William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

A Brief Sketch of the Life of Christopher Love

by Christopher Fales

I. Introduction

The age of the Puritans is littered with many shining
lights who suffered much or accomplished much for the sake of
Christ. Among the role call of Puritan giants one would no doubt run
across the names of men such as Jeremiah Burroughs, Richard Baxter,
John Flavel, Richard Sibbes, Thomas Watson, Thomas Vincent, and
William Ames. Yet, there is one name that is often left absent from
this list altogether or little spoken of: Christopher Love. Loves
life was cut short at the age of thirty three and perhaps that is a
reason we know little of him. Despite his short life, his written
works far surpass the amount written by many other Puritan Divines
whose names are familiar to most. It may be the case that his life
was not as significant in history as was his death. The purpose of
this paper is to take a glance at the life and death of this young
Puritan of whom J. I. Packer said, Christopher Love was a brilliant
young Welsh preacher and a rising star in the world of Puritan

II. The Life of Christopher Love

A. His Early Life

The year was 1618 and Christopher Love was born into the
world in Cardiff, an ancient city in Wales. He was the youngest of
his parents brood but he was the child of their old age and the
bearer of his fathers name. Little did they know that his life
would span only a mere thirty-three years and end abruptly at the
scaffold of Tower Hill.

His parents were neither rich nor poor and were thus
able to provide for him a good education, although they never
intended him to enter the ministry. In his childhood Love developed
a passion for books and for learning, devoting much of his time,
both night and day, to his beloved studies.[2]

Before the age of fifteen Christopher Love had never
heard a sermon. One day, for the entertaining novelty of it, he went
to a service with some others to see a man in the pulpit, a Mr.
William Erbery. Yet, through the sermon God gave Love such a view to
his sinfulness that he went home that night in deep sorrow and fear
of hell. By the time he reached his home the Lord had saved Love
through His love. The change that took place during the walk home
was so apparent that his father immediately took notice of it.
Seeing his son in such a state of melancholy Mr. Love, Sr. advised
his son to join his comrades at a gentlemans club for their usual
game. But Christopher Love would have no part in his former sinful

Upon the next day Love begged leave of his father that
he might attend the lecture that evening at the church. His father
adamantly refused him and locked him in the high chamber of the
house. Love escaped out the window by means of a makeshift rope and
made his way to the church. He though it better to displease his
earthly father that to offend his new heavenly Father. Such was the
courage for Gods word that would lead him to his eventual death
eighteen years later.[4]

Love found fellowship with Mr. Erbery and poured forth
his heart to him. Many of his friends with whom he used to enjoy
vices had also come to faith in Christ and now they often gathered
together in the late hours of the night for prayer and fasting,
setting apart two nights a week for their devotional exercise. Once
called a gambler, he was now called a little puritan. All of this
brought much grief to his father. Seeing the fathers new disdain
for his son, Mr. Erbery requested permission to have young
Christopher Love live with him that he might further instruct him in
his education and take proper care of him. Mr. Love consented.[5]

B. His Studies and Early Ministries

Life with Mr. Erbery worked out nicely. In time he took
his leave to attend studies at Oxford in preparation for a life in
the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His father consented,
but with much displeasure. The only support his father gave was a
horse on which he could ride to Oxford. However, his mother secretly
supplied him with a little financial assistance. Mr. Erbery also
endeavored to assist the lad. Upon his arrival at Oxford on July 29,
1635 [6] he choose Mr. Christopher Rogers as his tutor. Rogers had
been described to Love as the arch-puritan[7] and thus was the
reason for his selection. Love threw himself full force into his
studies, often depriving himself of sleep and recreation. Yet, there
remained for some time during this period in his life a sorrow for
the years he had spent in sin. His heart was greatly burdened and
with few friends to turn to for comfort he learned to turn to the
grace of God. Through it all Love developed a zeal for Gods word
and church. He spent hours at Saint Peters Church listening to
sermon and many more so preaching them as well, honing his gift.[8]

Christopher Love excelled in his studies to the degree
that Rogers, his tutor, invited him to live in his own home. In May
of 1639 Love graduated with his B.A. and stayed on to pursue his
M.A. but was expelled before he reached this level. His expulsion
was due to his refusal to sign Archbishop Lauds mandates during
convocation. He was later readmitted in 1645 and went on to receive
his M.A. Love was the first to refuse to sign Lauds new canons.[9]

