it some "vested interest" is at bottom the cause. The progress of the gospel has put an end to many false callings, and, let us hope, will put an end to many more.

2. The weapons of falsehood. False accusations, misrepresentations. Malice knows that the most effective mode of attack is the indirect. If you cannot disprove a man's arguments, you may blacken his character. If his private life is blameless, try to show that his principles are dangerous to society. If he speaks unwelcome truth, accuse him of breaking up the general peace and good feeling (1 Kings 18:17; Amos 7:10). The wolf in the fable! Crafty use of catch-cries is another instrument of passion and malice. The great Roman name and power is assailed, and that by hated and despicable Jews! This the first time that Roman law is invoked against the Christian. Observe the half-truth in the arguments of malice. Christianity does make men restless - it frightens the evil out of false repose. It does unhinge old customs, and was destined to overthrow the Roman pride. Thus was the multitude excited, as often under such circumstances, and, amidst howls of rage and gusts of indignation, the apostles are roughly handled, their garments torn; they are beaten and cast into close confinement.. So do malice and passion often appear to gain their will, while they are preparing for themselves a defeat.

II. INWARD JOY AMIDST OUTWARD DARKNESS; INWARD LIBERTY IN BONDS AND PRISON. At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns. What seems to be the gate of death and of hell may be converted by prayer and song into the gate of heaven, the avenue to Paradise. 'Tis not the place that sanctifies the spirit, but the spirit that sanctifies the place. Great the triumph of the spirit, to sing, not within the safe walls of the church, but behind the barred doors of the dungeon! Sweet are "songs in the night"! It is suffering which wrings the very soul of music from the heart; and to the prayers thus uttered, a deep Amen echoes in heaven.

III. DIVINE POWER MADE MANIFEST TO SENSE AND SPIRIT.

1. The earthquake. This was the outward answer to the prayer and song. Heaven and earth are moved at the prayer of the holy. As it trembled awfully through the prison, opening doors and loosening bonds, hearts also were smitten and flew open at the touch of God.

2. The agitation of the soul. The jailor wakes, at first to anguish and despair. The prisoners have escaped; he is a lost man! There is a sudden temptation to suicide, and at the eleventh hour crime is averted and salvation received. "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here!" Those who love allegorical treatment of texts may find matter here. Duty and the will of God are firmer bonds than handcuffs and the stocks. "We are all here" cry the servants of God, with the witness of our word, the pattern of our life, the intercessory prayer of our love. But a new fear, more awful than the former, seizes on the jailor's soul: "What must I do to be saved?" When it comes to this question in earnest, the soul is ripe for salvation. One such cry brings all the mercy of Heaven down.

3. The great question. It is not unprepared for. He had heard the apostles praying. Doubtless seeds of filth, dropped into his mind on some former occasion, now germinated and swiftly broke into life. As the earth breaks forth into greenness after a thunderstorm, so was new life born in the man's soul in the midst of the dread earthquake.

4. The great answer. Believe! "'Faith' is all your wisdom," said the skeptical emperor Julian. True! and let us abide by it. Affiance in the Holiest and Divinest, for time and for eternity; this and this alone is wisdom. Faith in the ever-blessed One makes blessed. In him we obtain a Divine Friend in the home; a holy domestic order; sweet domestic peace; assured domestic stability; a portion in the heavenly home.

5. The great decision. It is rather implied than expressed; shown by practical results than by words. Faith works in the jailor's heart by love. His thankfulness to Christ is shown by attentions of thoughtful kindness to his servants. The stern keeper of the stocks is transformed by the magic of love into the physician and the host. The jailor has become a "prisoner of Jesus Christ." Having washed his now honored guests from the stains of outward defilement, he receives at their hands the baptism of spiritual purity. The scene closes amidst purest jay. Thus do the darkest places and most repulsive associations become glorified and idealized by the Spirit of the living and loving God. The prison becomes a chapel; a dread place of judgment; a school of penitence and faith; a home of love and kindness; a place of new birth and new life. - J.







And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone.
I. CHRIST'S SERVANTS WILL USE WHATEVER POWER THEY POSSESS TO SET THE SLAVES OF SATAN FREE. Paul did not act from mere impulse, but upon the principle of compassion with which all true Christians are animated, he was miraculously endowed, it is true, while we have only the power of influence and persuasion. But when a country is invaded, what patriot will draw back because he has not a rifle of the most approved pattern? Let us then do what we can to exorcise the demons of intemperance, etc.

II. CHRIST'S SERVANTS ARE NOT TO EXPECT THAT THEIR EFFORTS WILL WIN EARTHLY REWARDS. This ought to be the result; but connected with all evils are vested interests which resist all efforts to diminish their gains. The owners of this damsel looked not at her benefit, but at their loss. For the same reason all reformers have been hated; and they must not be surprised at it (John 15:19-21).

III. CHRIST SECURES FOR HIS SERVANTS NOT EXEMPTION FROM SORROW, BUT A SUSTAINING JOY. All power is given to Christ, and He sometimes uses it to disappoint the enemies of His servants; but more frequently He leaves them, as here, to suffer for His name's sake. But it is then that He gives then the sweetest assurances of His presence and love; and makes them more than conquerors (Acts 5:41).

IV. BY THEIR CONDUCT TOWARDS THEIR PERSECUTORS CHRIST'S SERVANTS SHOW THAT THEY ARE HIS. That can be no merely human religion which enables men to conquer the natural desire for revenge, and to do good to those by whom they have been despitefully used.

V. BY THEIR FIDELITY TO CONVICTION AND THE BEAUTY OF THEIR CHARACTER CHRIST'S SERVANTS WILL ULTIMATELY WIN THE RESPECT OF THOSE WHO HAVE WRONGED THEM. The behaviour of Paul and Silas impressed the jailer quite as much as the earthquake. That might have been a natural occurrence, but the cheerfulness and kindness of the missionaries under the circumstances were obviously supernatural. So it is that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."

