The great evangelist John Wesley was small but well-built and handsome. He could charm women at will, and often did — but not always with desired results.

At age 33 he met Sophy Hopkey, and she began making daily visits to his cottage for prayer and French lessons. When he became sick, Sophy nursed him, and he fell in love with her. “Her words,” he wrote, “her eyes, her air, her every motion and gesture, were full of such a softness! I know not what might have been the consequence had I then but touched her hand. And how I avoided it, I know not.” But he hesitated too long, and when Miss Sophy suddenly married another, Wesley was shattered.

Some years later during another illness, he fell in love with nurse Grace Murray. He more or less proposed to her, saying, “If I ever marry, I think you will be the person.” She more or less accepted. But when John’s brother Charles heard of it, he stormed into Grace’s house and burst out, “Grace Murray! You have broken my heart,” and fainted. When he recovered, he pelted her with objections, saying she would destroy his brother’s ministry. She broke the engagement, leaving John to painfully scribble, “We were torn asunder by a whirlwind.”

On February 10, 1751 Wesley, now in his late forties, suffered a fall in the middle of ice-coated London Bridge and was carried to the home of nurse Mary Vazeille. This time, he didn’t hesitate. They were married within a week.

It was a disaster. Wesley’s friend, John Hampson, described this account: “Once I went into a room and found Mrs. Wesley foaming with fury. Her husband was on the floor, where she had been trailing him by the hair of his head; and she was still holding in her hand venerable locks which she had plucked by the roots. I felt as though I could have knocked the soul out of her.”

The two spent little time together, and in 1771 we find this curious entry in Wesley’s journal: “I came to London, and was informed that my wife died on Monday. This evening she was buried, though I was not informed of it. … ”

A nagging wife goes on and on Like the drip, drip, drip of the rain. You may inherit all you own from your parents, But a sensible wife is a gift from the Lord. (Proverbs 19:13b,14)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Feb. 10

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