Works of John Wesley Volume 32: Medical and Health Writings

Works of John Wesley Volume 32: Medical and Health Writings


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From the beginning of his ministry John Wesley was committed to nurturing in his own life and in the communities he served “health of body and of soul.” This volume provides a window into his concern for “health of body” by collecting all of his writings related to health and wellness. These range from his best-selling home guide to health care, the Primitive Physic, through his recommendation of electrical-shock therapy, to his concern for nervous disorders. The volume will be of keen interest to all who are committed to recovering Wesley’s holistic understanding of salvation and ministry in the present church, as well as to those seeking a better understanding of medical care in the eighteenth century.

John Wesley published a collection of advice for preserving health and treating diseases, and his Primitive Physick, went through twenty-three editions in Wesley’s lifetime—among the highest number of anything that he published—and stayed in print (and use!) continuously into the 1880s. Those who are aware of this collection, and have glanced at a few of his prescriptions for ailments tend to dismiss it in bemusement.

Far from being an amusing avocation, John Wesley’s interest in health and healing was a central dimension of his ministry and of the mission of early Methodism. Moreover, when considered in its historical context, Wesley’s precedent provides a model of the concern for holistic health and healing that is instructive for his present ecclesial heirs.

As a primary record of one of the founders of the Wesleyan/Methodist movement, John Wesley’s Medical Writings are crucial to an understanding of the beginnings of that movement, its reflection of the context from which it emerged, and its lasting impact on English and American Methodism and the broader culture. It is likewise absolutely essential for anyone in any of the potential reader groups listed above who wants to understand the context and sensibility around issues of bodily health and Christian salvation out of which Wesleyan theology, worship, spirituality, hymnody, and conferencing emerged. For a church or movement that declares salvation and wholeness as works of divine presence impacting embodied life in the real world, Wesley’s reflections on human health are not just relics of a pre-medical age but reveal a deeper sensibility about spiritual health pertinent to the Church’s ongoing commitment to flesh and blood human health and flourishing in the real world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501859014
Publisher: Kingswood Books
Publication date: 06/12/2018
Pages: 804
Sales rank: 1,075,766
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.94(d)

About the Author

Randy L. Maddox is William Kellon Quick Professor of Church History and Wesley Studies at The Divinity School, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; and Associate General Editor of the Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley. He is a recognized authority on both John Wesley's theology and the theological developments in later Methodism. Among his special interests are the science and religion dialogue, the nature of evangelicalism, and the theological distinctives of Eastern Orthodoxy. Maddox is an ordained elder in the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church.

James G. Donat graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, and the University of London where he earned a PhD in the history and philosophy of science/medicine. He is an independent scholar with work focusing on John Wesley and medicine.

Table of Contents

Signs, Special Usages, Abbreviations xiii

Introduction To John Wesley's Practice and Publications Offering Medical and Health Advice 1

Collection of Receipts (1745-46) 67

An Introductory Comment 67

Text 74

Primitive Physic (1747-91) 97

An Introductory Comment 97

Text 110

A Letter to a Friend Concerning Tea (1748) 267

An Introductory Comment 267

Text 276

The Desideratum: or, Electricity Made Plain and Useful (1760) 289

An Introductory Comment 289

Text 304

The Account of Disease in A Survey of the Wisdom of God in Creation (1763) 357

An Introductory Comment 357

Text 359

Thoughts on the Sin of Onan (1767) 365

An Introductory Comment 365

Text 374

Advices with Respect to Health (1769) 389

An Introductory Comment 389

Text 401

Wesley's Engagement with William Cadogan on the Gout (1771-74) 567

An Introductory Comment 567

'To the Printer of The Bristol Gazelle' (1771) 576

'Extract from Dr. Cadogan … on the Gout' (1774) 578

'Thoughts on "Nervous Disorders"' (1786) 607

An Introductory Comment 607

Text 616

Medical Advice and Receipts in the 'Arminian Magazine' (1784-91) 623

An Introductory Comment 623

Text 624

Appendix A Wesley's Text: Editions, Transmission, Presentation, and Variant Readings 629

Appendix B Prescription for Abraham Brames 651

Appendix C Health Advice through Correspondence 653

Appendix D The Primitive Physic Controversy 675

Appendix E Glossary of Eighteenth-Century Terms for Medical Conditions, Instruments, Measures, and Treatments 731

Appendix F Glossary of Eighteenth-Century Medicinal Names of Herbs, Minerals, and Other Remedies 741

Bibliography of Wesley's Known Reading and Sources On Medicine 763


Index of Medical Conditions Mentioned by Wesley 773

General Index 779

Index of Scripture Citations and Allusions 787

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