VI. TURNING TO THE JAILER, we learn —

1. That the worst of men may become the servants of Christ.

2. That they may become so instantly. How long does it take to enlist a recruit? The resolve may be the fruit of long consideration, and it may take months of drill to make him an efficient soldier; but the act of enlistment is instantaneous.

3. The proof that men have become servants of Christ consists not in emotion but in conduct.

(R. A. Bertram.)

I. THE PREPARATION FOR GOD'S SPIRITUAL WORK. The rebuke of the evil spirit in the girl, the anger of the crowd, the imprisonment, seemed to form a series of events complete in itself and existing for itself, if we may say so. But these things were but the preparation for something more important.

1. The preparation for God's work was by affliction. The disciples found themselves cast down, but the sequel showed it was in order that they might be exalted, by being used as a means of glorying God. A man's best work comes sometimes after he has ceased to be able to work at all. God works through our afflictions even when we do not know it. Well may we then count it joy when we are honoured by falling upon them.

2. The affliction of the apostles was certain, sooner or later, because of the ever persisting antagonism between the gospel and the world. And is it not forever so to the end of time? Must not the gospel always find opposition from the world? Surely this vile world is not a friend to grace to help us on to God.

3. Paul's understanding of this made him careless of being unpopular. He had counted the cost of his service and was willing to pay it.

4. The affliction of the apostles was relieved by faith. They trusted God to give them strength to endure it, to lead them out of it into safety, and beyond these, to use the affliction itself as an instrument of his own purposes.

5. God is with His children in times of trial.

6. Such faith makes one thoughtful for others. Paul was not so absorbed in his own rapture as to forget the jailer. "Do thyself no harm; for we are all here." Forgetfulness of others is no part of the soul's deepest joy.

7. In Paul's joy in God there was involved forgiveness to those who injured him.

II. THE WORK OF GOD. God by His permission of the apostles' affliction had made ready for the first soul-ingathering among the heathen of Europe.

1. The first element that appears in the experience of the Philippian jailer is fear. He was trembling when he sprang into the cell (ver. 29). John Bunyan had an awful experience of his own sinfulness before he was converted. If all have sinned, all are entitled to a guilty fearful conscience.

2. This dread of conscience was immediately accompanied by a consciousness of the supernatural.

3. With fear went desire. "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" What it was to be saved he knew in a most undefined way. Wants do not have to be defined in order to be genuine. A child knows that it feels bad but cannot always tell where or why, yet its suffering is most real. And to want the gospel comes with complete satisfaction. But it does not come except to the want.

4. The jailer was willing to do anything necessary for salvation. "Sirs, what must I do?"

5. The answer has well been called classic. It sums up once for all the ages everything that is required of man in order to be saved.

(1)Do nothing. Salvation is not of works.

(2)Believe.

(3)Make Christ the object of faith.

6. This faith has its social bearing. It is recognised as an influential element in the family, which is here shown to be the God-constituted unit of human life.

7. True faith will not be ignorant. It recognises its imperfection and is ever seeking to learn more of the truth of God, that it may appropriate it by faith (ver. 32).

8. As soon as faith had entered the jailer's heart, it emerged again in a deed of kindness; he washed the apostles' wounds. So by a beautiful spiritual chemistry faith is ever transmuting the love of God as it comes into our upward-opened hearts into love for our fellow men (1 John 4:12).

9. Immediately there came an open recognition of Christian faith in the form of baptism. Wherever there is faith there should be frank, manly avowal of it.

10. No wonder the jailer when he had brought them into his house rejoiced (ver. 34). It was the happiest time he had ever known in his life. No wonder the jailer rejoiced. Blessed beyond words are all those who come to know Christ and His salvation.

III. LESSONS ABOUT CONVERSION.

1. Providence often prepares for it, sometimes by suffering and sorrow.

2. There are many ways of being led to Christ, and all are valid. Lydia came one way, the jailer another. No one need try to force himself into another's experience.

3. Faith is the same for all. All are sinners. All need the atoning blood. All must trust without any merit of their own.

4. Salvation is free to all. What Paul said to the jailer he said to the whole world. Whosoever will may come.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

S. S. Times.
1. If you destroy a man's hope of gain you are very apt to make him your enemy.

2. When you are hindering a man's business, he will charge you with precipitating a general business panic.

3. When you drive prosperity from a bad man's door, you may be inviting adversity to enter your own.

4. When you help some afflicted one, when you free some oppressed one, the affliction or the oppression may be transferred to yourself.

5. When you do a good deed, and are put in prison for it, wait for God's deliverance — it will come.

6. The night is not all dark, nor the stocks hard, nor the imprisonment bitter, to those who, in the consciousness that they are suffering for Christ, wait for the breaking fetters and the earthquake shock.

(S. S. Times.)

So long as the preaching of the gospel does not interfere with bad men's money making, bad men are disposed to let it alone, as "none of their business." But when the work of these temperance people interferes with liquor selling; when the work of these law and order people stops the selling of vile books and pictures, and closes Sunday concert saloons; when the religious sentiment of the community rises up against lotteries and raffles; when the political reform movements propose to stop stealing in the city institutions — then it is evident to every servant of the devil whose supply of gain is thereby cut off, that "these men do exceedingly trouble our city," and the same feeling against the gospel is aroused in them as showed itself in the impoverished hog raisers of the Gadarenes. This is one of the sure hindrances in the path of all zealous Christian workers.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

The priesthood in all its branches, Flamens, Augurs, Hornspices, contemplated the advance of Christianity with dismay. It emptied their temples, curtailed their sacrifices, reduced their profits, exposed their frauds.

