Joseph had to endure the archers of ENVY. When he was a boy, his father loved him. The youth was fair and beautiful; in person he was to be admired; moreover, he had a mind that was gigantic, and an intellect that was lofty; but, best of all, in him dwelt the Spirit of the living God.
He was one who talked with God; a
youth of piety and prayerfulness; beloved of God, even more than he was
by his earthly father. O! how his father loved him! for in his fond
affection, he made him a princely coat of many colors, and treated him
better than the others—a natural but foolish way of showing his
Therefore his brethren hated him. Full often did they jeer at
the youthful Joseph, when he retired to his prayers; when he was with
them at a distance from his father's house, he was their drudge, their
slave; the taunt, the jeer, did often wound his heart, and the young
child endured much secret sorrow.
On an ill day, as it happened, he was
with them at a distance from home, and they thought to slay him; but
upon the entreaty of Reuben, they put him into a pit, until, as
Providence would have it, the Ishmaelites did pass that way.
sold him for the price of a slave, stripped him of his coat, and sent
him naked, they knew not, and they cared not, whither, so long as he
might be out of their way, and no longer provoke their envy and their
Oh! the agonies he felt—parted from his father, losing his
brethren, without a friend, dragged away by cruel man-sellers, chained
upon a camel it may be, with fetters on his hands.
Those who have borne
the gyves and fetters, those who have felt that they were not free men,
that they had not liberty, might tell how sorely the archers grieved him
when they shot at him the arrows of their envy.
He became a slave, sold
from his country, dragged from all he loved. Farewell to home and all
its pleasures—farewell to a father's smiles and tender cares. He must be
a slave, and toil where the slave's task-master makes him; he must be
stripped in the streets, he must be beaten, he must be scourged, he must
be reduced from the man to the animal, from the free man to the slave.
Truly the archers sorely shot at him.
And, my brethren, do you hope, if
you are the Lord's Josephs, that you shall escape envy? I tell you, nay;
that green-eyed monster, envy, lives in London as well as elsewhere,
and he creeps into God's church, moreover.
Oh! it is hardest of all, to
be envied by one's brethren. If the devil hates us, we can bear it; if
the foes of God's truth speak ill of us, we buckle up our harness, and
say, "Away, away, to the conflict."
But when the friends within the
house slander us; when brethren who should uphold us, turn our foes; and
when they try to tread down their brethren; then, sirs, there
is some meaning in the passage, "The archers have sorely grieved him,
and shot at him, and hated him."
But, blessed be God's name, it is sweet
to be informed that "his bow abode in strength." None of you can be the
people of God without provoking envy; and the better you are, the more
you will be hated.
The ripest fruit is most pecked by the birds, and the
blossoms that have been longest on the tree, are the most easily blown
down by the wind.
But fear not; you have naught to do with what man
shall say of you. If God loves you, man will hate you; if God honors
you, man will dishonor you.
But recollect, could ye wear chains of iron
for Christ's sake, ye should wear chains of gold in heaven; could ye
have rings of burning iron round your waists, ye should have your brow
rimmed with gold in glory; for blessed are ye when men shall say all
manner of evil against you falsely, for Christ's name's sake; for so
persecuted they the prophets that were before you.
The first archers
were the archers of envy.