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"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

... Religious Worship of God
  1. The reading of the Scriptures1 preaching, and hearing the Word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as also the administration of baptism, and the Lord's Supperare all parts of religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover, solemn humiliation, with fastings, and thanksgivings, upon special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner. 7 
    1. Acts 15:21; 1 Tim. 4:13; Rev. 1:3
    2. 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 2:42; 10:42; 14:7; Rom. 10:14-17; 1Cor. 9:16
    3. Eph 5:19; Col. 3:16
    4. Matt. 28:19-20
    5. 1 Cor. 11:26
    6. Esther 4:16; Joel 2:12; Matt. 9:15; Acts 13:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:5
    7. Exod. 15:1-19; Ps. 107

The Confession goes on to enlist elements or aspects of the religious worship of God. The readingpreaching, and hearing the Word of God (Acts 15:21; 2Tim. 4:2, 13; Rev. 1:3) is an essential part of the religious worship of God since in this we have God speaking to us. We are also to teach and admonish each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs based on Colossians 3:16 (cf. Eph. 5:19). Baptism and the Lord's Supper are likewise parts of the religious worship of God. All these things are to be performed in obedience to God, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear similar to what was said of natural worship in paragraph 1. The Confession finally touches upon solemn humiliation, with fastings and thanksgivings. These are to be performed upon special occasions and should be used in a holy and religious manner. Scripture is full of examples of this: in the time of Esther (Est. 4:16); for Paul (Acts 13:2-3); for appointing elders (Acts 14:23).

The elements of worship refer to what worship actually is. As Challies was quoted saying above, they are the “what” of worship. They are the essence of the true and acceptable worship of God. Our Confession lists in this paragraph 5 points, but I believe that an additional point must be added which was treated in paragraphs 3-4—prayer—is likewise an element of worship. In fact, it is called “one part of natural worship” in paragraph 3, so how much more it is an element and a part of acceptable and revealed worship. Therefore, I will try to provide a brief biblical testimony to the six elements of Reformed Worship.

1. The Reading Of The Scriptures

It is essential, especially in this age of ignorance of God’s Word, to have the Scriptures read at Church. Many so-called Christians do not read their Bibles, know very little of it, read only the parts they like and misuse the Holy Scriptures. God has given us His Word as a guide and light for our lives. His Word is the rule and measuring rod of our life. We should live our lives in accordance with what we learn from the Holy Scriptures and do that which is pleasing to God. But if we are ignorant of the Word, how should we do this? Therefore, careful attention should be given to the public reading of Scripture in the Church.

The Apostle Paul in instructing the young elder Timothy, tells him: “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1Tim. 4:13). The Greek word for read is used in Acts 13:15; 2 Corinthians 3:14 and in these instances is meant the public reading of Scripture. Jamieson, Fausset, Brown note concerning the word “reading”:

especially in the public congregation. The re...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

...he Lord Whom He has given to us, which sets the people of God apart from the reprobate. As for those using Romans 4:11 to argue that baptism now is the seal of the covenant I direct above to my exegesis of the text. See also chapter 29 on this question.

As for the sign or signs of the covenant, I argue in chapter 29 that the signs of the New Covenant are baptism and the Lord's Supper. Circumcision is not replaced by baptism, rather, circumcision is fulfilled by the circumcision of the heart. Need I mention, that therefore, only those in the New Covenant are entitled to the Covenant sacraments and promises?


First things first, I must ask for forgiveness because I said that I would like to keep this short, but failed miserably. I actually enjoyed this study of Covenant Theology that took me something like a month or more to finish writing [aside from later repeatedly updating it]. I had to revisit a lot of books that I've read on Baptist Covenant Theology to check how things were. I tried to use the Scriptures and explain the Scriptures as much as possible, since I believe often with the study of Covenant Theology, I do not hear much Scripture but names of men who have stood on both sides (Westminster and 1689), while that is great and encouraging, I wanted to focus on the Scripture. Not to deny that I've benefited a lot from reading Owen obviously and made me stronger 1689 Federalist than I was beginning this study.