(J. J. Blunt, D. D.)

And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison.
The words imply a punishment of more than usual severity, such as would leave their backs lacerated and bleeding. So in 1 Thessalonians 2:2, St. Paul speaks of having been "shamefully entreated" at Philippi. Those who have seen anything of the prisons of the Roman empire, as e.g., Mamertine dungeon at Rome itself, can picture to themselves the darkness and foulness of the den into which St. Paul and his friend were now thrust: the dark cavern-like cell, below the ground, the damp and reeking walls, the companionship of the vilest outcasts. And, as if this were not enough, they were fastened in the "stocks." St. Luke used the Greek term xylon, the same as is used sometimes for the cross (Acts 5:30; Acts 13:29). The technical Latin word was nervus. Like the English stocks, it was a wooden frame with five holes, into which head and feet and arms were thrust, and the prisoner left in an attitude of "little ease." Here, however, it would seem, the feet only were fastened, the rest of the body being left lying on the ground. If the received version of Job 13:37; 33:11, which follows the LXX and the Vulgate, be correct, the punishment was common at a very early period in the East (compare Jeremiah 29:26).

(Dean Plumptre.)

When Catherine Evans, a Quaker heroine of the seventeenth century, was imprisoned within the gloomy walls of the Inquisition, in the Island of Malta, for obeying what she regarded as a call from God to preach the gospel in the East, she was put into an inner room of the Inquisition, which had only two little holes in it for light and air, and which was so exceedingly hot that it seemed to be the intention to stifle her. On one occasion Friar Malachi told her unless she abandoned her religion she should never go out of that room alive. To this she fearlessly replied, "The Lord is sufficient to deliver me, but whether He will or no, I will not forsake the living fountain to drink at a broken cistern." In like manner Paul and Silas, when apprehended and thrust into the inner prison of Philippi, were not debarred thereby from praising and preaching Christ. To such men, indeed,

Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage.

Some years ago three Primitive Methodist preachers went to mission a town in Worcestershire, and when they commenced the service, there was a magistrate, a clergyman, and a constable. The constable was ordered to take the preacher down, and he took him down and put him in prison; but there was immediately a second one up preaching away. The magistrate ordered the constable to take the second one, and then the third one was up preaching away. He bad orders to take the third, and he put all three together into the prison and they made a noise there. The magistrate went to the constable, and he said, "What a noise those men are making; go and separate them, and do not let them make a noise like that." So the man went in and separated them, and he put two of them in a cell with a robber, and they preached the gospel to the robber. They preached to him, and they prayed with him, and he got converted. More noise than ever now. The magistrate said, "I told you to separate those men." "Well," he said, "I have separated them." "Separate them again, then." "Well," he said, "if I separate them again they will all get it. That robber is as bad as they are now."

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God
I. THE MEN ENGAGED WERE EMINENTLY GOOD. "Paul and Silas."

1. They were employed in the highest service.

2. They were the truest benefactors of society.

3. They were successful opponents of evil.

4. They were martyrs to religious fidelity.

II. THE PLACE WAS NOTORIOUSLY WICKED. "Prison."

1. Circumstances are no criterion of character.

2. Doing good does not necessarily produce its equivalent.

3. The world is ignorant of the nature of true religion.

4. The good are non-resistant in their method of meeting persecution.

5. The ungodly are permitted great freedom.

III. THE TIME was extremely unusual. "Midnight." It was neither of the usual "hours" of devotion. The heart of man on earth and the ear of God in heaven are not regulated by our chronometers. Midnight, as well as midday, is the "accepted" time.

1. It was singular time. The world asleep.

2. It was sacred time. David and other eminent servants of God often worshipped them.

3. It was suitable time. Silence reigned. Quietness favourable to devotion.

IV. THE SERVICE WAS MARVELLOUS IN ITS NATURE. They had been stopped serving God by preaching. In the circumstances they did what they could.

1. There was supplication.

(1)Probably for pardon of enemies.

(2)Probably for success of mission.

(3)Probably for guidance in difficulties.

(4)Probably for preservation of converts.

2. There was song.

(1)Consciousness of Divine favour.

(2)Acknowledgment of Divine favour.

(3)Enjoyment of Divine favour.

3. There was sublimity. Such conduct in such a place was unique — marvellous.

V. THE RESULTS WERE EXTRAORDINARILY GREAT.

1. Shaking of the prison.

(1)Proof of the Divine presence.

(2)Illustration of the Divine power.

(3)Sign of the Divine indignation.

(4)Symbol of the Divine goodness. Open doors and broken chains. Moral freedom.

2. Conversion of the prison keeper.

(1)Fear.

(2)Inquiry.

(3)Instruction.

(4)Faith.

(5)Obedience.

(6)Courtesy.

(7)Joy.

3. Liberation of the prisoners.

(1)Infringement of rights.

(2)Assertion of claims.

(3)Acknowledgment of wrong.

(4)Freedom.Conclusion:

1. God cares for the good.

2. Fidelity to God rewarded.

3. Ultimate triumph of the gospel.

4. Worship God.

(B. D. Johns.)

Like the nightingale, which warbles forth its beautiful notes in the night time, and when other birds are quietly asleep, so these two apostles sang praises to God at unconventional hours, for they were in unusual circumstances, and in an unconventional place. Many people will go some distance to hear the nightingale, and do not soon forget its notes; so all this prisoners in the jail at Philippi heard the apostles sing that night, and, it is hoped, they never forgot it. The other day, when the wind was furiously swaying the trees, when the heavy hailstones rattled against the window panes, and the darkened skies poured down the rain in torrents amid lightning flashes, until our hearts were quaking with fear, a beautiful little bird sat upon one of our sheltered rose bushes and sang its clear and beautiful notes, as though it knew God would not suffer the storm to hurt it. So, when the storm of persecution burst over the apostles at Philippi, though the excitement of their situation and the soreness of their stripes kept them awake, as some think, yet they sang praises to God, believing not only that their situation would be a furtherance to the gospel, but that God would not suffer them to be hurt.