During the time of his expulsion, Love was invited into
the home of Sheriff Warner to serve as a domestic chaplain. The
family grew to love him deeply and he was use of God to bring
several members of the household to faith in Christ.[10] It was in
that home that Love found his beloved Mary Stone, the ward of the
Sheriff. Six years latter (April 9, 1645) they married. Love was
also invited to fill the position as lecturer at Saint Annes but
the bishop of London so vehemently opposed him because he was not
ordained that for three years that he was refused his
allowance.[11] Refusing to be ordained by the Anglican Church, he
journeyed into Scotland to seek the rite from the Presbyterians.
Unfortunately, the Scots had determined not to ordain anyone to the
ministry unless they were going to remain in the north to carry out
the work of the Lord. Mr. Love was made great offers to settle among
them but instead he went home disappointed.[12]

Upon his return he was invited to the pulpit at
Newcastle on a Lords Day. In his sermon he attacked the Book of
Common Prayer and the rituals of the Church of England. For this he
was imprisoned with thieves and murderers. While jailed many folks
flocked to see him but were not admitted to visit him; therefore, he
began to preach to the crowds outside through the bars of prison
gate. After some time in incarceration he was taken to London, was
tried, and acquitted of all charges.[13]

Some time later, he was accused of treason and rebellion
for preaching the justification of a defensive war. Again he was
found innocent. Shortly after this incident he was made the chaplain
to the garrison of Windsor, which was under the command of Colonel
John Veen. He was greatly loved by those to whom he ministered, even
by those who disagreed with him on the matters of the church. While
ministering at this post a plague struck the town and castle. As
many died around him, Love courageously stayed on to minister.
Though he exposed himself to infections and the dying, the Lord
preserved him.[14]

C. His Ordination and Latter Ministry

In time the Presbyterians came into power of the
government. This gave Love the opportunity for ordination which he
had so heartily longed. At the instigation of Edmund Calamy,[15]
Christopher Love was ordained on January 23, 1644 in the
Aldermanbury Church by Mr. Horton, Mr. Bellers and Mr. Roberts.
During his ordination examination he was asked the question as to
whether he could suffer for the truths of Christ. He answered, I
tremble to think of what I should do in such a case, especially when
I consider how many have boasted what they could suffer for Christ;
and yet, when have come to it, they have denied Christ and his
truths, rather than suffer for them. Therefore, I dare not boast
what I shall do, but if this power be given me of God, then I shall
not only be willing to be bound, but to die for the sake of the Lord
Jesus.[16] Reverend Christopher Love went on to fulfill these words
at Tower Hill.

During the next few years Love preached sternly against
the episcopacy and the Common Prayer Book which he referred to as
the two plague-sores.[17] For three years he lectured at St.
Anns, Aldergate, which was about two hundred yards from Saint
Lawrence Jewry, where Love went on to minister for the remaining
years of his life (1649-1651). He had many of his works published;
many of which found there way into the library of such great men of
God as Jonathan Edwards.[18] Most of his writings where sermons
taken from his notes and printed posthumourously by Edmond
Calamy.[19] Although chosen as a member of the Westminster Divines
he was for the most part inactive in that arena. Twice he had the
opportunity to preach at an assembly of Parliament.[20]

D. His Family Life

Mary Love proved to be a wife worthy of such a godly
man. For someone to read her memoirs and letters to her husband
while he was imprisoned one could not help but to be inspired by her
holiness and nearness to God. Together they had five children in
all. Their first, a daughter named Mary, died only a few days after
her birth. A second girl was born to them on July 27, 1647, who also
bore the name Mary. Like the first, she lived a short life, dying on
May 14, 1650.[21] On December 15, 1648, Christopher Love was born as
to them, their first son. In a prison letter to his wife, Rev. Love
mentioned two other boys, Mall and James. James, who was born just
thirteen days after his fathers execution, lived less than seven
months. Mrs. Love lived to see many of her beloved family members
perish before her, yet her faith was unswerving. She recounted her
husband as being a family man. He once told his wife that now that
he had a family of his own, he made a little nursery for God,
resolving that . . . his family should be among the number of those
who know God and call upon His name.[22] Recalling her husbands
study life she explained that he never thought he had enough time
for his studies and he disliked diversions from them.[23] She
believed these rigorous studies took their toll on his health.