What sets 1689 Federalism apart is our insistence that the Covenant of Grace was not established, enacted and “cut” any time before the death of Christ. The Covenant of Grace did indeed exist since Genesis 3:15, but it did exist in the form of a promise, not an established covenant. Every covenant of God did shadow and typify it and contained promises concerning it, but was not an administration of it. The Covenant of Grace was established, ratified, enacted and "cut" in the blood of Christ and in the New Covenant. We believe that the Covenant of Grace was established and cut in the New Covenant, thus, the Covenant of Grace is the retroactive New Covenant. Lastly, this is diagram is from Pascal Denault's work which represents the 1689 Federalist understanding of the Covenant of Grace as being revealed by farther steps but was concluded and established in the New Covenant/Testament.

1689 Federalist Covenant Theology Diagram


“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,

(Jeremiah 31:31)

[updated 19/07/2018]


  1. ^ Many Scriptural references have been supplied by Samuel Waldron's Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
  2. ^ Wikipedia. Covenant Theology
  3. ^ Theopedia. Covenant
  4. ^ Nehemiah Coxe in Nehemiah Coxe & John Owen. Covenant Theology: From Adam To Christ. Edited by Ronald D. Miller, James M. Renihan, Francisco Orozco. (Palmdale, CA: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2005). p. 36.
  5. ^ Cited in Recovering A Covenantal Heritage: Essays In Baptist Covenant Theology. Edited by Richard C. Barcellos. (Palmdale, CA: RBAP, 2014). p. 230, n. 10.
  6. ^ Arthur W. Pink. The Divine Covenants. (Memphis, TN: Bottom of the Hill Publishing, 2011). p. 26.
  7. ^ Richard C. Barcellos. Getting the Garden Right: Adam's Work and God's Rest in Light of Christ. (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2017). pp. 56-66.
  8. ^ Coxe, Covenant Theology. pp. 36-37.
  9. ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary


cf. Isa. 14:27.

Can the purpose of God for Christ to save His people fail to accomplish its intended goal without destroying the power and intention of God? Such thoughts are blasphemous and are unworthy of anyone who bears the name of Christ. We not only see the purpose of the atonement here but also its extent. It is not extended to all men everywhere, but it is extended as far as those who belong among “his people.” He is born for the specific purpose of saving His people from their sins. He was born to die.

Why was Christ's precious blood spilled? Matthew records the Lord's words when He instituted the Lord's Supper

Matt. 26:27-28 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins

cf. Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20.

The purpose that the precious blood of Christ was poured out was to forgive the sins of many. Schaff comments on the last portion of the verse as follows:

Which is shed (or ‘being shed’) for many unto remission of sins. Our Lord here declares, with reference to His own death, that it was an actual dying for others, to the end that their sins might be pardoned. That death for many is the ground of the forgiveness of each; the partaking of the cup signifies our belief that He thus died for us; the seal of the covenant assuring our believing souls of forgiveness. Both ‘bread ‘and ‘wine ‘set forth Christ in us, as well as Christ for us. The blood is a symbol of life; the wine, the emblem of Christ’s blood, is drunk, to signify also our new life through the blood of Christ, just as the eating of the bread sets forth nourishment derived from Christ, whose body has been broken for us.[3]

John Gill comments on the usage of "many" here:

Which is shed for many, for the remission of sins; that is, was very shortly to be shed, and since has been, for all the elect of God; for the many that were ordained to eternal life, and the many that were given to Christ, the many that are justified by him, and the many sons he will bring to glory: whereby the full forgiveness of all their sins was procured, in a way consistent with, and honourable to the justice of God; full satisfaction being made to the law of God, for all their transgressions.[6]

This is similar to Matthew 20:28 where our Lord tells the purpose of His mission –

Matt. 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

cf. Mark 10:45.

Well, if Christ is a ransom for all people without exception, why does Scripture teach that the wicked will still pay for their sins and they will not be set free? The Lord Christ is a ransom, but only for the elect who are indeed set free and will completely be set free from sin and its dominion.