I. THE UNUSUAL HOUR OF PRAYER — midnight.

II. THE SINGULAR TEMPLE — a prison.

III. The remarkable conductors of THE SERVICE. — Paul and Silas in the stocks.

IV. THE STRANGE CONGREGATION — the prisoners in their cells.

(K. Gerok.)

It is always easy to have an excellent prayer meeting when the heart is right. There were three persons attending this one there in the jail. The ancient Jews had a saying, "Where two persons meet, there is ever a third." Paul and Silas and Jesus Christ spent the night together (Matthew 18:19, 20). It was a most unusual —

I. TIME — "midnight." The Jews were strict as to their stated seasons of supplication; but this was the hour of neither the evening nor the morning oblation. But God never slumbers, He is alive to His children's wants even in "the dead of night."

II. PLACE. This was the first time the voice of Christian devotion was heard in those precincts — the earliest dungeon in Europe which held a mercy seat, although it has had many successors.

III. POSTURE. It was neither standing, nor kneeling, nor lying on one's face. What a poor time they would have had, if they had been compelled to use a formula or work themselves into an attitude. God does not care for attitudes when only the heart is right, and the spirit true, and the want pressing.

IV. KIND OF PRAYER. "Praying, they sang." They set their petitions to music. True prayer is praise, and genuine praise is prayer.

V. EXPRESSION OF PRAYER — by tones of old Hebrew melodies such as one hears now in the synagogue: wild, pathetic, plaintive, and fascinating. Match one of David's psalms or Isaiah's anthems to it, and it will move one's heart like a strain from the sky. He who has at command psalm after psalm has wonderful resources of comfort in his times of trouble.

VI. REACH OF PRAYER. No doubt God heard it, but "the prisoners" also heard it. These were the "songs in the night" that Elihu told Job about; perhaps the psalm was that where David told of the good his singing did him (Psalm 42:8). And we can have no sort of doubt that the jailer heard everything that was going on.

VII. FORCE OF PRAYER. The Lord sent the earthquake in answer, and converted the jailer.

VIII. DIRECTION OF PRAYER. Imagine a triangle. The perpendicular line represents the direction of a Christian man's petition: it goes up straight towards God. The horizontal line represents the level pressure of the same force, going out towards those within range. That jailer, no doubt, heard the singing and the praying; it was not addressed to him, but it swept out toward him with lateral force. It is not safe to calculate deliberately upon affecting a bystander by our supplication; preaching in prayers is never to be commended; but a life of prayer, and an unconscious fervour of prayer in an individual instance, may be useful to one who watches it.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Wondrous power of music! When prayers give out, when all is dark, the mystic waves of sweet melody have still force to lift us out of ourselves, and upon their golden tides our souls seem to float away and leave far behind them the sad life of tears and strife. I note that Jesus is recorded as singing but once. It was when His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death — when the gloom and foreboding was deepest — when His disciples could not speak or pray, and hardly dared to think. Then, after supper, when they had sung a hymn, they went out into Gethsemane. In our own homes, in times of deep trouble — after the death or burial of a beloved one — in the midst of some great pain or loss — when the children look blankly at each other, and sit talking in whispers, and father and mother scarce know how to speak without weeping — a sister or friend will go to the piano or harmonium, and presently there shall arise such a sweet hymn as shall draw the voices of the sorrowing little company together, and the cloud will be lifted, something like a tender serenity and peace coming over the oppressed and darkened hearts as the pulses of the music rise and fall. Indeed there have been times in the history of the Church when music, hymn singing, chanting, have done duty for almost the whole of religion. What a part did hymn singing play in the life of Luther — in the Lollard movement — in Wesleyan prayer meetings — in the Salvation Armies — past and present.

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

The agonies of Germany in the Thirty Years' War and other conflicts was productive of a vast number of patriotic and Christian songs. At the end of the seventeenth century, Councillor Faankenau made a collection of 32,712, which he presented in three hundred volumes to the University library at Copenhagen; while in 1718 another collector, Wetzel, reckoned 55,000 printed German hymns.

(J. FB. Tinling, B. A.)

A lamp, when lighted, may burn by day, but it is only at night that it is seen by the neighbourhood. The darkness does not kindle or cause the light, but the darkness reveals it and spreads it around. It is thus that consistent joy in the Lord, when believers attain it, in a time of trouble becomes an effective testimony for Christ. Not a few owe their conversion instrumentally to the light that streamed from a saint in the hour of his departure — to the song that rose from the pilgrim when he was traversing the valley of the shadow of death.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

No man has more religion than he can show in time of adversity. The jail was a test of the Christian character of Paul and Silas. The way they stood the test, not only exalts them as Christian heroes, but also shows what power there is in the religion of Jesus.

I. A GREAT EARTHQUAKE.

1. The prisoners rejoicing (ver. 25). They were praying — for they needed comfort. They sang praises — for comfort was given. Their hymns were unto God alone; but "the prisoners were listening unto them." The Christian often exerts an influence of which he is unaware. What must have been the feelings of the listeners? Probably —(1) Wonder. Songs from that inner prison was an unheard of thing. From there usually came groans, curses, wails of despair.(2) A conviction that the two men were sustained by the God whom they were praising.(3) A desire to partake of the same peace and joy. When a disciple has sunshine in trial, then men say, "If religion can do that for us, then we want it." Songs in the night are better than sermons in the daytime.

2. The prisoners loosed. God now endorses the singers. The earthquake was natural in its character; but it happened at a time that shows that God was in it, using it, as He can use any force of nature, to accomplish His will.

