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In the great Boston fire of 1872, sixty-five acres of land was destroyed. The damage totaled up to $75 million but in our day would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 billion. Hundreds of businesses were destroyed. Someone came along and wrote a message on a rough board that read: Cast down, but not destroyed. Perhaps half out of madness and half of hope that hastily scribbled message seemed to prevail.

Everything was in ruins and there was nothing but ashes. However there was one man who was a druggist and had a small pharmacy that he owned. The building was burned flat but he managed to find the door to the basement of his pharmacy and when he crawled down into the cellar he discovered something. Some of his drugs had managed to make it through the fire in their glass containers but had been horribly melted. When he emerged from the cellar, he asked a couple of Boston policeman who were patrolling the area to keep an eye on his cellar. The pharmacist contacted a great professor from Harvard University who came down a few days later to Boston.

Together they went down into the cellar and begin to analyze the drugs and the chemicals that had gone through the fire. The heat had so changed the molecular compounds that a long list of improvements were discovered and Bostonians and others soon became healthier because of what happened in the fire.

From a sermon by Philip Harrelson, Nothing But Slag, 5/14/2012

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