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Chapter 8: Doctrine and Covenants 19
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“Chapter 8: Doctrine and Covenants 19,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)

“Chapter 8,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual

Chapter 8

Doctrine and Covenants 19

Introduction and Timeline

As the translation of the Book of Mormon neared completion in June 1829, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Martin Harris hired the printer Egbert B. Grandin to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon for $3,000. However, Grandin would not start the printing until he was guaranteed payment for the job, so Martin Harris made a verbal agreement to pay for the printing by mortgaging some of his farm. Sometime after the initial agreement, Martin Harris became concerned about mortgaging his farm. In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 19, likely given in the summer of 1829, the Lord commanded Martin Harris to “impart a portion of [his] property … [and] pay the debt [he had] contracted with the printer” (D&C 19:34–35). The Lord also revealed important truths about His atoning sacrifice and taught about repentance.

Early June 1829

Joseph Smith and Martin Harris arranged for Egbert Grandin to publish 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon.

July 1, 1829

Joseph Smith completed the translation of the Book of Mormon.

Summer 1829

Doctrine and Covenants 19 was received.

August 25, 1829

Martin Harris mortgaged his farm for $3,000 to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon.

March 26, 1830

Copies of the Book of Mormon were made available for purchase.

Doctrine and Covenants 19: Additional Historical Background

Sometime in June 1829, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Martin Harris visited printers in both Palmyra and Rochester, New York, hoping to arrange for someone to print the Book of Mormon. Egbert B. Grandin was 23 years old and working as owner, editor, and publisher of the Wayne Sentinel newspaper in Palmyra, New York, when he was approached about the job of printing the Book of Mormon. He refused at first because of strong critical attitudes in the Palmyra area against Joseph Smith. When Grandin was approached a second time, Martin Harris pledged to mortgage his farm to guarantee payment for the publication costs. Grandin’s price to print the unusually large order of 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon was $3,000.

Joseph filed an application for a copyright on the Book of Mormon on June 11, 1829. After the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed on approximately July 1, 1829, Joseph Smith had Oliver Cowdery begin to make a duplicate copy of the entire manuscript to avoid repeating the problems caused by the earlier loss of the 116 pages. To safeguard the manuscript, only a few pages of the manuscript were taken at a time to the printer.

Although Martin Harris had previously agreed to guarantee payment, Grandin decided that he would not purchase new metal type or begin printing until the arrangements were finalized. It would require Martin to risk nearly all of his property in order to insure the payment. Doctrine and Covenants 19 was likely received in the summer of 1829, providing him with the needed confidence to move forward with the agreement. (Note: Earlier editions of the Doctrine and Covenants give the date of the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 19 as March 1830. Recent research suggests that the revelation was likely received during the summer of 1829. This date is reflected in the 2013 edition of the scriptures and in this chapter.) On August 25, 1829, Martin Harris mortgaged his property to Grandin as payment for the publication (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 1: July 1828–June 1831, ed. Michael Hubbard MacKay and others [2013], 86–89). “By so doing, he secured his place as the most significant financial supporter of the Book of Mormon and thus the early Church. None among Joseph Smith’s younger and poorer friends could have provided this critical contribution” (Matthew McBride, “The Contributions of Martin Harris,” in Revelations in Context, ed. Matthew McBride and James Goldberg [2016], 8, see also history.lds.org).

Grandin and his assistant John H. Gilbert began work right away on the printing. In March 1830, copies of the Book of Mormon became available for purchase.

Church History Maps: Palmyra-Manchester, New York, 1820-1831

Doctrine and Covenants 19:1–20

The Lord explains the consequences of not repenting and describes His suffering for sin

Doctrine and Covenants 19:2–3. “Having accomplished and finished the will of … the Father”

Jesus Christ has always obeyed His Father’s will in all things. In the Council in Heaven, when the Father asked whom He should send to redeem His children, Jesus Christ declared, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2). The Savior testified of the purpose of His mortal mission when He taught His disciples, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). In Doctrine and Covenants 19:2, the phrase “having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am” refers to the completion of the Savior’s mortal mission, particularly His Atoning sacrifice. In Jesus Christ’s final moment of agony on the cross, having satisfied the eternal demands of justice for the sins of the world, He cried, “Father, it is finished, thy will is done, [and] yielded up the ghost (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 27:54 [in Matthew 27:50, footnote a]). Following His resurrection, the Savior introduced Himself to the Nephite multitude by declaring, “I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning” (3 Nephi 11:11).

This perfect submission to Heavenly Father’s will resulted in Jesus Christ receiving all power—including the power to destroy Satan and all evil at the end of the world. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught how accomplishing the will of Heavenly Father endowed Jesus Christ with power: “To qualify as the Redeemer of all our Father’s children, Jesus had to be perfectly obedient to all the laws of God. Because He subjected Himself to the will of the Father, He grew ‘from grace to grace, until he received a fulness’ of the Father’s power. Thus He had ‘all power, both in heaven and on earth.’ (D&C 93:13, 17.)” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson [2014], 92).