II. A GREAT CHANGE.

1. The keeper despairing (ver. 27). His life depended upon the keeping of the prisoners. Awakened by the shock his first thought was of fidelity to his office, and, when he beheld the open doors, his instant conclusion was that the prisoners had escaped.

2. The keeper saved.(1) From self-destruction (ver. 28). There are two interesting questions in connection with this.(a) How did Paul know that the keeper was intending suicide? He was in the "inner" prison, where he could have seen nothing.(b) Why did none of the prisoners attempt to escape? It would seem as if the songs of the two missionaries, and the marvel which followed, had held them spellbound.(2) From eternal destruction. Why did the keeper tremble? He was in no danger; for not a prisoner had escaped. He had rightly connected the earthquake with God and the presence of the servants of God. His fear was of Him who is the Judge of all. How was he saved? "Believe," etc. Note how much larger the promise was than the question — "thou and thy house." He had asked for himself only, but ha obtained assurance for those whose salvation was of as much consequence as his own.

3. The keeper changed. How was the change shown?(1) In washing their stripes. His occupation had made him indifferent to the sufferings of others. But now that he had learned to love the Saviour his heart was touched with pity.(2) "Was baptized, he and all his immediately." Thus he and they expressed at once their faith in Christ.(3) "Set meat before them." He did not forget any of their physical wants in his own great joy. Those who have been fed with the Bread of Life should not be oblivious to the fact that the minister by whom they are fed has a body that needs to be fed also.(4) "Rejoiced greatly," etc. Now he was the possessor of the same joy that had caused those songs in the night.

III. A GREAT HUMILIATION.

1. The magistrate's permission to depart.(1) Given (ver. 35). They realised that they had acted hastily, and without warrant, and desired to get rid of the men as quietly as possible.(2) Refused. Paul did not stand upon a point of order as a matter of pride. If they departed without vindication, their influence as preachers of the gospel would be gone. For the honour of the Master, they refused to go.

2. The magistrates' humiliation (ver. 37). And the magistrates were made to come. They did not feel safe until they had gone where they would not again hear from them. The missionaries went out of prison with their innocence as publicly declared as their punishment. And thus they strengthened the hold of the gospel in Philippi.

3. The missionaries' departure (ver. 40). Having suffered so much, one would think that they needed comforting by the brethren instead. But God had comforted them with so great a comfort, that they still were the richer, and could afford to give. They went away, but they left brethren behind them. The Church was established at Philippi, and that could not be driven out.

(M. C. Hazard.)

The Christian looks beyond this world for complete happiness. Yet while here on earth he has something which the world can neither give nor take away. Deprive him of all that which ministers to the happiness of worldly men, and still he is happy. We have a striking example of this in the text. What then can make us happy in any condition, or under any circumstances? We answer — that which made Paul and Silas so happy in the prison at Philippi. The same sources of support and joy are open to every real Christian. Let us, then, examine them.

I. THEIR COMPARATIVE ESTIMATE OF WHAT THEY GAINED, WITH WHAT THEY LOST. It is by such comparisons that we form our estimate of almost every condition in human life. In this world, that is reasonably esteemed an eligible condition in which the good to be enjoyed far outweighs the evil to be endured. What then was the case of these prisoners? Were they in prison — it was not the prison of death. Were they in chains — they still possessed the liberty of the sons of God. Did they endure the pains of the lash — they had peace which passeth all understanding. Had they no hopes from the world — they had the hope of eternal glory. Who that possessed millions would grieve at the loss of a penny? When, therefore, we hear them say, "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as having nothing, yet possessing all things," their language is intelligible.

II. THE ASSURANCE THAT THEIR SUFFERINGS WERE THE MEANS OF GREAT GOOD. They regarded suffering not only as inseparably connected with the crown of glory, but as the appointed means of the preparation to wear it. They, therefore, "gloried in tribulation because tribulation worketh patience," etc. They rejoiced in the darkness of the dungeon, because there every Christian grace shone purer and brighter.

III. LOVE TO HIM FOR WHOM THEY SUFFERED. Love is the strongest passion of the human heart. It is delight in the object loved. With what cheerfulness and pleasure does it lead us to act or suffer! As intimately connected with their love to Christ, I ought to mention the great object of these men — the honour of Christ. Ease, pleasure, honour, interest, life were nothing in their view, and Christ was all in all. Conclusion:

1. Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is. Real religion in its nature is a rich source of support and joy in every condition.

2. Religion is as good a thing now as in the days of the apostles. The same sources of enjoyment are open to us as to them. Why then should not religion bless the Christian under the little crosses of this tranquil age, as well as under the terrors which the annals of persecution record? Alas t here is the defect. They have not as much religion as they ought to have and might have.

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

We gather from this narrative —

1. That good men are persecuted notwithstanding the most evident signs that they are the servants of God. The presumption of evildoers.

2. That the beneficent ministries of good men incur the hatred of unrighteous traffickers.

3. That religious persecutions are generally promoted by men who have the least regard for religion.

4. That religion often has to endure the blame of tumults raised by evildoers.

I. THE POWER OF TRUE PIETY TO GIVE MEN JOY AMIDST CIRCUMSTANCES OF SORROW. Paul and Silas —

1. Their patient endurance.

2. Their fervent devotion.(1) Devotion superior to physical pain. They had been beaten. Song stronger than sorrow.(2) Devotion superior to the suggestion of mental association. Prison a suggestive place.(3) Devotion superior to the habitual needs of human life. Midnight — time of sleep.

3. Their unique conduct. The masters with gains lost were in despair; the jailer in earthquake was about to commit suicide. Paul and Silas worshipped. Piety is supreme judged by results.

