If his attempts to woo the woman he loved seemed rash, on the one hand, or boring, on the other, things were about to get much, much worse.
Although the ‘unofficially together’ couple were companions on a number of speaking tours, with Grace counselling the female society members, there was a major problem.
She was promised to another!
John Bennett, probably Wesley’s most successful itinerant preacher, a committed Calvinist, was also interested and had already exchanged love letters with Grace. He too felt that she had shown him some signs of love.
John and Grace continued travelling together, and also with Charles at one point. He had no idea of John’s affection for her, and considered her almost as one of the servants.
Grace herself, had not taken Wesley’s former expression of love as binding, or as evidence of an engagement, and so kept up her correspondence with John Bennett.
John, John! Put down your book on the Plague of London and win the lady!!
The Sudden Marriage
When John finally revealed his intentions to his brother, Charles was so shocked that he immediately sought to intervene.
These two men, who along with Whitefield and others, were turning a nation to God, were completely at a loss when it came to women.
Charles had met his bride and John had married them. Surely Charles would now reciprocate! Not at all! When John declared his love for Grace, he was rebuked.
To cut a long soap opera story short, without Wesley’s knowledge, quite suddenly and at Charles’ insistence, Grace was married to John Bennett in Newcastle.
Wesley’s Deepest Sadness
John was understandably upset. At first he refused to meet Charles, but George Whitefield, probably the only person who could, brought them together. They exchanged furious words, as Whitefield wept silently. Finally the two brothers embraced.
Mr. and Mrs. John Bennett, the newly married couple, were also brought in that all might be reconciled, but Wesley undoubtedly bore the weight of the reconciliation.
After the meeting, alone, in deep sadness, Wesley rode silently away.
Following some slanderous comments and a criticism from Bennett, Wesley reacted in a private letter to him:
‘I left with you my dearest friend, one I loved above all on earth, and fully designed for my wife. To this woman you proposed marriage, without either my knowledge or consent…You wrote me word you would take no farther step without my consent but…you tore her from me…
‘I think you have done me the deepest wrong which I can receive on this side the grave. But I spare you. ‘Tis but for a little time, and I shall be where the weary are at rest.’ (Quoted in John Pollock, Wesley, Hodder, Ch. 21)
To read how John Wesley finally met and married his wife click here
© 2010 Lex Loizides