Divine Redeemer

Divine Redeemer, by Simon Dewey

Doctrine and Covenants 19:3. Jesus Christ will judge everyone according to his or her deeds

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that obedience is a fundamental principle. The blessings that come to those who choose to be obedient are both immediate and eternal. Disobedience causes a person to forfeit blessings and brings chastening and loss of the Spirit. All of God’s children will be judged according to their deeds, or their efforts to be obedient. The “last great day of judgment” (D&C 19:3) refers to the Final Judgment, which will occur at the end of the Millennium.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clarified how our works and deeds influence how we will be judged:

“Many Bible and modern scriptures speak of a final judgment at which all persons will be rewarded according to their deeds or works or the desires of their hearts. But other scriptures enlarge upon this by referring to our being judged by the condition we have achieved. …

“… The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts––what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts––what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:4–12. Endless and eternal punishment

In referring to the judgment that comes upon those who choose not to repent of their sins, the terms “endless punishment” and “eternal punishment” (see D&C 19:11–12) do not refer to the length of time that the wicked will suffer. The Savior said, “I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name” (D&C 19:10). Because the Savior is Endless and Eternal, the terms “endless punishment” and “eternal punishment” refer to the source of punishment rather than the duration.

With the exception of those who inherit outer darkness, every person who suffers God’s punishment will eventually be redeemed to a kingdom of glory (see D&C 76:31, 38–39). Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “To hell there is an exit as well as an entrance. Hell is no place to which a vindictive judge sends prisoners to suffer and to be punished principally for his glory; but it is a place prepared for the teaching, the disciplining of those who failed to learn here upon the earth what they should have learned. True, we read of everlasting punishment, unending suffering, eternal damnation. That is a direful expression; but in his mercy the Lord has made plain what those words mean. ‘Eternal punishment,’ he says, is God’s punishment, for he is eternal; and that condition or state or possibility will ever exist for the sinner who deserves and really needs such condemnation; but this does not mean that the individual sufferer or sinner is to be eternally and everlastingly made to endure and suffer. No man will be kept in hell longer than is necessary to bring him to a fitness for something better. When he reaches that stage the prison doors will open and there will be rejoicing among the hosts who welcome him into a better state. The Lord has not abated in the least what he has said in earlier dispensations concerning the operation of his law and his gospel, but he has made clear unto us his goodness and mercy through it all, for it is his glory and his work to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1930, 97).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:13, 15, 20. “I command you to repent”

The repeated command to repent throughout the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 19 illustrates the Lord’s love for Martin Harris, for if Martin repented, he would not have to suffer as the Lord did. This same invitation is extended to each of us. The Lord wants us to repent so that we will not have to suffer.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught why repentance allows us to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness: “Repentance exists as an option only because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is His infinite sacrifice that ‘bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance’ (Alma 34:15). Repentance is the necessary condition, and the grace of Christ is the power by which ‘mercy can satisfy the demands of justice’ (Alma 34:16)” (“The Divine Gift of Repentance,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 38).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:15–17. Repent or suffer as the Savior suffered

In order to receive the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we must repent of our sins. Those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ and repent will suffer for their sins. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the choice to repent or suffer: “Let not Jesus’ redemption for us stop at the immortalizing dimension of the Atonement. … Let us grasp the proffered gift of eternal life! We will end up either choosing Christ’s manner of living or His manner of suffering!” (“Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame,” Ensign, May 1987, 72).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained why we must choose to repent: “If a man rejects the Savior’s Atonement, he must redeem his debt to justice himself. … An unredeemed individual’s suffering for sin is known as hell. It means being subject to the devil and is described in scriptural metaphors as being in chains or a lake of fire and brimstone. Lehi begged his sons to choose Christ’s Redemption ‘and not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom’ (2 Nephi 2:29). Even so, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, hell has an end, and those who are obliged to pass through it are ‘redeemed from the devil [in] the last resurrection’ (Doctrine and Covenants 76:85). The relatively few ‘sons of perdition’ are ‘the only ones on whom the second death shall have any [lasting] power; yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath’ (Doctrine and Covenants 76:32, 37–38)” (“Redemption,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 112, endnote 4).

Although repentance makes it possible for us to receive the blessings of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, we will still experience some suffering as a consequence of sin. Elder Dallin H. Oaks clarified the relationship between sin and suffering:

“There is a relationship between sin and suffering that is not understood by people who knowingly sin in the expectation that all the burden of suffering will be borne by Another, that the sin is all theirs but that the suffering is all His. That is not the way. Repentance, which is an assured passage to an eternal destination, is nevertheless not a free ride.