II. THE POWER OF TRUE PIETY TO GIVE MEN CALMNESS IN PHYSICAL DISTURBANCE.

1. God takes care of His persecuted servants.

2. The moral significance of the physical occurrences on the earth. Newspapers can only record the earthquake, not its hidden providences.

III. THE POWER OF TRUE PIETY TO ENABLE MEN TO GIVE GUIDANCE AMIDST MORAL PERPLEXITY. See how the providence of God has in view the awakening of the souls of men. "Believe," etc.

1. This advice was willing.

2. Wise.

3. Practicable.

4. Inspiring.

5. Accepted.

IV. THE POWER OF TRUE PIETY TO GIVE MEN DIGNITY IN THE HUMILIATING EMERGENCIES OF LIFE. "Let them come," etc.

1. Not the language of proud self-assertion.

2. The language of self-vindication.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I. THE PREACHERS.

1. Their punishment.

(1)"Many stripes."

(2)"In the inner prison."

(3)"Their feet fast in the stocks." Cell windowless and damp; stocks irritating and painful.

2. Their piety. "Prayed and sang." Only heroes of the highest type could have prayed in such a place.

3. Their noise. "The prisoners heard them." They will have all the more attentive audience by the place and time. Noise was no new thing in the old prison. Groans, curses, threats had often echoed through those gloomy corridors; but never until now prayer and praise.

4. Their deliverance.

(1)It was supernatural. "A great earthquake."

(2)It was instantaneous. "Immediately the doors were opened."

(3)It was complete. "Every man's bands were loosed."

II. THE PENITENT. The exciting scenes of the afternoon and evening had passed, and "at midnight" the jailer is fast asleep.

1. His surprise ("waking out of his sleep") at the swaying of the prison, the open doors, and the supernatural aspect of things generally.

2. His fear. "That the prisoners had fled." Nothing was more reasonable. Prisoners have not much conscience when the alternative of bondage or freedom is before them.

3. His desperation. "Would have killed himself." Believing his own life to be forfeited, his first thought was that of suicide. That was the highest point to which heathen culture could rise. The advice of Seneca was, "If life is pleasant, live; if not, you have a right to return whence you came."

4. His instructions. "Do thyself no harm." How did Paul know he was going to do himself harm?

5. His encouragement. "We are all here." How, then, could Paul vouch for this?

6. His penitence. "Came trembling." The marvels he had witnessed had aroused his conscience, and smitten him with an awful sense of guilt and alarm.

7. His humility. "Fell down before Paul." There are earthquake crises in life when God's despised people are appreciated — crises when they only can allay the troubled spirit, and answer the momentous questions which agitate and alarm the human heart.

8. His inquiry. "What must I do to be saved?" The danger implied in this question is not that which prompted him to suicide. The presence of all the prisoners saved him from that. The inquiry involves a conviction —

(1)Of danger. "Saved."

(2)Of the importance of action or effort. "Must."

(3)Anxiety to do what may be required. "What must I do?"

(4)Personal responsibility. "What must I do?" We lose ourselves in the crowd. True penitence individualises the man.

III. THE PARDON.

1. Its condition — "Believe."

2. Its object — "Jesus Christ."

3. Its certainty — "Thou shalt be saved."

4. Its effects.

(1)Sympathetic — "Washed their stripes." A man should doubt his conversion if he does not seek to undo the wrongs of yesterday.

(2)Hospitality — Into his house.

(3)Liberality — Set meat before them.

(4)Public and prompt confession — Baptised straightway.

(5)Influence — "And all his." One saved man has a tendency to produce another.The jailer, though a heathen, had some manhood and character about him, or his family would not have been so ready to follow him with such confidence.

(T. Kelly.)

It is a great disgrace to humanity that its greatest benefactors have been ill-treated. Next to the Saviour, the world has known no truer benefactor than Paul. And yet he was cast into prison. We feel ashamed of our complaining as we think of this God's true hero singing songs of praise unto the Lord.

I. A GOOD MAN RADIATES HIS INFLUENCE. He cannot help it.

1. Silas was benefited by his connection with Paul. Silas was a man of mark, but he became more remarkable from his identification with Paul. We may not get earthly greatness or riches, but we must be better in a moral sense by allowing ourselves to be touched by a good man's influence. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise."

2. Paul and Silas together exerted a good influence —(1) On the prisoners, who listened to the sweet singing.(2) On the jailer, whom they rescued from death. It has been so ever since. "The path of the just is as the shining light." A bird will sing in a cage; a preacher has spoken through the grating of his cell.

II. A GOOD MAN'S CHARACTER IS NOT DAMAGED BY OUTWARD CONDITIONS. His reputation may be affected by them; for a man may have a good character and a bad reputation. Paul and Silas had a bad reputation. But a change is soon brought about. The very jailer acknowledges them as messengers of God. Today the world delights to honour those men who sat in that cell. If we suffer as evil-doers, we have reason to be ashamed; but if we suffer as Christians, let us glorify God on this behalf.

III. GOOD MEN ARE TRUE TO THEIR PRINCIPLES, THOUGH THEY HAVE BEEN THE CAUSES OF DISASTER. If the world were morally right, correct principles would never bring a man into trouble. If the apostles had been brought up in the school of worldly prudence, and had sat at the feet of Professors Pliable and Worldly Wiseman, they would not have had a sore back that night, though they might have had the worse evil of an uneasy conscience. But they were brought up in the school of Christ. The lesson impressed upon their mind was, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." It was theirs to dare to do the right, and leave consequences. Throw the mere professor into prison, and he soon recants. But when Paul and Silas are thrown into prison, they pray and sing praises unto God. They do not change their mode of procedure.

IV. GOOD MEN ARE SUSTAINED AND ENCOURAGED IN THEIR SUFFERINGS.

1. The consciousness of having done right is a sustaining power. Paul and Silas had songs given to them in the night time of their confinement, while the poor jailer was in agonies, and the magistrates who condemned were sadly troubled.

