Ponderings by Doug

John Wesley never dreamed he was starting a church. He never intended to. He was seeking to revive and renew the Anglican Church in England. The ecclesiastical descendants of John Wesley are found in the United Methodist Church, other bodies with the name Methodist, the Nazarene Church, the Assemblies of God and many of the Pentecostal churches across this country. You can also find “Wesleyan” theology in some “Non-Denominational” churches. We are all cousins who don’t really claim each other. We should!

Wesley was a pragmatist. He believed in what worked. One author opined that Wesley was “theologically promiscuous.” This is a tantalizing way of saying Wesley believed in what worked.

Wesley also fancied himself as an expert on medicine. The truth is that Wesley was a bit of a hypochondriac, so he was always trying out remedies on himself. I have been researching this subject matter in preparation for Confirmation class. Since the class is only one night and I have much more to share. I thought I would share some of John Wesley’s medical treatments with you. You might enjoy them, but I would say, “don’t try this at home, or any place else for that matter.”

To cure Baldness

Rub the part morning and evening, with onions, till it is red; and rub it afterwards with honey.

Or wash it with a decoction of box-wood.

Or electrify it daily. (Since Wesley lived in the 18th century, one wonders what the source of the electrifying was.)

Hard Breasts

I have no idea what this is. Once my mind ruled out all other options, I decided that this must be what you and I would call chest congestion.

Apply turnips roasted till soft, then mashed and mixed with a little oil of roses. Change this twice a day, keeping the breast very warm with flannel.

The Itch

Wash the parts affected with strong rum. (Wesley noted that he tried this. He didn’t note if it worked or not. This was before the advent or rum cakes or Christmas Fruitcakes. I’m wondering what would happen at the drive-up alcohol places here, if you said, “I have the itch and I would like the Wesleyan cure?”)

Or, anoint them with black soap.

Or, steep a shirt half an hour in a quart of water, mixed with half an ounce of powdered brimstone. Dry it slowly and wear it five or six days. Sometimes it needs repeating.

For One Seemingly Killed with Lightening, a damp, or suffocated.

Plunge him immediately in cold water.

Or, blow strongly with bellows down his throat. This may recover a person seemingly drowned. It is still better if a strong man blows into his mouth. (Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day! Wesley got one right.)

A windy Rupture.

Even from the “cure,” I have no idea what a windy rupture is. I know that I would never want it nor would I desire John Wesley’s treatment of it. Which is,

Warm cow-dung well. Spread it thick on leather, strewing some cumin-seeds on it, and apply it hot. When cold, put on a new one. It commonly cures a child (keeping his bed) in two days.

Mr. Wesley was much better giving advice for those seeking the assurance of salvation in Christ. His answer was always God’s grace.

Have you checked on your authoritative sources recently?


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