E. Loves Plot

Christopher Love had often been involved in politics. He
was once put under house arrest for a short period because he
preached a sermon against a peace treaty agreement that was in the
works. He accused the sides of wanting peace for wicked reasons.
Love stated that he would rather have a just war than a wicked
peace. This sermon was preached before the delegates of the peace
treaty. Rev. Love had offended them all.[24]

Shortly after this King Charles was beheaded by order of
the Parliament for the crime of treason against the nation. Oliver
Cromwell took the office of Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.
Cromwell was a Presbyterian turned Independent. Love, along with a
great multitude of others, were outraged at this execution because
they believed that God established kings on the throne and no one
was to take them off of that throne. On New Years Day of 1651, the
Scots held the coronation of Charles II, son of the executed king.
Their plan was to reestablish the monarchy through force. During the
coronation Charles II made a vow that when enthroned he would set up
the Presbyterian Church in England and confessed the sins of his
forefathers.[25] While Scotland endeavored to raise their forces,
secret correspondence was conducted with a group of English
Presbyterians. The English Presbyterians assured Charles II that
they would side with him when he made an attempt at the crown. An
effort was made by many gentlemen (disbanded officers who had served
Parliament during the war) and ministers to raise funds to finance
Charles IIs campaign. Thomas Coke, the son of the late Kings
secretary, was captured by Parliament and yielded information
concerning the English Presbyterians support of Charles II in
exchange for his life. The plan was found out and on May 2, 1651
the men involved were arrested. Among the ministers incarcerated
were: Dr. Roger Drake, William Jenkyn, Arthur Jackson, Ralph
Robinson, Thomas Watson, William Blackmore, Matthew Haviland, Thomas
Case, and Christopher Love. Six of these men petitioned for mercy
and vowed to refrain from opposing the government. Love was retained
to be an example. He was charged with high treason and the
conspiracy he was accused of partaking in came to be known as
Loves Plot. For the next few weeks he was kept locked in the
London Tower. At first he wrote two sermons a week in preparation to
preach once again upon release. Despite his desperate situation his
spirits remained high. A depth of joy that had been previously
unknown filled him as he communed with God, Whom he would soon see
face to face.[26]

F. His Trial

On June 20, 1651, Love was brought before the High Court
of Justice and was read his charges. When asked what his plea would
be, Love embarked on a lengthy disputation seeking the prayers of
the godly and announcing that I am this day made a spectacle unto
God, angels, and men.[27] Interrupted by the Attorney General, Love
was asked to give a brief guilty or not guilty plea. Love stated
that he desired to speak first before giving his plea but was
informed that the law required a plea before one was permitted to
speak. He refused then to enter a plea until he was permitted to
speak and, although he claimed legal ignorance, he cited many other
court hearings that contradicted the assertions of the high court,
even appealing to a well known and used law text of the time. Love
went on to even question the legality of his trial based upon the
omission of Scotland in the Act of 1650 and on the fact that he was
being charged for crimes against that act that were said to have
been committed in 1648 and 1649. Legally he could not be charged
retroactively. Eventually Love declared that if he were to make a
plea before the court, which he deemed an illegal one, he would, in
effect, be admitting some guilt. Finally, Love gave up his plea once
he was threatened to be judged despite the lack of a plea from the
defendant. Not guilty.[28]