2. The consciousness of a helper in heaven is a sustaining power. Paul without prayer would have been Paul without his lofty heroism. Prayer nerved his arm for the conflict, and brought down heavenly blessings.

(W. Burrows, B. A.)

John Bunyan, the immortal dreamer, speaking on one occasion of the cell on Bedford Bridge, where for twelve long years he was confined, said, "So, being again delivered up to the jailer's hands, I was had home to prison." When Madame Guyon was imprisoned in the Castle of Vincennes, in 1695, she not only sang, but wrote songs of praise to her God. "It sometimes seemed to me," she said, "as if I were a little bird whom the Lord had placed in a cage, and that I had nothing now to do but to sing. The joy of my heart gave a brightness to the objects around me. The stones of my prison looked in my eyes like rubies. I esteemed them more than all the gaudy brilliancies of a vain world. My heart was full of that joy which Thou givest to them that love Thee in the midst of their greatest crosses" — a sentiment which she embodied, during one of her imprisonments, in a touching little poem, which begins thus —

"A little bird I am,

Shut from the fields of air;

And in my songs I sit and sing

To Him who placed me there:

Well pleased a prisoner to be,

Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee."Bass Rock, a lonely island cliff in the Firth of Forth, off Haddingtonshire, two miles from land, was once used by the English Government as a fortress and State prison. Here, in the seventeenth century, many good ministers, persecuted for conscience' sake, suffered confinement; and one of their number, Mr. Fraser, of Brea, wrote an account of their prison hardships. They were alternately chilled through with cold and half suffocated with smoke, fed with unwholesome food, and scarcely fed at all. "Many contracted diseases there which embittered and shortened their lives. But from within those walls the voice of praise and prayer might be often heard, mingled with the laughter, oaths, and songs of the reckless sentinels; and the souls of the captives were borne, on the wings of holy meditation, far aloft and away from the dreary rock within which their bodies were pent." "Every day," continues Fraser, "I read the Scriptures, exhorted and taught therefrom, did sing psalms and prayed with such of our society as our masters did permit to worship together, and this two times a day. I studied Hebrew and Greek, and I likewise read some divinity, and wrote a Treatise on Faith."

I. THE PRAYER (ver. 25). It is night. All are buried in slumber. A dark building — a lodging for the night, a prison. But light is in one of the cells — internal light, the light of faith. Therefore prayer and praise.

II. THE SHOCK (vers. 26-28). Not only were the walls shaken, but the jailer's heart. Certainly at first a shock of anguish and despair. But eternal love watches and prevails. The comforting word. "We are all here." Hope returns; but he wishes to see his fortune and to grasp it with his hands (ver. 29).

III. THE GREAT QUESTION (vers. 30-82). It is not entirely unpremeditated. Already the praying apostles have caused the presentiment of something higher to rise in him. Perhaps also earlier experiences in his dismal employment. The earthquake has ripened the slumbering seed. The apostles have not fled. How secure and happy they must be! What must I do that I may be the same? The great life question finds also a great life answer. There is one answer. Without Christ no one is saved; through Him all may be saved.

IV. THE FIRST LOVE (vers. 33, 34). What is it? The attempt to make a return for what has been received — to do good to Christ in His servants.

(Lisco.)

I. A QUIET CHAPEL OF PRAYER (ver. 25).

II. AN ALARMING PLACE OF JUDGMENT (vers. 26-29).

III. A WHOLESOME SCHOOL OF REPENTANCE (vers. 30, 31).

IV. A BROTHERLY HOUSE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE AND COMPASSION (vers. 32, 33).

V. A BLESSED BIRTHPLACE OF THE NEW LIFE (ver. 34).

(K. Gerok.)

I. STRANGE PLACES MAY BE CHANGED INTO CHURCHES. If in many cases desecration has taken place, many surprising instances of consecration have also occurred. We might turn every place into a praying ground. The teaching of this immediate lesson is that distressing, harmful, and threatening circumstances may be turned into ladders up to heaven. What are you doing in your unusual circumstances — moaning, groaning, complaining? Paul and Silas "sang praises." Such men, therefore, never could be in prison. Christians ought never to be in any circumstances which they cannot turn into sacramental occasions.

II. CHRISTIAN WORKERS AND WORSHIPPERS MAY HAVE UNEXPECTED OBSERVERS AND LISTENERS. It is always exactly so.

1. You do not speak without being listened to; you do not go to church without being observed. The preacher speaks to his immediate congregation, but he knows not who is listening in the vestibule. "And the prisoners were listening." They never heard such music before! They had been accustomed to profane language; to violent and complaining exclamations; but here is a new spirit in the house. It is so at home. Passing the room door, we pause a moment to hear some sweet voice in prayer or praise, and it follows the life like a pleading angel.

2. What is true on the one side is true on the other. The unjust judgment you passed was listened to by your children, and they will grow up to repeat your cynicism.

III. IT IS POSSIBLE QUIETLY AND EVEN THANKFULLY, TO ACCEPT ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE. Nothing must interfere with the religious sacrifice. Are we in prison? We may have to alter the hour of worship, but not the worship itself. Are we in an uncongenial atmosphere? We may have to wait until the company has broken up before communion with the Father; but it is only waiting. Show me a Christian who does not complain. Where is the ancient joy? May the old days come again! When they come Christians will accept poverty or wealth, life or death, bleak March or warm June, with thankfulness, saying, "This is the best for me; I live not in circumstance, but in faith."

IV. THIS IS A FULL RELIGIOUS SERVICE. "But there was no preaching," you say. Yes, there was; for we may preach by singing. But, even in a more direct and literal sense, preaching was added to prayer and praise. The earthquake took place, and the jailer, with his house, became a congregation to which Paul and Silas did, in the literal sense of the term, preach. So that night they had a full service — prayer, praise, preaching, and conversion.

