By Roy E. Cogdill
(Preface: Since the middle of last summer, after my father suffered two light strokes, I have been trying to help him with this paper. He is required to stay in bed most of the time. Although he still is editor, I have been doing the actual “paste-up” of most of the issues. Recently, the following letter came to me from Brother Roy E. Cogdill. He included the article printed below. The letter to me speaks for itself. Stephen P. Willis.)
December 8th, 1975
I have written an article concerning Cecil. I would appreciate it so much if you could slip it in the Magazine at the earliest possible date without his knowing, if possible.
Roy Cogdill (signed)
Editing a paper and especially a religious paper is not an easy job. There is a tremendous responsibility connected with it as there is with trying to insure that the truth is taught through any medium. An editor is responsible not only for what he writes but for whatever is printed in the paper he edits and for the impression that it leaves upon the minds of the readers of that paper.
The paper not only carries his own convictions concerning the truth but the concept of all who write for it. If he permits someone to mislead others by teaching something that is not true in the pages of the paper for which he is responsible, he is an accessory to propagating error and perhaps by it damning someone’s soul. This means that if he prints something which he cannot accept as the truth that he must state dissent and point out the error or see to it that others do so and it should by all means be done in the same issue of the paper. One false doctrine when accepted leads to another just as one lie leads to another lie and the end is to be lost, for to be saved one must believe the truth (2 Jno. 9-11; 2 Thess. 2:10-12).
The pages of a religious paper are to be kept filled with the truth that will build up and edify the souls that read it, strengthen their faith in the Lord and His Word, and direct their service, worship and lives aright. Truth must be plainly taught on every issue (the whole counsel of God, Acts 20:27) and error must be reproved and rebuked every time it rears its ugly head. That will involve the editor not only with enemies of the truth, but with those who have been close friends and sometimes means that even they will become his bitter enemies for none of us become so gracious as to enjoy being corrected in the mistakes we make even though we may be Christian enough to accept such correction. Too many times we “kick against the goads” instead.
An editor is many times maligned, severely criticized, misrepresented and resented, ostracised by many and pulverized, if possible, by others. It is like many other responsibilities that must be assumed in certain tasks that are not pleasant and all easy. His skin must thicken as his faith and fidelity to the truth waxes stronger in the accomplishment of his duties. It takes a strong man, impervious to what others may think and say about him when his duty is done to be a good editor of a medium through which the truth is taught.
Cecil Willis is not a pretentious man. He does not eat, live and breathe out his ego and personal judgments in what he preaches or writes. He fears God, honors the brotherhood, loves the truth, and in a straightforward manner fearlessly does what he believes to be his duty without being overly concerned about the consequences aside from pleasing God and serving to the best of his ability the interests of the Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is not easily daunted when doing his duty and has trained himself well to forget personal interests and ambitions and do whatever truth and righteousness in the sight of God may demand of him.
I have known him all of his life. I knew his father and mother before he was born and have watched with keen interest his life as a Christian, a preacher of Christ, a writer and editor. I know how he agonizes over the alienation of former friends and the personal judgments that he has to make many times that involve brethren whom he knows and loves. I also know the attitude of his heart toward the truth and the Kingdom of God and his whole hearted dedication and devotion to serving Him. I have spent many hours with him personally, for weeks at a time, as we have studied and worked together and as we have traveled to a good many parts of this world – far away from home and loved ones – not because we enjoyed or desired to be away from them but because a door of opportunity was opened to serve the Lord and we felt impelled to take advantage of it. Frequently I have heard men say that a man’s first duty is to his family. That has one exception-The Lord and His Cause.
I not only know the attitude of Cecil Willis but I know that he loves the Lord and the truth more than his own life and that he has gone when he did not have the strength physically to go. He does not spare himself. I have been associated with very few men that unceasingly, day and night, have meditated upon the truth and matters pertaining to the Church of our Lord more wholly than he. He has impaired his health at an early age by such whole hearted devotion and unrelentingly driving himself in doing what he regarded as his duty that needed to be done. His liberality and generosity is not only evidenced in the service he renders to the Lord and others (and those who are indebted to him for encouragement and help of a varied nature are legion) he also gives unsparingly of his resources to every need that he is aware o# about him.
His ability and preparation is far greater than most. He has taken careful advantage of his opportunities and stands today capable, confident because of his faith in the Lord, and in His Word, and ready to defend and “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” He knows no compromise. In personal life he is clean, holy, and committed to doing the will of the Lord whatever the cost. His integrity is beyond assault. Yes, he makes mistakes, as all of us do, but I have not seen him make any that he was not willing and ready to correct when they came to his notice.
Such a man is the editor of Truth Magazine. and I thank God for him and the tremendous good he has done and is doing. He is at present under the order of his physician recuperating from some physical ailments and curtailing his travel, and to some extent his work, in order to overcome his physical difficulties and be once again able to continue “full steam ahead” in his work. If there is any serious criticism justly that might be leveled against him, it is such commitment and dedication to his work that he has not taken care of himself. You see a man cannot play golf several times a week or stay on a diet of proper food for his body, or sleep ten or twelve hours a night and take a two hour nap in the afternoon and do the work that Cecil Willis has done for years. I would guarantee that while the doctor has him in bed resting – supposedly – he is reading and writing and carrying on his work until late in the night. I pray that God may give him the strength to continue his course with all wisdom, trying to conserve his strength and lengthen his years, and increase the influence he has and his ability to do much more good in the days to come. Why did I write this? Well, I just felt like including it among the little writing I try to do these days, and because it is the way I feel about Cecil Willis, because I know him and love him for what he is and what he has done and is trying to do for the cause of Christ. He did not know I was going to do it and if I can slip it past his editorial scrutiny, he will not know, until he reads it in the paper.
Truth Magazine, XX:3, p. 12-13
January 8, 1976