The question again is, did Christ fail in His mission or not? Did He attain that which was commanded Him by the Father? Did He, as He said before He went to the cross, finish the work that was given to Him (John 17:4)? His blood, which the blood of the New Covenant (Heb. 12:24; 13:20; Luke 22:20), naturally would be poured out for those in the covenant. In Old Testament times, the atonement was nationally limited. It was limited in scope to the nation of Israel. The high priest did not pray, intercede or offer sacrifice on behalf of the Babylonians, Assyrians or any other nation. ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary


Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper

What is the Lord’s Supper? Are we obliged to observe it? What does it signify? What is the Roman Catholic view? What is the Reformed view? Why should the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation be rejected? Doesn't Christ saying ‘this is my body’ mean that the bread and wine are Christ's literal body and blood? How is the Lord’s Supper a Means of Grace? Who may partake of the Lord's Supper?

This is, I believe, the most anti-Roman Catholic chapter in the Confession. This chapter provides a positive presentation of the Reformed view on the Lord's Supper and rejects the repugnant doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is important for us to understand the different views on the Lord's Supper. The most important of those different views is the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation. In this case, I will try to let Roman Catholics themselves explain to us their doctrine and then provide a biblical case of what the Lord's Supper is and what it is not.

§1 To Supper Of The Lord Jesus

  1. The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, 3 for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, 4 confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; 7 and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other. 8
    1. 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Matt. 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-23[1]
    2. Acts 2:41-42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-22, 33-34
    3. Mark 14:24-25; Luke 22:17-22; 1 Cor. 11:24-26
    4. 1 Cor. 11:24-26; Matt. 26:27-28; Luke 22:19-20
    5. Rom. 4:11
    6. John 6:29, 35, 47-58
    7. 1 Cor. 11:25
    8. 1 Cor. 10:16-17

The supper of the Lord is a ”positive and sovereign institution” (chapter 28:1) by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He commanded it to be observed in His churches, unto the end of the world (1 Cor. 11:26 ). Why did He command it to be observed? ...for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of Himself in His death (1 Cor. 11:24-26 ). The Lord Supper signifies and shows forth the Lord's suffering on our behalf, His body being broken for us and His blood being shed for our forgiveness. It is also given for the confirmation of the faith of believers to remind them of the sacrifice of Christ which is their only ground of hope and peace with God. It is for their spiritual nourishment, and growth in Him because the Lord's comes very close to us as we partake of His supper and sit at His table. It reminds us also of all the duties which we owe to Him thanks to His sacrifice on our behalf. But it is also a bond and pledge of our communion with Him, and with each other. Since we are all in union with Christ and as we partake of His blood and body, we also partake and are united with each other as believers. Christ unites all believers together and this is also signified by the Lord's Supper and it is a pledge of it (i.e., a solemn promise or undertaking to keep this communion).

Institution And Command Of Observation

The Lord's Supper is an ordinance which is directly commanded by Christ. It's not a deduction from multiple passages, but a direct and positive command of the Sovereign Christ. It is meant to cause us to look back to the perfect sacrifice of Christ of Himself by Himself for the ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary


God has given us everything that is necessary for his own glory, i.e., that we would glorify Him and see His glory, our salvation and our life of faith and obedience is contained in the Holy Scripture. These things are called the whole counsel of God and this is found either expressly or necessarily in the Word of God. By expressly, the Confession means by direct commands and teachings (e.g. the Ten Commandments, Baptism, the Lord's Supper). By necessarily contained, the Confession refers to principles, applications and implications of Holy Scripture. We are not only to obey the direct commands of Scripture, but also whatever is implied and is based upon the teaching and commands of Scripture. The Lord Christ uses this principle when He proves the resurrection of the dead from the fact that the Patriarchs are alive before God in heaven (Matt. 22:23-33). Resurrection was not in Exodus 3:6, but it was a necessary and a valid implication.

The whole counsel of God is not to be tampered with. No new revelations of the Spirit neither the traditions of men should be added to it because the canon is closed. God has given His last word whole the church and world in His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). Then the Confession comes again to the necessity of the Holy Spirit in connection with Scripture. The inward work of the Holy Spirit is not only necessary to convince us that the Bible is God's Word (paragraph 5), but also for the saving understanding of those things as are revealed in the Word. The Spirit gives us inward illumination to savor and love the truths revealed in the Word.

