C.J. Woodworth - New historical information
I'm just wondering. I've long been fascinated with the September 1, 1908 Watch Tower article: "A Father's Letter to His Son." It's an anonymous letter written to a son born in 1906 about the problems he'll face since Mom and Dad will be gone in a few years. It's at:
[R4232 : page 263]
A FATHER'S LETTER TO HIS SON
T O MY DEARLY BELOVED SON:--
It has been on my heart for a considerable time to write you a letter, to be opened on your tenth birthday, __________, 1916, to endeavor to express something of the feeling of love and tenderness I have towards you, and to point out, for your eternal joy, and for your safety, certain principles, which I hope you will receive into a good and honest heart. At last a favorable opportunity has come, and as my last message to you I beg you to give earnest heed to all that this letter contains.
At the present time your dear mother and myself are in good health, and the affairs of the world are moving along in about the same general way as they have always moved within my lifetime. The world in general expects it to continue in this way indefinitely, and yet, looking at matters through the Lord's Word, I know that when this letter is read your papa and mamma will have passed from earthly scenes forever, and the great time of trouble, "such as never was since there was a nation," will no longer be a matter of prophecy, but of history.
It is needless for me to tell you, my dearly beloved son, what great tenderness and sympathy I feel for you in the thought that you will be bereft of earthly parents at such an early age, or with what compassion I think of the great suffering soon to come upon the world, and which, to some extent, you must share. But I know our heavenly Father and his goodness too well to think he has ever made a mistake, and am sure that beyond these special and peculiar trials lie special and peculiar blessings. It is of these blessings that I particularly wish to write.
The reason that your dear mother and myself must die within the next few years is because the sufferings [R4233 : page 264] of the "Body of Christ" are not yet complete, and we have taken advantage of the great opportunity to make covenants to lay down our earthly lives, and are trying to carry out our covenants, before this great work, which was begun by Jesus himself at the time of his baptism, is forever finished. The time when the suffering shall be finished is now very near, hence it follows that, if we have proved sufficiently faithful to the Lord, the time is near at hand when we shall share with him the glory that is to follow. This means that very soon it will be true of us, as it is true of the Lord, that we shall be changed from earthly to heavenly conditions, and the world will see us no more, forever.
The knowledge that the setting up of the Lord's Kingdom is at hand was brought to us by a study of the works of our dear Brother Russell. Ever since the various volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and the semi-monthly issues of ZION'S WATCH TOWER first came into my hands, I have sought to use all my time and talent in spreading the good news. As soon as you are old enough to understand these books and papers, I trust you will study them with the greatest care. You will be considerably assisted in this if you make use of the comments and other helps which appear in the Bible printed by the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY in the fall of 1908.
At the time this letter is written the Image of the Beast (the federation of so-called Protestant sects, with the Episcopal Church at the head) has not yet been developed, and yet, we know from Brother Russell's writings that within a very short time now (probably the Spring of 1909) it will begin its persecuting power, and in a very few more years its work will have been ended, and it, with all of Satan's devices to deceive and enslave the minds of men, will be utterly destroyed. I am telling you this now, so that when this letter is read, the fulfillments may prove to you that there is a God, and that he carries out all of his plans without the least danger of failure at any point. All that has been foretold in the Scriptures will surely be fulfilled, and exactly on time.
I come now to the special object of this letter. The Scriptures indicate that in the year 1915, the year before this letter is read, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Isaiah, Daniel, and all the holy prophets and patriarchs from Abel to John the Baptist, will have been raised from the dead and will be in charge of the earthly phase of the Lord's Kingdom, with headquarters at Jerusalem. The Lord's Word also seems to indicate that this truth, and the fact that there has been a change of dispensation, may possibly not be generally believed until the year 1918. I am writing this to you so that you will not be one of those who will be mistaken on this point, but will understand that, by the time this letter is read, the squaring and straightening of earth's affairs will be in progress from Jerusalem, at the hands of the Ancient Worthies.
What I now wish to urge upon you, my son, is that you give your whole heart and life unreservedly to the Lord, or in other words that you make a whole-hearted consecration to him who bought you with his own precious blood, and that you grow up with the single ambition to do with all your might all you can to aid in carrying on the work which will then be under way at Jerusalem. I wish you to do this for your own joy of heart, because there is no joy comparable to doing the Lord's will, but not alone for this reason. The Scriptures show that every son and daughter of our race must at some time make an unconditional surrender to the Lord, a full consecration of heart and life to do his will, or else be destroyed.
In addition to this I wish to hold out to you a hope which I feel justified in mentioning. There are some Scriptures which show that, after the close of the Millennial Age, the Ancient Worthies may possibly be given heavenly honors and stations, and there is some reason to believe that, as the child of consecrated parents, you may possibly be counted in with the Ancient Worthies if you make at once a full consecration of your heart to the Lord. If I understand the matter rightly, you occupy a different relation to our heavenly Father than other children, up until the time when you reach years of accountability, and I am hoping that you will take advantage of this special relationship to place yourself as close to the Lord and his work as it is possible for you to do.
One thing more. Beware, oh beware, of ever resisting the Lord's will even in the smallest way! At the close of the Millennial Age there will be many who shall be destroyed, because at heart they are not fully submissive to the heavenly Father's will.
Should it be the Father's will that you be permitted to be counted in with the Ancient Worthies, be assured, dear son, that a loving father and mother will greet you in the heavenly courts with joy untold, but in any event, you may be sure we shall always watch your course with fondest affection, doing all we can to aid you in carrying out your good resolutions, and hoping in the end to see you attain to perfect everlasting life, under the happy conditions to be obtained in the golden ages to come, after the last enemy has been destroyed. With tenderest love,
Your devoted father,
I. N. COGNITO.
The article says the son was born in 1906. Could this be C.J. Woodworth writing to his son? That's the year given above for C.J. Jr's birth.
Here is the Woodworth family in the 1880 census:
Jeez, what a letter!! I am reminded of Linda Hamilton in the Terminator, knowing what the future has in store and recording instructions for her child not yet born. Except in this case, not a thing prophesied came true, and the letter is written with such confidence:
"I am telling you this now, so that when this letter is read, the fulfillments may prove to you that there is a God, and that he carries out all of his plans without the least danger of failure at any point. All that has been foretold in the Scriptures will surely be fulfilled, and exactly on time."
I have to wonder what really happened in 1916. I doubt such a letter ever saw the light of day on the child's tenth birthday out of sheer embarassment.
You will be considerably assisted in this if you make use of the comments and other helps which appear in the Bible printed by the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY in the fall of 1908.
If Woodworth was writing this to his son (and I'm thinking it most likely was him), it's interesting to note he plugged his own work (the Berean Bible Manual).
The letter was quite sincere. I agree, Leolaia, it turned out to be quite the embarrassment instead.
In reading Carol Allen's (Woodworth's granddaughter) story as it appeared in the 2000 Watchtower, did anyone else get the impression that her Dad (Woodworth's son) was not as active in the Witnesses?