Witnesses were then called to testify. They consisted of
the men arrested with Love. Arthur Jackson, when called to testify,
refused to swear a statement against his friend because Love was a
man very precious in the sight of God.[29] He said, I fear I
should have a hell in my conscience to my dying day, if I should
speak any thing circumstantially prejudicial to his life.[30]
Jackson was fined five hundred pounds and imprisoned indefinitely.
On the second day of the trial John Jacquel took the stand and
implicated the above mentioned Puritan ministers. Later Jacquel
wrote Love a letter of repentance before he was executed. When the
third day of the trail arrived Love made his defense. He denied the
testimony of the witnesses because they contradicted themselves
continuously, and that they had been threatened with their lives
into testifying. Jacquls testimony was inadmissible, he said,
because he had not taken an oath before giving it. No letters of
correspondence to the Prince or to the Scots had been produced and
hence, no evidence. Finally, Love admitted to being present at the
reading of some letters but not to sending them or to any
treacherous intentions. After five days of deliberations, the court
went into recess for a day. On the sixth day the court came back
with the verdict of guilty as charged. Christopher Love was
sentenced to suffer the pains of death by having his head severed
from his body.[31] Love replied back to his judge, I have received
the sentence of death in myself, that I should not trust in myself,
but in God which raiseth the dead. And, my lord, though you have
condemned me, yet this I can say, that neither God, nor my own
conscience, doth condemn me.[32] He was then taken back to the
Tower to await his day of execution.

III. The Death of Love
A. His Final Days

While awaiting the day he was to stand upon the
scaffold, many attempts were made to free him through letters
written by a multitude of ministers, Mary Love, and even Christopher
Love that were sent to Parliament. His execution date was moved back
a month from the original date of July 16th and then again held off
for another week. This was done in order to allow Parliament to read
all of the petitions sent to them for Loves freedom. By this time
Charles II had entered into English land at the head of a mighty
Scottish army. An example to the English Presbyterians was needed to
warn them of what would happen to all who might oppose Parliament in
favor of Charles II. One of their own and most beloved clergy must
die; Love was to be the example. Letters were sent to Cromwell to
see if he would enact a stay of execution. Historians Kennet and
Echard[33] reported that Cromwell sent a letter stating that if Love
would resign himself to good behavior in the future then he was to
be pardoned and set free. The letter never made it to London. Two
cavaliers who had belonged to the late kings army detained the
courier. The two had such a hatred for Love (due to a sermon he
preached some years before) that when they found the letter of
reprieval, they tore it to pieces. When the letter did not arrive,
it was understood to mean that there would be no pardon.[34]

Many are the beautiful and deeply spiritual letters that
were sent to Love and by Love. Puritan ministers wrote to encourage
him in his final hours and to beseech his prayers. Mary Loves
letters are almost impossible to read without shedding a tear. Her
love for Christopher was true and deep. Yet, her love for God was
greater. She stands as an example to all ministers wives. She
encourages and commends her husband into the hands of God.

B. Christopher and Mary Bid Farewell for the Last Time

On the eve of his execution Mary Love was at the Tower
prison to say good-bye for the last time to her beloved husband.
With these words he comforted her:

Be not troubled to think what shall become of thee and thine after
my death, for be assured that my God, and the God of the widows and
the fatherless, will not forsake thee, but will wonderfully provide
for those and be comforted in this, that tho men take thy husband
from thee, they cannot take thy God from thee; and so, do not think
that thou hast lost thy husband, but only parted with him for
awhile, and in the meantime thy Savour will be a husband unto thee
and a father unto thy children.[35]

Then they prayed together for the last time. He asked her not to be
dismayed when she did not hear him mention her in his final prayer
in this world while he stood on the scaffold the next day. I cannot
do it, he said, but natural affections do arise that will not be
suitable for the place, but be assured that the last words that I
shall speak in this room shall be to God for those and thine.[36]

When she insisted on sending him a supper the next day he accepted
for her sake, though he did not wish to trouble her, and added that
he would not need it for within a few hours I shall have a blessed
supper, the supper of the Bridegroom, where I shall sit down with
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and know hunger and thirst and sorrow no
more.[37] Love was ready to see his Lord and confident that he
would. As soon as my head is severed from my body, it shall be
united with Christ my Head in heaven.[38]

C. His Execution Day, His Glorification Day

At two oclock in the afternoon on Friday, August 22,
1651, Christopher Love ascended the steps to the platform of the
scaffold at Tower Hill. Accompanying him were some of his fellow
ministers, Edmund Calamy, Simeon Ashe, and Thomas Watson, who were
there to stand with him before he stepped into Paradise. The
scaffold was surrounded by a huge crowd that had shown up either to
see one last time the face of this beloved saint of God, or to watch
this thorn in the side have his blood spilt. One report said that a
particular man in the crowd who had come for the second reason, upon
hearing the final words and prayer of Love he bewailed his sins and
was converted there that day as Love died.[39]