There are some things which are not revealed in the Word concerning the circumstances of the worship of God or the government of the church, but are left to be ordered by the light of nature (i.e., common sense) and Christian prudence (wisdom). These are things like the time of worship on the Lord's Day, the type of building or place to worship, how long the service will be, beamer screen or not, or the finances of the church. These are things which the Scripture does not directly or indirectly speak about but are left to Christian wisdom and common sense. Nonetheless, the general rules of the Word are still to be observed in these matters. These are not to be disconnected from the Word just because they are not directly addressed by the Word. See chapter 22 about the elements and circumstances of worship.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

To say that Scripture is sufficient is not to say that it speaks on every topic imaginable or that it tells us everything that we should do and everything which we should not. Rather, the sufficiency of Scripture is defined as Scripture containing everything necessary that God wanted us to know about salvation, faith, and the walk of obedience. Whatever God had deemed necessary for His people to know, He has written for our benefit in Scripture. The primary passage in Scripture which teaches the sufficiency of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16:

2Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

Here, the Apostle Paul gives us a great and necessary-to-know description of Holy Writ. The Scriptures, all of it, is profitable for teaching us the will of God; for reproving and criticizing us and our actions, because in them God has revealed His perfect Law of ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...he Apostle had laid in chapters 3-5. Although I deny that this passage is directly speaking of water baptism, yet, I believe that Paul had water baptism in mind because it was a sign given by the Lord to symbolize our union in His death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, its use for the meaning and mode of baptism is proper. Although the baptism here is spiritual baptism, yet it cannot be denied that water baptism signifies spiritual baptism, i.e., regeneration.

A.H. Strong makes the following observation on the significance of Christian baptism:

Baptism, like the Fourth of July, the Passover, the Lord's Supper, is a historical monument. It witnesses to the world that Jesus died and rose again. In celebrating it, we show forth the Lord's death as truly as in the celebration of the Supper. But it is more than a historical monument. It is also a pictorial expression of doctrine. Into it are woven all the essential truths of the Christian scheme. It tells of the nature and penalty of sin, of human nature delivered from sin in the person of a crucified and risen Savior, of salvation secured for each human soul that is united to Christ, of obedience to Christ as the way to life and glory. Thus baptism stands from age to age as a witness for God—a witness both to the facts and to the doctrine of Christianity. To change the form of administering the ordinance is therefore to strike a blow at Christianity and at Christ, and to defraud the world of a part of God's means of salvation.[8]

Colossians 2:11-12

Another passage which is quite similar to Romans 6:3-5 is Colossians 2:11-12:

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 

The elect were united with Christ in His death and they were buried with their Covenantal Head, but also raised together with Him. In contrast to Jewish circumcision of the flesh, Christians still have a circumcision, namely, that of the heart (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Rom. 2:28-29; Phil. 3:3). Circumcision continues in the New Covenant, yet it is not of the flesh but of the heart, which is regeneration. This passage is often claimed by our Paedobaptist brethren to teach that the sign or seal of the New Covenant is baptism because they see a connection here between circumcision of the foreskin and Christian baptism. But I believe that Paul has an another counterpart to the Old Covenant circumcision. The language of circumcision stays the same, but the object of circumcision and its spiritual significance are changed in the New Covenant. The sign of the Old Covenant was circumcision of the males, but in the New Covenant, there is a “circumcision made without hands” by Christ for every member of the New Covenant, male and female. Th


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

  • Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

  • Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

  • Of the Civil Magistrate

  • Of Marriage

  • Of the Church

  • Of the Communion of Saints

  • Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper

  • Of Baptism

  • Of the Lord's Supper

  • Of the State of Man after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead

  • Of the Last Judgement

  • (More) Scriptural references have been added from Sam Waldron's excellent Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.

    Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures [Return] [Commentary]

    1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience 1, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable 2; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation 3. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church 4; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary 5, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 6
      1. Isa 8:20; Luke 16:29; Eph 2:20; 2 Tim 3:15-17
      2. Ps 19:1-3; Rom 1:19-21, 32; 2:12a, 14-15
      3. Ps 19:1-3 with vv. 7-11; Rom 1:19-21; 2:12a, 14-15 with 1:16-17; and 3:21
      4. Heb 1:1-2a
      5. Prov 22:19-21; Luke 1:1-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15; 3:1; Deut 17:18ff; 31:9ff, 19ff; 1 Cor 15:1; 2 Thess 2:1-2, 15; 3:17; Rom 1:8-15; Gal 4:20; 6:11; 1 Tim 3:14ff; Rev 1:9, 19; 2:1 etc.; Rom 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19-21
      6. Heb 1:1-2a; Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Eph 2:20
    2. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these: 
      Genesis Matthew
      Exodus Mark
      Leviticus Luke
      Numbers John
      Deuteronomy Paul's Epistle to the Romans
      Joshua  I Corinthians & II Corinthians
      Judges Galatians
      Ruth Ephesians
      I Samuel & II Samuel Philippians
      I Kings & II Kings Colossians
      I Chronicles, II Chronicles I Thessalonians & II Thessalonians
      Ezra I Timothy & II Timothy
      Nehemiah To Titus
      Esther To Philemon
      Job The Epistle to the Hebrews
      Psalms Epistle of James
      Proverbs The first and second Epistles of Peter
      Ecclesiastes The first, second, and third Epistles of John
      The Song of Solomen The Epistle of Jude
      Isaiah The Revelation

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 28: Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper - Commentary


    Chapter 28: Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper

    What does it mean that the ordinances are positive institution? What is the difference between the Reformed and Roman Catholic understanding of the sacraments? Who may administer the ordinances?

    §1 Ordinances Of Positive And Sovereign Institution

    1. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world. 2
      1. Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:24-25[1]
      2. Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 1:13-17; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Cor. 11:26; Luke 22:14-20

    Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances and commandments of positive and sovereign institution. They have been instituted and commanded by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver and are therefore to be obeyed and continued in His church to the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20; 1Cor. 11:26). What does it mean that the ordinances are of positive and sovereign institution? It means that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are moral commandments which are added to the moral law already existing. They are not things which of themselves are moral, but they are moral because they have been instituted and appointed by the Lord Jesus. They are given to us as a law, which the Lord Jesus Christ, by His power and authority as Head, King and Lawgiver of the church  has  instituted. Finally, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only ordinances under the New Covenant which the Confession speaks about. Christ has given us only to ordinances which we ought to obey, not seven sacraments according to Roman Catholic teaching.

    Baptism and the Lord's Supper are two ordinances or sacraments which the Lord Jesus by sovereign authority instituted and commanded us to observe. Now, what does the word “positive” mean in the sentence “positive and sovereign institution”? Does it mean something that is happy and good, over against something negative and bad? No, that is not the contextual meaning of the word. Rather, by “positive institution” or “positive command,” the Confession means an institution or a command that is not inherently moral. A person who has not read the Bible or heard of the God of the Bible, still knows that murder is wrong and lying is bad. But, can it be argued that they know that not being baptized is sin and not partaking of the Lord's Supper is sin? Obviously not. So, these things, just like the command of Genesis 2:16-17 in the Garden, are things which are not inherently moral, but become moral when God commands them. They are things that are good because commanded, in contrast to pure moral laws that are commanded because they are good. The Lord Christ, by His own power and authority, established two ordinances for the New Covenant people of God. But, what do we mean by ordinance or sacrament? A.H. Strong writes, "By the ordinances, we mean those outward rites which Christ has appointed to be administered in his church as visible signs of the saving truth of the gospel. They are signs, in that they vividly express this truth and confirm it to the believer.”[2] They are the only visible signs which God has given His people to show the truths of the Gospel with. He has not allowed us to use image of any of the blessed Persons of the Trinity (see here), but has given us the bread and wine, and the waters of baptism as signs which symbolize the truths of the Gospel.

    These two...

    Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

    ...gistrate-Commentary/" target="_blank">Of The Civil Magistrate
  • Of Marriage
  • Of The Church
  • Of the Communion of Saints
  • Of Baptism And The Lord's Supper
  • Of Baptism
  • Of The Lord's Supper
  • Of The State Of Man After Death And Of The Resurrection Of The Dead (Intermediate State Hades, Sheol, Heaven; A Case for Amillennial Eschatology; critique of Premillennialism)
  • Of The Last Judgment (Endless punishment in Hell contra Annihilationism)
  • ...