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
4. The fourth particular to be discussed is to show the SIGNS of God’s children. (Continued)
4. The fourth sign of God’s children is ZEAL for God. They are zealous for his truth, and his glory. Those who are born of God are zealous for his honor. Moses was cool in his own cause—but hot in God’s. When the people of Israel had wrought folly in worshiping the golden calf, he breaks the tables. When Paul saw the people of Athens given to idolatry ‘his spirit was stirred within him’ (Acts 17:16). In the Greek it is his spirit was ’embittered’, or, as the word may signify, he was in a burning fit of zeal. He could not contain himself—but with this fire of zeal, speaks against their sin. As we shall answer for idle words, so for sinful silence. It is dangerous in this sense to be possessed with a ‘dumb devil’. David says, ‘zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult You have fallen on me’ (Psalm 69:9). Many Christians whose zeal once had almost consumed them, now they have consumed their zeal. They are grown tepid and indifferent. The breath of the world blowing upon them has cooled their heat. I can never believe that he has the heart of a child in him—who can be silent when God’s glory suffers. Can a loving child endure to hear his father reproached? Though we should be silent under God’s displeasure—yet not under his dishonor. When there is a holy fire kindled in the heart, it will break forth at the lips! Zeal tempered with holiness, gives the soul its best complexion.
Of all others, let ministers be zealous when God’s glory is impeached and eclipsed. A minister without zeal is like ‘salt which has lost its savor’. Zeal will make men take injuries done to God—as done to themselves. It is reported of Chrysostom, that he reproved any sin against God as if he himself had received a personal wrong. Let not ministers be either shaken with fear—or seduced with flattery. God never made ministers to be as false looking-glasses, to make bad faces look good. For lack of this fire of zeal, they are in danger of another fire, even the ‘burning lake’ (Revelation 21:8), into which the fearful shall be cast!
5. Those who are God’s children and are born of God, are of a more noble and celestial spirit than men of the world. They ‘set their minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (Colossians 3:2). ‘Whoever is born of God, overcomes the world’ (1 John 5:4). The children of God live in a higher region. They are compared to eagles (Isaiah 40:31), in regard of their sublimeness and heavenly-mindedness. Their souls are fled aloft. Christ is in their heart (Colossians 1:27) and the world is under their feet (Revelation 12:1). Men of the world are ever tumbling in thick clay. They are ‘sons of earth’; not eagles—but earthworms.
The saints are of another spirit. They are born of God and walk with God as the child walks with the father. ‘Noah walked with God’ (Genesis 6:9). God’s children show their high pedigree in their heavenly life (Philippians 3:20).
6. Another sign of adoption is love to those who are children. God’s children are knit together with the bond of love, as all the members of the body are knit together by several nerves and ligaments. If we are born of God, then we ‘love the brotherhood’ (1 Peter 2:17); He who loves the person, loves the picture. The children of God are his walking pictures, and if we are of God, we love those who have his effigy and portraiture drawn upon their souls. If we are born of God, we love the saints notwithstanding their infirmities. Children love one another, though they have some imperfections of nature—a squint-eye, or a crooked back. We love gold in the ore, though it has some drossiness in it. The best saints have their blemishes. We read of the ‘spot of God’s children’ (Deuteronomy 32:5). A saint in this life is like a fair face with a scar in it. If we are born of God we love his children though they are poor. We love to see the image and picture of our Father, though hung in ever so poor a frame. We love to see a rich Christ in a poor man.
And if we are children of the Highest, we show our love to God’s children:
 We show our love to the children of God—by prizing them above others. He who is born of God ‘honors those who fear the Lord’ (Psalm 15:4). The saints are the ‘dearly beloved of God’s soul’ (Jeremiah 12:7). They are his ‘jewels’ (Malachi 3:17). They are of the true blood-royal, and he who is divinely adopted sets a higher estimate upon these, than upon others.
 We show our love to the children of God—by prizing their company above others. Children love to associate and be together. The communion of saints is precious. Christ’s doves will flock together in company. ‘Like associates with like’. ‘I am a companion of all those who fear you’ (Psalm 119:63). A child of God has a love of civility to all—but a love of delight only to such as are fellow-heirs with him of the same inheritance.
By this, people may test their adoption. It appears plainly that they are not the children of God—who hate those who are born of God. They soil and blacken the silver wings of Christ’s doves by their aspersive reproaches. They cannot endure the society of the saints. As vultures hate sweet smells, and are killed with them—so the wicked hate to come near the godly. They cannot tolerate the precious perfume of their graces. They hate these sweet smells. It is a sign they are of the serpent’s brood—who hate the seed of the woman.
7. The seventh sign of God’s children is to delight to be much in God’s presence. Children love to be in the presence of their father. Where the king is—there is the court. Where the presence of God is—there is heaven. God is in a special manner present in his ordinances. They are the ark of his presence. Now if we are his children, we love to be much in holy duties. In the use of ordinances we draw near to God. We come into our Father’s presence. In prayer we have secret conference with God. In the Word we hear God speaking from heaven to us, and how does every child of God delight to hear his Father’s voice! In the sacraments God kisses his children with the ‘kisses of his lips’. He gives them a smile of his face and a secret seal of his love. Oh it is ‘good to draw near to God’ (Psalm 73:28). It is sweet being in his presence. Every true child of God says, ‘Better is one day in your courts, than a thousand elsewhere’ (Psalm 84:10). Slighters of ordinances are not God’s children, because they care not to be in his presence. They love the tavern better than the temple! ‘Cain went out from the presence of the Lord’ (Genesis 4:16); not that he could go out of God’s sight (Psalm 139:7)—but the meaning is, Cain went from the church of God where the Lord gave the visible signs of his presence to his people.
8. The eighth sign sign of God’s children is compliance with the will of our heavenly Father. A childlike heart answers to God’s call—as the echo answers to the voice. It is like the flower which opens and shuts with the sun. So it opens to God—and shuts to temptation. This is the motto of a new-born saint, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’ (1 Samuel 3:9). When God bids his children pray in their closets, mortify sin, suffer for his name—they are ambitious to obey. They will lay down their lives at their Father’s call. Hypocrites court God and speak him fair—but refuse to go on his errands. They are not children—but rebels.
9. The last sign sign of God’s children is—he who is a child of God will labor to make others the children of God. The holy seed of grace propagates (Galatians 4:19; Philemon 10). He who is of the seed royal will be ambitiously desirous to bring others into the kindred. Are you divinely adopted? You will studiously endeavor to make your child a child of the most High.