Upon receiving leave to speak to the crowd and to pray,
Love opened his moth and poured out his final words spoken on earth.
With eloquent words he expressed his longing for the eternity that
was to greet him shortly. There is but two steps between me and
glory. It is but lying down upon the block that I shall ascend upon
a throne. I am exchanging a pulpit for a scaffold and a scaffold for
a throne. I am exchanging a guard of soldiers for a guard of angels,
to carry me to Abrahams bosom.[40] He then went on to briefly
answer the charges for which he was now being executed and explained
his position. Love stated that he bore no ill toward any. With his
last word he desired to speak of the glory of God rather than
himself. Expressing his pastoral heart even at this point of death,
he warned the peoples of the evils of the time and in London. To the
city he urged them on to love their ministers, to submit to their
church leadership, to keep faithful to the Scriptures and be weary
of strange doctrines, to bewail the loss of the godly ministers who
have recently been martyred, and to seek peace (particularly with
the brothers of Scotland). Next, he expressed his love toward and
gratitude for his congregation. Believing that his death would
glorify God he said, I do more good by my death that by my life,
and glorify God more in my dying upon a scaffold than if I had died
of a disease upon my bed.[41] Giving glory to God, he recounted his
conversion ant the age of fifteen and praised Him for the grace
extended to him that he should be chosen to be His.[42]

Concluding his sermon he then requested and gained
permission to pray. Love prayed for his accusers, for England and
Scotland to be one, and for the future King Charles II. Also, he
prayed for a friend who was to be executed after him. He closed by
begging God for strength to complete his task in these final moments
and by committing his spirit into the hands of God.[43]

Love thanked the sheriff for his kindness and said,
Well, I go from a block to the bosom of my Savior.[44] Turning to
another man on the scaffold he asked, Art thou the officer? Yes,
replied back the executioner. Love then tipped him three pence
wrapped in paper, which was the custom to encourage the man to do a
clean job with one blow. Blessing the name of Jesus, he then took
leave of his fellow ministers on the scaffold with him after praying
with them. I am full of joy and peace in believing. I lie down with
a world of comfort as if I were to lie down in my bed.[45] As he
prepared to lay his head upon the block Mr. Ashe called out to him,
Dear brother, how dost thou find thy heart? Love replied, I bless
God, sir, I am full of joy and comfort as ever my heart can

Then Christopher Love uttered his final words, Blessed
be God for Jesus Christ and knelt down and laid his head upon the
block. He stretched forth his hands. The blade was raised and
lowered. Christopher Love entered into Paradise and saw his Lord
Jesus face to face. His head and his body, quickly put back together
by the attending doctor, were put into a coffin and taken to his
home, where he remained for three days.[47]

D. Aftermath and Praises

Upon learning that a solemn funeral was to be held for
Love the Council of the State wrote to the Mayor of London
commanding that the plans for the procession and burial be thwarted.
Love was buried privately in the cemetery of his church. Thomas
Manton preached his funeral sermon, even though soldiers threatened
to shoot him.[48] The soldiers showed up and clashed their arms
and scowled, and muttered, but did not proceed in further
violence.[49] Manton was determined to make the matter known, so he
published his sermon under the title The Saints Triumph Over
Death.[50] Thus in the very heart of London, writes Marsden, was
Loves memory avenged in the most solemn manner, and the
commonwealth as openly defied. In the message Love is never
mentioned by name and is not even alluded to until the last
paragraph where Manton praises Love for his ministry and sound
doctrine. He encourages Loves congregation not to let their pastor

Speaking of her late husband, Mary Love said, He lived
too much in heaven to live too long out of heaven; and sure I am
that he live a life of heaven on earth. His fellowship was with the
Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.[52]

In the letter to the reader that introduces Loves book
of sermons entitled The Mortified Christian, Calamy states that the
author is sufficiently known and approved; his works praise him in
the gates. He was indeed a workman who needed not to be ashamed. He
was not a blazing comet to show his own parts, but a genuine star to
lead men to Christ.[53] Later he went on to say, We who had the
happiness to be better aquatinted with him can truly say that he did
not preach himself, but Jesus Christ his Lord, and himself the
churchs servant for Jesus sake.[54]

IV. Conclusion

Although his life was short, its impact was felt in many
ways and for some time to come. Most of Christopher Loves writings
have now been reprinted through Soli Deo Gloria Ministries and is
today encouraging and instructing a new generation of Puritans that
are looking back to the old wells of the faith. All of the current
reprints now sit on this authors shelf as a part of his personal
library. It has been often that the life and sermons of Love have
been used of the Lord to motivate, teach, and comfort this writers
soul. This writer is greatly thankful to the Lord for raising up
such men as Christopher Love as and example to all Christians, of
all ages.



