by Thomas Watson
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (v.9)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
“They shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
In these words the glorious privilege of the saints is set down. Those who have made their peace with God and labor to make peace among brethren, this is the great honor conferred upon them, ‘They shall be called the children of God’.
‘They shall be called’, that is, they shall be so reputed and esteemed by God. God never miscalls anything. He does not call them children—who are not children. ‘You shall be called the prophet of the Highest’ (Luke 1:76), that is, you shall be so. They shall be ‘called the children of God’, that is, they shall be accounted and admitted for children.
The proposition resulting is this: that peacemakers are the children of the most High.
God is said in Scripture to have many children:
By eternal generation. Christ alone, is the natural Son of his Father. ‘You are my Son—this day have I begotten you’ (Psalm 2:7).
By creation. So the angels are the sons of God. ‘When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy’ (Job 38:7).
By participation of dignity. So king and rulers are said to be children of the high God. ‘All of you are children of the most High’ (Psalm 82:6).
By visible profession. So God has many children. Hypocrites forge a title of sonship. ‘The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair’ (Genesis 6:2).
By real sanctification. So all the faithful are peculiarly and eminently the children of God.
That I may illustrate and amplify this, and that believers may suck much sweetness out of this gospel-flower, I shall discuss and demonstrate these seven particulars:
1. That naturally we are not the children of God.
2. What it is to be the children of God.
3. How we come to be made children.
4. The signs of God’s children.
5. The love of God in making us children.
6. The honor of God’s children.
7. The privileges of God’s children.
1. Naturally we are not the children of God. As Jerome says, we are not born God’s children but made so. By nature we are strangers to God, swine not sons (2 Peter 2:22). Will a man settle his estate upon his swine? He will give them his acorns, not his jewels. By nature we have the devil for our father: ‘You are of your father the devil (John 8:44). A wicked man may search the records of hell for his pedigree.
2. What it is to be the children of God. This child-ship consists in two things. Adoption; infusion of grace.
Child-ship consists in ADOPTION: ‘That we might receive the adoption of sons’ (Galatians 4:5).
Wherein does the true nature of adoption consist? In three things:
 A transition or translation from one family to another. He who is adopted is taken out of the old family of the devil and hell (Ephesians 2:2, 3), and is made of the family of heaven, of a noble family (Ephesians 2:19). God is his Father, Christ is his elder-brother, the saints co-heir, the angels fellow-servants in that family.
 Adoption consists in an immunity and disobligement from all the laws of the former family. ‘Forget also your father’s house’ (Psalm 45:10). He who is spiritually adopted has now no more to do with sin. ‘Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols?’ (Hosea 14:8). A child of God has indeed to do with sin as with an enemy to which he gives battle—but not as with a master to which he yields obedience. He is freed from sin (Romans 6:7). I do not say he is freed from duty. Was it ever heard that a child should be freed from duty to his parents? This is such a freedom as rebels take.
 Adoption consists in a legal investiture into the rights and royalties of the family into which the person is to be adopted. These are chiefly two:
The first royalty is a new name. He who is divinely adopted assumes a new name; before—a slave; now—a son; before—a sinner; now—a saint. This is a name of honor better than any title of prince or monarch. ‘To him that overcomes I will give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written’ (Revelation 2:17). The white stone signifies remission. The new name signifies adoption, and the new name is put in the white stone to show that our adoption is grounded upon our justification; and this new name is written to show that God has all the names of his children enrolled in the book of life.
The second royalty is a giving the party adopted an interest in the inheritance. The making one a heir, implies a relation to an inheritance. A man does not adopt another to a title but to an estate. So God in adopting us for his children gives us a glorious inheritance: ‘The inheritance of the saints in light’ (Colossians 1:12).
It is pleasant; it is an inheritance in light.
It is safe; God keeps the inheritance for his children (1 Peter 1:4), and keeps them for the inheritance (1 Peter 1:5), so that they cannot be hindered from taking possession.
There is no disinheriting, for the saints are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Nay, they are members of Christ (Colossians 1:18). Until Christ is disinherited, his members cannot be disinherited.
The heirs never die. Eternity is a jewel of their crown. ‘They shall reign forever and ever’ (Revelation 22:5).
Before I pass to the next, here a question may arise. How do God’s adopting, and man’s adopting differ?
1. Man adopts to supply a defect, because he has no children of his own—but God does not adopt upon this account. He had a Son of his own, the Lord Jesus. He was his natural Son and the Son of his love, testified by a voice from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son’ (Matthew 3:17). Never was there any Son so like the Father. He was his exact image, ‘the express image of his person’ (Hebrews 1:3). He was such a Son as was worth more than all the angels in heaven: ‘Being made so much better than the angels’ (Hebrews 1:4); so that God adopts not out of necessity—but pity.
2. When a man adopts, he adopts but one heir—but God adopts many: ‘In bringing many sons to glory’ (Hebrews 2:10). Oh may a poor trembling Christian say, Why should I ever look for this privilege to be a child of God! It is true, if God did act as a man, if he adopted only one son, then you might despair. But he adopts millions. He brings ‘many sons to glory’. Indeed this may be the reason why a man adopts but one, because he does not have enough estate for more. If he should adopt many, his land would not hold out. But God has enough land to give to all his children. ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions’ (John 14:2).
3. Man when he adopts, does it with ease. It is but sealing a deed and the thing is done. But when God adopts, it puts him to a far greater expense. It sets his wisdom on work to find out a way to adopt us. It was no easy thing to reconcile hell and heaven, to make the children of wrath, into the children of the promise; and when God in his infinite wisdom had found out a way, it was no easy way. It cost God the death of his natural Son, to make us his adopted sons. When God was about to constitute us sons and heirs, he could not seal the deed but by the blood of his own Son. It did not cost God as much to make us creatures, as to make us sons. To make us creatures cost but the speaking of a word. To make us sons cost the effusion of blood!
4. Man, when he adopts, settles earthly privileges upon his heir—but God settles heavenly privileges, such as justification and glorification. Men but entail their land upon the people they adopt. God does more. He not only entails his land upon his children—but he entails himself upon them. ‘I will be their God’ (Hebrews 8:10). Not only heaven is their portion—but God himself is their portion!