John Wesley was a strong advocate for health. His emphasis on spiritual and social holiness included spiritual, social, and physical wholeness. Wesley was extremely practical in his concerns for healthy families and physical bodies. His apothecary in the museum at Wesley Chapel is evidence of his interest.
Wesley opposed unhealthy industrial working conditions and helped men and women reach for economic stability. He even edited a manual on home remedies because he knew that the poor of his day had no access to the emerging sciences of healing. Methodist circuit riders were expected to carry Wesley’s book of cures in their saddlebags along with their Bibles. Wesley wanted preachers prepared to recommend healing potions as well as to expound Scripture. He also believed that the use of the physician’s craft should be combined with prayer–“the medicine of medicines.” (Wesley’s Works, vol. xiv, p. 258)
The centuries between New Testament times and Wesley’s ministry were not devoid of Christian commitment to physical health and response to the physical needs of the poor. Indeed, response to physical needs is a central and profound component of Christian theology. Much of what Christians and the institutional church have done in health ministry across the ages reflects humanitarian motivations. Responding to the need God sets before us entails prayer for the needy and ourselves and a sense of the saving power of the kingdom that comes near in healing and proclamation.