“Let us recall two scriptures: (1) ‘Repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment’ (Alma 42:16); and (2) the Savior said that he had suffered these things for all, ‘that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I’ (D&C 19:16–17).

“This obviously means that the unrepentant transgressor must suffer for his own sins. Does it also mean that a person who repents does not need to suffer at all because the entire punishment is borne by the Savior? That cannot be the meaning because it would be inconsistent with the Savior’s other teachings. What is meant is that the person who repents does not need to suffer ‘even as’ the Savior suffered for that sin. Sinners who are repenting will experience some suffering, but because of their repentance and the Atonement, they will not experience the full, ‘exquisite’ extent of eternal torment the Savior suffered” (“Sin and Suffering,” Ensign, July 1992, 71–72).

Jesus Christ. Gethsemane

Jesus Christ suffered for the sins of the world.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19. The Savior described His suffering for our sins

Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19 contains the Savior’s personal account of His suffering. Other descriptions of Jesus Christ’s suffering during His atoning sacrifice are given by someone other than Himself (see Matthew 26:36–39; Mark 14:32–41; Luke 22:39–44; Mosiah 3:7). Elder James E. Talmage described the intensity of suffering the Savior endured during His atoning sacrifice:

“Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. … He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and [the loss of blood to the brain] would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world’ [John 14:30] could inflict. …

“In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 613).

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified why Jesus Christ was willing to suffer for our sins: “In some incredible way that none of us can fully comprehend, the Savior took upon Himself the sins of the world. Even though His life was pure and free of sin, He paid the ultimate penalty for sin—yours, mine, and everyone who has ever lived. His mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish were so great they caused Him to bleed from every pore (see Luke 22:44; D&C 19:18). And yet Jesus suffered willingly so that we might all have the opportunity to be washed clean—through having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized by proper priesthood authority, receiving the purifying gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, and accepting all other essential ordinances. Without the Atonement of the Lord, none of these blessings would be available to us, and we could not become worthy and prepared to return to dwell in the presence of God” (“The Atonement and the Value of One Soul,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 85).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:18–19. The Savior did not shrink

The phrase “would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink” (D&C 19:18) refers to the Savior’s desire to not retreat under the weight of His suffering. Though His suffering was beyond anything we can comprehend, He submitted to Heavenly Father’s will and completed the Atonement.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell described how we might apply the truths taught in Doctrine and Covenants 19:18–19 to our own lives: “As we confront our own … trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we ‘might not … shrink’—meaning to retreat or to recoil (D&C 19:18). Not shrinking is much more important than surviving! Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is likewise part of the emulation of Jesus” (“Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 22).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:20. When did the Lord withdraw His Spirit from Martin Harris?

Although it is not clear what time or event is referred to in the phrase “the time I withdrew my Spirit” (D&C 19:20), the Lord may have been speaking of the time when Martin Harris lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript. At that time the Lord expressed displeasure, describing Martin as a “wicked man” who had “set at naught the counsels of God, and … broken the most sacred promises which were made before God, and … depended upon his own judgment and boasted in his own wisdom” (D&C 3:12–13). Martin’s carelessness that resulted in the loss of the manuscript certainly caused him to feel a withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord for a season. Martin later found great hope in the Lord’s willingness to permit him to view the plates as one of the Three Witnesses (see D&C 5:23–28; 17:1–8).

Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, described the feelings in their home after Martin Harris had lost the 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon: “I well remember that day of darkness, both within and without: to us at least the heavens seemed clothed with blackness, and the earth shrouded with gloom; and I have often said within myself, that, if a continual punishment, as severe as that which we experienced on that occasion, were to be inflicted upon the most wicked characters, who ever stood upon the footstool of the Almighty; if … their punishment was even no greater than this[,] I should feel to pity [their] condition” (“Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845,” 13435, josephsmithpapers.org).

Book of Mormon copyright registration certificate, 1829 June 11

One of the two copies of the copyright application for the Book of Mormon filed with the United States district court in Utica, New York

Doctrine and Covenants 19:21–41

The Lord gives Martin Harris several commandments, including the command to impart his farm for the printing of the Book of Mormon

Doctrine and Covenants 19:23. “Learn of me, … and you shall have peace in me”

Not only was Martin Harris commanded to repent in order to progress as a disciple of Jesus Christ, but he was also to learn of Jesus Christ, listen to Him, and walk in meekness as He does (see D&C 19:23). President Thomas S. Monson taught that studying the revealed word of God is one way we can learn of the Savior and receive His peace in our lives:

Fill your mind with truth. We do not find truth groveling through error. Truth is found by searching, studying, and living the revealed word of God. We adopt error when we mingle with error. We learn truth when we associate with truth.

“The Savior of the world instructed, ‘Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith’ [D&C 88:118]. He added, ‘Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me’ [John 5:39].