Brooks, Benjamin. Lives of the Puritans, Vol. III. Morgan: Soli Deo
Gloria, 1996.

Hulse, Erroll. Who Are the Puritans? . . . And What Do They Teach?.
Auburn: Evangelical Press, 2000.

Kistler, Don. A Specticle Unto God. Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994.

Love,Christopher. Grace: The Truth, Growth, and Different Degrees.
Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997.
----The Dejected Souls Cure. Morgan: Soli Deo
Gloria, 2001.
----The Mortified Christian. Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria,

Manton, Thomas. The Works of Thomas Manton, Vol. II. London: James
Nibs & Co., 1871.

Marsden, J. B. The History of the Latr Puritans. London: Hamilton,
Adams, & Co.

Stowell, W. H. A History of the Puritans and Pilgrim Fathers. New
York: Worthington Co., 1888.

Wilson, John F. Pulpit in Parliament. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1969.

[1] Christopher Love, Grace: The Truth, Growth, and Different
Degrees (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997), Cover.
[2] Benjamin Brooks, Lives of the Puritans, Vol. III (Morgan: Soli
Deo Gloria, 1996), 115.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Brooks, 116.
[5] Kistler, 7-8.
[6] Don Kistler, A Specticle Unto God (Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria,
1994), 17.
[7] Brooks, 117.
[8] Kistler, 16-17, 28; Brooks, 117-118.
[9] Kistler, 27; Brooks, 118.
[10] Brooks 118.
[11] Brooks, 119
[12]Kistler, 33; Brooks, 119.
[13] Kistler, 34.
[14] Kistler, 34-35; Brooks, 119-120.
[15] Kistler, 35. Calamy was responsible for having many of Loves
works printed after his death.
[16]Kistler, 36.
[17] Brooks, 121.
[18] Kistler, vii.
[19] Christopher Love, The Dejected Souls Cure (Morgan: Soli Deo
Gloria, 2001), v.
[20] John F. Wilson, Pulpit in Parliament (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1969), 130, 248-9.
[21] Kistler, 37.
[22] Kistler, 41-42.
[23] Kistler, 42.
[24] Brooks, 120-121.
[25] Kistler, 50-51.
[26] Kistler, 52-56; Brooks, 122.
[27] Kistler, 65.
[28] Kistler, 63-67; Brooks, 122-123.
[29] Kistler, 68.
[30] Brooks, 123.
[31] Kistler, 69.
[32] Brooks, 127.
[33] W. H. Stowell, A History of the Puritans and Pilgrim Fathers
(New York: Worthington Co., 1888), 288.
[34] Brooks, 129.
[35] Kistler, 94.
[36] Kistler, 94.
[37] Ibid.
[38] Kistler , 95.
[39] Kistler, 107.
[40] Brooks, 132.
[41] Kistler, 125.
[42] Ibid.
[43] Kistler, 128-131; Brooks, 136.
[44] Kistler, 131.
[45] Kistler, 131.
[46] Brooks, 136.
[47] Kistler, 132.
[48] Erroll Hulse, Who Are the Puritans? . . . And What Do They
Teach? (Auburn: Evangelical Press, 2000), 92.
[49] J. B. Marsden, The History of the Latr Puritans (London:
Hamilton, Adams, & Co.), 342.
[50] Marsden, 342.
[51] Thomas Manton, The Works of Thomas Manton, Vol. II (London:
James Nibs & Co., 1871), 453-454.
[52] Brooks, 138.
[53] Christopher Love, The Mortified Christian (Morgan: Soli Deo
Gloria, 1998), v.
[54] Ibid.


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