The Fannie Bolton Story


Letter 18, 1896, pp. 1-5, 7. (To Bro. Caldwell, April 9, 1896.)

I am greatly distressed as I review the past, and as matters are brought to my notice by the Spirit of God. I have a decided message to bear to you, Brother Caldwell. Special light in regard to you and your family was not given me until about two years ago. I was then shown that the attitude you manifested in your home life was unchristian. You began your married life by accepting a false sabbath, and by sailing under false colors. But a wife that was obtained by selling principles of truth, could not bring peace or happiness to the purchaser. God was dishonored by your action in this matter, and his truth was trampled in the dust. FBS 68.2

When you gave up the Sabbath for your wife, she rejoiced that she had gained a victory, and Satan also rejoiced. But when she accepted a man who was willing to sell his Lord for her, she could not look up to him and honor him as a wife should honor her husband. When she married you under these circumstances, she did not distinguish between a heaven-born love, and an earthly love, not of divine origin. A man who will sacrifice his love for his heavenly Father for a wife, will also sell his wife for another woman. This quality of love is base; it is of this earth, and will never bear the test of trial. FBS 68.3

The Lord does not revise the laws of His government, the laws which control His subjects both in this world and in the heavenly universe. Natural laws must be obeyed. But you were so determined to obtain your wife, that you broke down every barrier, and broke God’s law by yielding up the Sabbath; and you have been reaping only that which you have sown. FBS 68.4

After marrying your wife, you again accepted the Sabbath. This was the right move to make, if you made it in sincerity and in the fear of God. Said Christ, [John 14:21, 23 quoted]. FBS 68.5

But you secured your wife under a promise which you afterwards broke. You paid a dear price for her, and by breaking your word, you have given her every reason to be tempted. Thus Satan has had every opportunity to deceive her, and he has presented this matter to her in his own light. You sacrificed the truth and sold your allegiance to God to obtain a wife, and after you again commenced keeping the Sabbath, your course toward your wife should have been entirely different from what it has been. You should have shown her all the tenderness, forbearance, and love which you manifested toward her before your marriage. But this was not done. You did not pursue a course which would keep her love. I myself cannot put confidence in you as a Christian, and under present developments, I could not give my consent for you to become a member of any church. FBS 68.6

You thought that when you were once married, you could do as you pleased. This has embittered your married life; and your wife has had every reason for refusing to leave her home, and come to you to this country. Your acceptance of fanatical views was nothing in your favor, and gave your wife an opportunity to strengthen herself against the principles of truth. FBS 68.7

For years you have been away from your home. Leaving as you did was a wrong against your family. You have told me that you would never humiliate yourself by going back, never; but the Lord has presented this matter before me. I know that you cannot be clear in the sight of God until you do all in your power to be reconciled to your wife. You have a work to do in your family which cannot be left undone. This I stated to you last September. Whatever position your wife has taken, whatever course of recklessness and levity she has pursued, this does not excuse you from acting a father’s part to your children. You ought to go back to your home, and do all in your power to heal the breach, which you, a professed believer in the truth, have done more than your wife to make. FBS 68.8

When you placed your love upon another woman [Fannie Bolton], even though your wife had obtained a divorce, you transgressed the seventh commandment; but you have done worse than this. You loved another women before your wife obtained a divorce, and you have said to one, “How hard it is to be bound to a woman I do not love, when there is one I love, yes, the very ground she walks on.” FBS 69.1

Your course while in my family was not open and frank. The transactions between you and the one upon whom you placed your affections were carried on under falsehood and deception. In the guise of false pretension, secret plans were carried out. The Lord opened these matters before me, and I tried to change the order of things; but the burden of soul was to you and others accounted a thing of naught. At this time you were giving Bible readings, and taking a prominent part in church work. My advice and counsel was not asked in regard to this important decision. Had I been, I should have been spared much pain that followed. FBS 69.2

When I talked with you in regard to your freedom in the company of young ladies, and told you that I could not have you in my family while I went to Tasmania, your answer was that you had always been sociable with young women, and had never thought that there was any harm in it. I told you that I knew there was harm in this freedom, and that I could not feel justified in leaving you in my family while I was absent. FBS 69.3

When I told you that you could not remain in my family, you said that after settling your accounts, which would take about a week, you could go. But this matter dragged along, or was neglected, till about two weeks before our return from Tasmania, and then in July we went to Cooranbong. FBS 69.4

This matter cannot rest here. I cannot be looked upon as keeping you from your home and family. It was a mistake, I think, to bring you into my family at all. I did this to help you; but I cannot let it be represented to others that we consider you a man worthy to engage in the sacred work which the Lord has given me. I cannot have this matter appear thus; for it places me in a wrong light. FBS 69.5

I cannot appear to justify your course of action in your married life. Leaving your wife and family was an offense to God, and I must present this matter as it is, before the president of your Conference, Mr. Williams. I had hoped that when you saw your delusion you would feel that repentance for your course of action that needeth not to be repented of. But my experience at Armadale, and the burden brought upon me there, made me a great sufferer; and matters in regard to your past life have been more fully opened before me.... FBS 69.6

You have thought that you would receive the credential of a minister of the gospel, but had these been given you, reproach would have been brought upon the cause of God. You have represented yourself as being a wronged man, but it is your wife who has been most wronged. She should never have been treated as you have treated her. You pursued such a course toward your little ones that your wife could not but be estranged from you. Her heart was wounded, bruised, and she was almost distracted by your overbearing, masterly government in discipline of your children. FBS 69.7

After giving up Fannie, you placed your affections upon another. This shows just what you would do if opportunities presented themselves. You show young girls attention, and thus win their love; for if you choose, your manner can be very gracious and attractive. As these things have passed before me, I have felt indignant. I cannot, will not, keep silent on these matters. I determined that you should be unveiled as an unprincipled man. Your ideas of what a Christian should be are so much unlike the principles laid down in the word of God, that no responsibility in connection with the cause of God should be given you. FBS 69.8