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
How Christians should bring up their children
There are two reasons why a godly parent will endeavor to bring his child into the heavenly family:
 Out of conscience. A godly parent sees the injury he has done to his child. He has conveyed the plague of sin to him, and in conscience he will endeavor to make some recompense. In the old law, he who had smitten and wounded another was bound to see him healed and pay for his cure. Parents have given their children a wound in their souls, and therefore must do what in them lies by admonition, prayers, and tears—to see the wound healed.
 Out of flaming zeal to the honor of God. He who has tasted God’s love in adoption, looks upon himself as engaged to bring God all the glory he can. If he has a child or acquaintance who are strangers to God, he would gladly promote the work of grace in their hearts. It is a glory to Christ when multitudes are born to him.
How far are they from being God’s children who have no care to bring others into the family of God! To blame are those masters, who mind more their servants’ work than their souls. To blame are those parents who disregard the spiritual welfare of their children. They do not drop in principles of knowledge into them—but allow them to have their own way. They will let them lie and swear—but not pray for them. They will let them read play-books—but not Scripture.
‘These words which I command you this day, you shall teach them diligently to your children’ (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7). ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22:6). ‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). This threefold cord of Scripture is not easily broken.
The saints of old were continually grafting principles of holy knowledge in their children. ‘I know that Abraham will command his children, and they shall keep the way of the Lord’ (Genesis 18:19). ‘And you Solomon, my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a perfect heart’ (1 Chronicles 28:9). What need is there of instilling holy instructions to overtop the poisonful weeds of sin which grow in our children’s hearts! As farmers, when they have planted young trees, they set stays to them to keep them from bending. Children are young plants. The heavenly precepts of their parents are like stays set about them, to keep them from bending to error and profaneness. When can there be a fitter season to disseminate and infuse knowledge into children, than when they are young? Now is a time to give them the breast and let them suck in the ‘sincere milk of the word’ (1 Peter 2:2).
But some may object that it is to no purpose to teach our children the knowledge of God. They have no sense of spiritual things, nor are they the better for our instructions. I answer:
We read in Scripture of children who by virtue of instruction have had their tender years sanctified. Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him the Scriptures from his cradle: ‘And that from a child you have known the holy Scriptures’ (2 Timothy 3:15). Timothy sucked in Scripture, as it were with his milk. We read of young children who cried ‘Hosanna’ to Christ and trumpeted forth his praises (Matthew 21:15).
And again, suppose our counsel and instruction does not at present prevail with our children, it may afterwards take effect. The seed a man sows in his ground does not immediately spring up—but in its season it brings forth a crop. He who plants a tree does not see the full growth until many years after. If we must not instruct our children because at present they do not reap the benefit, by the same reason ministers should not preach the Word, because at present many of their hearers have no benefit.
Again, if our counsels and admonitions do not prevail with our children—yet ‘we have delivered our own souls’. There is comfort in the discharge of conscience. We cannot control the outcome of our instructions. Duty is our work; success is God’s work.
All which considered, should make parents persevere in giving holy instructions to their children. Those who are of the family of God and whom he has adopted for children, will endeavor that their children may be more God’s children than theirs. They will ‘travail in birth until Christ is formed in them’. A true saint is a loadstone that will be drawing others to God. Let this suffice to have spoken of the signs of adoption. I proceed.
5. The fifth particular to be discussed is the love of God in making us children. ‘Behold! How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!’ (1 John 3:1). God showed power in making us his creatures—but his love in making us his sons. Plato gave God thanks that he had made him a man and not a beast—but what cause have they to adore God’s love, who has made them his children! The apostle adds a ‘Behold!’ to it. That we may the better behold God’s love in making us children, consider three things.
1. We were deformed—so did not DESERVE to be made God’s children. ‘When I passed by you and saw you polluted in your own blood, it was the time of love’ (Ezekiel 16:6, 8). Mordecai adopted Esther because she was lovely—but we were in our blood, and then God adopted us. He did not adopt us when we were clothed with the robe of innocence in paradise, when we were hung with the jewels of holiness; but when we were in our blood and had our leprous spots upon us! The time of our loathing—was the time of God’s loving!
2. As we did not deserve to be made God’s children, so neither did we DESIRE it. No rich man will force another to become his heir against his will. If a king should go to adopt a beggar and make him heir of the crown, if the beggar should refuse the king’s favor and say, ‘I had rather be a beggar still—I do not want your riches’; the king would take it in high contempt of his favor, and would not adopt him against his will. Thus it was with us. We had no willingness to be made God’s children. We desired to be beggars still—but God out of his infinite mercy and indulgence, not only offers to make us children—but makes us willing to embrace the offer (Psalm 110:3). What stupendous love was this!
3. It is the wonder of love that God should adopt us for his children, when we were ENEMIES. If a man would make another heir of his land, he would adopt one who is near akin to him. No man would adopt an enemy. But that God should make us his children—when we were his enemies; that he should make us heirs to the crown—when we were traitors to the crown—oh amazing, astonishing love! What stupendous love was this! We were not akin to God. We had by sin lost and forfeited our pedigree. We had done God all the injury and spite we could, defaced his image, violated his law, trampled upon his mercies—but when we had angered him, he adopted us. What stupendous love was this! Such love was never shown to the angels! When they fell (though they were of a more noble nature, and in probability might have done God more service than we can)—yet God never gave this privilege of adoption to them. He did not make them children—but prisoners. They were heirs only to ‘the treasures of wrath’! (Romans 2:5).
Let all who are thus nearly related to God, stand admiring his love. When they were like Saul, breathing forth enmity against God; when their hearts stood out as garrisons against him, the Lord conquered their stubbornness with kindness, and not only pardoned—but adopted them. It is hard to say which is greater—the mystery, or the mercy. This is such amazing love as we shall be searching into and adoring to all eternity! The bottom of it cannot be fathomed by any angel in heaven. God’s love in making us children is a rich love. It is love in God to feed us—but it is rich love to adopt us! It is love to give us a crumb—but it is rich love to make us heirs to a crown!
It is a distinguishing love, that when God has passed by so many millions, he should cast a favorable aspect upon you! Most are made vessels of wrath, and fuel for hell. And that God should say to you, ‘You are my son’, here is the depth of mercy, and the height of love! Who, O who, can tread upon these hot coals, and his heart not burn in love to God!