“He invites each of us, ‘Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me’ [D&C 19:23]” (“Be Thou an Example,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 98).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:26–27, 34–35. “Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer”

Martin Harris had pledged his property to help pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon, but he worried that he might lose his farm. He eventually sold 151 acres of his land to pay the debt. Although it cost Martin greatly, selling his land was a small price to assist in bringing forth the Book of Mormon, which has brought countless souls to the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Later in life, Martin testified that from the proceeds of the sale of the book, he recouped all of the money that he had advanced for the printing of the book (see “Additional Testimony of Martin Harris (One of the Three Witnesses) to the Coming forth of the Book of Mormon,” The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, vol. 21 [August 20, 1859], 545.)

Martin Harris Farm

Martin Harris sold part of his farm to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon (photograph ca. 1907).

Courtesy Church History Library and Archives

Doctrine and Covenants 19:25–26. “Thou shalt not covet”

The Lord commanded Martin Harris to impart of his property freely for the printing of the Book of Mormon. To help Martin understand the importance of this commandment and encourage him to act on it, in Doctrine and Covenants 19:25–26 the Lord used language like that in Exodus 20:17, which warns of the sin of covetousness. There is no evidence that Martin was coveting a neighbor’s wife or that he was seeking a neighbor’s life. The Lord was teaching him that coveting can extend to even our own property or time if we value it more than the Lord and His work.

Egbert B. Grandin and John H. Gilbert Jr.

Egbert B. Grandin (left) printed the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon. John H. Gilbert (right) was the typesetter for the original printing of the Book of Mormon.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:29–31. Revile not against revilers

When sharing the gospel or defending beliefs, Church members are to speak and act with humility and civility. The Lord commands His disciples to love others, especially when there is a difference of opinion. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained the importance of avoiding contention:

“The gospel has many teachings about keeping the commandments while living among people with different beliefs and practices. The teachings about contention are central. When the resurrected Christ found the Nephites disputing over the manner of baptism, He gave clear directions on how this ordinance should be performed. Then He taught this great principle:

“‘There shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.

“‘For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

“‘Behold, this is … my doctrine, that such things should be done away’ (3 Nephi 11:28–30; emphasis added).

“The Savior did not limit His warning against contention to those who were not keeping the commandment about baptism. He forbade contention by anyone. Even those who keep the commandments must not stir up the hearts of men to contend with anger. The ‘father of contention’ is the devil; the Savior is the Prince of Peace.

“Similarly, the Bible teaches that ‘wise men turn away wrath’ (Proverbs 29:8). The early Apostles taught that we should ‘follow after the things [that] make for peace’ (Romans 14:19) and ‘[speak] the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15), ‘for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God’ (James 1:20). In modern revelation the Lord commanded that the glad tidings of the restored gospel should be declared ‘every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness’ (D&C 38:41), ‘with all humility, … reviling not against revilers’ (D&C 19:30)” (“Loving Others and Living with Differences,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 25–26).

The building where E. B. Grandin printed the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon

Doctrine and Covenants 19:35. Debt is a form of bondage

Just as a debt must be paid to escape the bondage of sin, the Lord’s followers must pay their monetary debts to escape financial bondage. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) explained how the counsel given to Martin Harris to “pay the debt” (D&C 19:35) can apply to us today:

“Since the beginnings of the Church, the Lord has spoken on [the] matter of debt. To Martin Harris through revelation He said: ‘Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage’ (D&C 19:35).

“President Heber J. Grant spoke repeatedly on this matter. … He said: ‘If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet’ (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham [1941], 111).

“We are carrying a message of self-reliance throughout the Church. Self-reliance cannot obtain when there is serious debt hanging over a household. One has neither independence nor freedom from bondage when he is obligated to others. …

“What a wonderful feeling it is to be free of debt, to have a little money against a day of emergency put away where it can be retrieved when necessary. …

“I urge you … to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage.

“This is a part of the temporal gospel in which we believe. May the Lord bless you … to set your houses in order. If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your [families] and peace in your hearts. That’s all I have to say about it, but I wish to say it with all the emphasis of which I am capable” (“To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 53–54).

Doctrine and Covenants 19:38. Blessings greater than the treasures of the earth

The Lord promised Martin Harris that if he was obedient, He would “pour out [His] Spirit upon [him]” and he would receive blessings greater than the treasures of the earth (D&C 19:38). While it may have been difficult for Martin to see at that time, the blessings associated with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon far outweighed his personal property and wealth.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles compared heavenly blessings and earthly treasures: “The scriptures tell us, ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ [Matthew 6:19–20]. The riches of this world are as dust compared to the riches that await the faithful in the mansions of our Heavenly Father. How foolish is he who spends his days in the pursuit of things that rust and fade away. How wise is he who spends his days in the pursuit of eternal life” (“Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 43).