V. Look at THIS CONVERSION OF THE JAILER.

1. It took place under circumstances which may well be described as "exciting." Have we not been unjust to what is called "religious excitement"? But are the circumstances to blame, or ourselves? We like quietness — deadness; we do not like to be "excited," because the devil has chloroformed us into a state of insensibility. Jesus Christ did not rebuke the excitement which followed His ministry; when others would have had Him rebuke them, He said, "I tell you that if these held their peace, the very stones would cry out."

2. Happily the incident does not end here. To excitement was added the necessary element of instruction (ver. 32). Tears in the eyes that are not followed by activities in the hand harden the very heart which for the moment they softened. We shall be the worse for every revival that ends in itself. Times of revival must be followed by times of study. We might get up such services as these almost every day in the week. If we prayed and praised in every prison into which our life is thrust, we should be heard by strange listeners, we should be interrogated by strange inquirers, and doors of usefulness would be opened in the very granite which apparently shuts us in.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Here we see it —

I. ELEVATING THE SPIRIT ABOVE THE GREATEST TRIALS (ver. 25). What gives religion this power.

1. Faith in the Divine superintendence. The apostles knew that they were not here by accident or chance, but that the whole was under the wise and kind control of the Eternal Father. This is consoling. Job felt this. "He knoweth the way that I take," etc.

2. Consciousness of God's approval. The "well done" of Heaven echoed within, and set all to music. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God," etc.

3. The thought of Christ's trials in comparison with their own.

4. Assurance of a glorious deliverance. "Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment," etc. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared," etc. He who has this religion can find a paradise in a dungeon.

II. ENSURING THE INTERPOSITION OF GOD (ver. 26). While caring for all God takes special care of the good.

1. Reason would suggest this, viz., that the Eternal Spirit would feel a greater interest in mind than in matter; that the Eternal Father in His offspring than in His mere workmanship; that the Source of love and holiness in those who participate in His own moral attributes than in those who do not.

2. The Bible teaches this.(1) In explicit declarations. "To that man will I look," etc. "As a father pitieth his children," etc. "Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field," etc.(2) In the biography of the good. Did He not specially interpose on behalf of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles? If necessary He will make the heavens rain bread, and the rock out-pour refreshing streams. He will divide the sea, and stop the mouth of lions.

III. CAPACITATING THE SOUL FOR THE HIGHEST USEFULNESS. The Philippian jailer —

1. Was prevented from self-destruction. The voice of Christianity to man is, "Do thyself no harm" of any kind. The good are ever useful in preventing evil.

2. Was directed to true safety. His question indicates a complex state of mind. He had regard not only to material and civil deliverance, but to spiritual and eternal. The question implies a sense of peril, and a sense of the necessity of individual effort. Something must be done. Paul, without circumlocution and delay, answers, "Believe," etc. Believe on Him as the Representative of God's love for the sinner, as the Atoner to God's character, as the Guide to God's heaven.

3. Experienced a delightful change (vers. 33, 34). The ruffian who "thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks," now tenderly washes their "stripes," and entertains them with pious hospitality. The terror-struck soul who sprang in, in utmost horror, is now full of joy and faith (ver. 34).

IV. INVESTING THE SOUL WITH THE TRUEST INDEPENDENCY (ver. 35, etc.). This is seen —

1. In their superiority to the fear of man. As soon as they were miraculously delivered from prison, they might have hurried away from such a scene of enemies; but they remained, although the magistrates gave them liberty to depart. They were not afraid. They could chant the 46th psalm.

2. In refusing great benefits, because offered on improper grounds. We will not accept as a favour what we demand as a right. A good man will refuse liberty, social influence, wealth, unless they can be honourably and righteously obtained.

3. In triumphing over their enemies. The tyrants became fawning suppliants at the feet of their prisoners. Such is Christian piety at first displayed in Europe, and in a prison. Piety is not that weak, simpering thing which often passes for it. It is the mightiest force on earth. True Christians have not received "the spirit of fear, but of love, power, and of a sound mind."

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

On losing a battle in that neighbourhood, Cassius, "the last of the Romans," hid himself in his tent, and bade his freedmen strike, while Brutus, in his sullen desperation, fell upon his sword. But, so far from drooping and murmuring, and calling God to account, who had beckoned them to Europe, and yet had permitted them to be so "shamefully entreated"; so far from resolving to desert a Master who had not protected them, or deeming the vision at Troas a lure to draw them on to stripes and a dungeon, "Paul and Silas" prayed, and not only poured out their hearts in supplication, but "sang praises unto God," and that in no whispered melody, for "the prisoners heard them."

(Prof. Eadie.)

And the prisoners heard them
Though the speakers were bound, the Word was free; not only the Word that went upward to the throne of God, but also the echo of the Word, that pierced the gloomy partition walls and sank into the startled ears of wretched prisoners. It seemed a roundabout road that the gospel took to reach these Gentiles; but it did not miss its way. There was a dead wall between the apostles and their audience, and therefore they did not preach that night. But there was no wall between them and the Father of their spirits: praying they hymned God, and the prayer sent upward fell down again on the other side of the partition, falling there on listening ears. In this circuitous method the gospel reached some needy souls. It is thus that in modern warfare they often overcome a fortress which is too strong to be taken by direct assault. The wall frowns thick and high between the defenders and the assailants. No missile sent in a direct line can touch the protected garrison. The besiegers in such a case throw their balls high into the heavens; these fall within the enclosure and do their work. When a good soldier of Jesus Christ cannot by direct preaching reach men, he may by prayer and praise. Christians travelling in Romish or otherwise darkened districts, might in this way scatter blessings in their track. And so might those who live in benighted neighbourhoods.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

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