The editor of this work submits a word of explanation touching its general plan and purpose. It consists of queries propounded by numerous persons at different times on a multiplicity and variety of subjects, with answers by Elder David Lipscomb and Elder E. G. Sewell, and covering a period of forty years of their joint editorial labors on the Gospel Advocate. If there be merit in a great variety of themes, this work has it in large measure, there being more than six hundred subjects and phases of subjects treated in its pages, making the work a veritable storehouse of information imparted by two men not only well informed in the Bible, but thoroughly conscientious in their uniform effort to teach it unmixed with the devices of human wisdom.
The collation, selection, and arrangement of the material was a Herculean task, involving much painstaking and tedious labor. It was the original plan of the editor to classify and arrange the material in the form of chapters, with suitable headings, but the great number and variety of themes discussed made this plan less desirable; and hence it was decided to place over each query a suitable heading indicating the subject of the query and answer, and then to arrange the subject-matter of the whole book in the form of an encyclopedia, the subjects treated being arranged in alphabetical order. Without a topical index, this will enable the reader to find without difficulty any subject treated in the book.
To save space, both the names signed to queries and sometimes accompanying remarks by the querists, which are not essential to the query, are eliminated. But the signatures of D.L. and E.G.S., wherever found appended to the answers, are allowed to remain, so that, in all such cases, the reader can know which of the two editors is the author of the answer in a given case. Sometimes the name of neither was appended to the answer; and in such cases, while the reader can know that the answer is by either Lipscomb or Sewell, he probably will not know which, although persons familiar with the different styles of the two men will readily recognize which author they are reading.
At some points the careful reader will observe slight repetition, but it is not of a nature to mar the work. On the contrary, the material being selected from that produced by the joint labors of the two men, it was found, in some instances, that both of them at different times had answered the same question; and, to give the reader the benefit of the wisdom of both, the answer of each is allowed to appear, the one usually following immediately after the other. The variety of treatment thus gained is ample compensation for slight repetition. The reader, in such cases, not only has the advantage of hearing both men on the same subject, but the one often supplements the other. In some instances the same editor is allowed to appear twice on the same subject, because the same query was propounded at different times, and the answer at one time supplements that at another.
The very excellent work entitled “Queries and Answers” and edited by Brother J. W. Shepherd consists of selections from David Lipscomb alone. The editor of that volume not only maintained in its preparation his reputation for thorough and accurate work, but the material he collected is of a high order, making, in the judgment of the present editor, one of the most valuable books published in recent years. But it did not exhaust the material left by Brother Lipscomb; and the additional material from him given in this volume, together with that from Brother Sewell, not only makes another valuable book, but the present editor entertains the hope that the two works may be used as companion volumes, and that they may find a welcome place in many libraries.
In a few instances, in order to make the discussion complete at a given point, the same item, or substantially the same, will be found in both volumes; but here, again, the repetition is of a nature not to harm, but to help in the effort to elicit truth, which, in all their labors as teachers of the Bible, was the uniform object of these two eminent servants of God. Side by side they lived, and loved, and labored together. Truly a noble team they were, and right well did they pull together.
Thus, in the present volume, the reader has the rare privilege of journeying with these two godly men and sitting as a student at their feet for forty years of the most active period of their lives. They were noble yokefellows in a noble cause, and I doubt if two men ever worked together more successfully or more harmoniously for so long a time. Their joint labors are a monument of fidelity to God and to his church.
September 1, 1920