Section 119: Instruction to the Elders


Previous Editions

Earliest Source

1897 D&C 119

1906 D&C

1911 D&C

1922 D&C

1952 D&C

1970 D&C 119

1990 D&C


Date Given: April 12th, 1887

Location Given: Kirtland, Ohio

Date Canonized: April 12th, 1887


To the Elders of the Church:

Thus saith the Spirit:


A. It is not yet expedient that the Quorum of the Twelve shall be filled; nevertheless separate my servants, James W. Gillen, Heman C. Smith, Joseph Luff, and Gomer T. Griffiths, unto the office of apostles, that the quorum may be more perfectly prepared to act before me.

B. I have still other men of my church who shall be designated in their time if they still continue faithful unto me and in the work whereunto they are now called.


A. There is a great work to be done by mine elders, and that they may be fitted to do this work and the accomplishment thereof be not prevented, it is enjoined upon them that they shall not only be kind of heart and of a lowly spirit, that their wisdom may be the wisdom of the Lord and their strength the strength of the Spirit,

B. but they shall lay aside lightness of speech and lightness of manner when standing to declare the word, and shall study to approve their ministrations to the people by candor in speech and courtesy in demeanor, that as ministers of the gospel they may win souls unto Christ.


A. The elders and men of the church should be of cheerful heart and countenance among themselves and in their intercourse with their neighbors and men of the world, yet they must be without blame in word and deed.

B. It is therefore not seemly that they indulge in loud and boisterous speech, or in the relating of coarse and vulgar stories, or those in which the names of their God and their Redeemer are blasphemed.

C. Men of God, who bear the vessels of the Lord, be ye clean in your bodies and in your clothing; let your garments be of a sober character and free from excess of ornamentation.

D. Avoid the use of tobacco and be not addicted to strong drink in any form, that your counsel to be temperate may be made effectual by your example.


A. That the work of restoration to which the people of my church are looking forward may be hastened in its time, the elders must cease to be overcareful concerning the return of those who were once of the faith but were overcome in the dark and cloudy day, fearing lest they should bring in hidden heresies to the overthrowing of the work;

B. for verily, there are some who are chosen vessels to do good, who have been estranged by the hindering snares which are in the world and who will in due time return unto the Lord if they be not hindered by the men of the church.

C. The Spirit says “Come”; let not the ministers for Christ prevent their coming.


A. And the Spirit saith further: Contention is unseemly; therefore, cease to contend respecting the sacrament and the time of administering it;

B. for whether it be upon the first Lord’s day of every month, or upon the Lord’s day of every week, if it be administered by the officers of the church with sincerity of heart and in purity of purpose, and be partaken of in remembrance of Jesus Christ and in willingness to take upon them his name by them who partake, it is acceptable to God.

C. To avoid confusion let him who presides in the sacrament meeting, and those who administer it cause that the emblems be duly prepared upon clean vessels for the bread and clean vessels for the wine, or the water, as may be expedient;

D. and the officer may break the bread before it is blessed, and pour the wine before it is blessed; or he may, if he be so led, bless the bread before it be broken and the wine before it be poured;

E. nevertheless both bread and wine should be uncovered when presented for the blessing to be asked upon it.

F. It is expedient that the bread and wine should be administered in the early part of the meeting, before weariness and confusion ensue.

G. Let him that partaketh and him that refraineth cease to contend with his brother that each may be benefited when he eateth at the table of the Lord.


A. The service of song in the house of the Lord with humility and unity of Spirit in them that sing and them that hear is blessed, and acceptable with God; but song with grievous sadness in them that sing and bitterness of spirit in them that hear is not pleasing to God.

B. Therefore, in all the congregations of the people of God, let all strife and contention concerning song service cease;

C. and that the worship in the house of the Lord may be complete and wholly acceptable, let them who shall be moved thereto by a desire and the gift to sing take upon them the burden and care of the service, and use therein instruments of music of the reed and of the string, or instruments of brass in congregations that are large, and as wisdom and choice may direct.

D. Let the young men and the maidens cultivate the gifts of music and of song; let not the middle-aged and the old forget the gladsomeness of their youth and let them aid and assist so far as their cares will permit; and remember that Saints should be cheerful in their warfare that they may be joyous in their triumph.

E. Nevertheless, let the organ and the stringed instrument, and the instrument of brass be silent when the Saints assemble for prayer and testimony, that the feelings of the tender and sad may not be intruded upon.

F. To facilitate unity in the song service of the church those to whom the work of providing a book of song has been intrusted may hasten their work in its time.


A. And the Spirit saith further: Inasmuch as there has been much discussion in the past concerning the Sabbath of the Lord, the church is admonished that until further revelation is received, or the quorums of the church are assembled to decide concerning the law in the church articles and covenants,

B. the Saints are to observe the first day of the week commonly called the Lord’s day, as a day of rest: as a day of worship, as given in the covenants and commandments.

C. And on this day they should refrain from unnecessary work; nevertheless, nothing should be permitted to go to waste on that day, nor should necessary work be neglected.

D. Be not harsh in judgment but merciful in this, as in all other things. Be not hypocrites nor of those who make a man an offender for a word.


A. Prosecute the missionary work in this land and abroad so far and so widely as you may.

B. All are called according to the gifts of God unto them; and to the intent that all may labor together, let him that laboreth in the ministry and him that toileth in the affairs of the men of business and of work labor together with God for the accomplishment of the work intrusted to all.


A. Be clean, be frugal, cease to complain of pain and sickness and distress of body; take sleep in the hours set apart by God for the rebuilding and strengthening of the body and mind;

B. for even now there are some, even among the elders, who are suffering in mind and body, who have disregarded the advice of the Spirit to retire early and to rise early that vigor of mind and body should be retained.

C. Bear the burdens of body of which the Spirit of healing from the Lord in faith, or the use of that which wisdom directs does not relieve or remove, and in cheerfulness do whatever may be permitted you to perform that the blessing of peace may be upon all. Amen.

Kirtland, Ohio April 11, 1887