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
7. The seventh particular to be explained is to show the glorious PRIVILEGES of God’s children. And what I shall say now belongs not to the wicked. It is ‘children’s bread’. The fruit of paradise was to be kept with a flaming sword. So these sweet and heart-ravishing privileges are to be kept with a flaming sword—that impure worldly people may not touch them. There are twelve rare privileges which belong to the children of God.
1. If we are his children, then God will be full of tender love and affection towards us. A father compassionates his child. ‘Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him’ (Psalm 103:13). Oh the yearning of God’s affections to his children! ‘Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? My affections are troubled for him, I will surely have mercy upon him, says the Lord’ (Jeremiah 31:20). Towards the wicked God’s wrath is kindled (Psalm 2:12). Towards those who are children, God’s repentings are kindled (Hosea 11:8). Mercy and pity as naturally flow from our heavenly Father—as light from the sun.
Some may object: But God is angry and writes bitter things. How is this consistent with his love?
God’s love and his anger towards his children are not in opposition. They may stand together. He is angry in love. ‘As many as I love—I rebuke and chasten’ (Revelation 3:19). We have as much need of afflictions as ordinances. A bitter pill may be as needful for preserving health, as a cordial. God afflicts with the same love as he adopts. God is most angry when he is not angry! His hand is heaviest when it is lightest (Hosea 14:4). Affliction is a proof of sonship. ‘If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons’ (Hebrews 12:7).
Why, it is a sign of child-ship to be sometimes under the rod. God had one son without sin—but no son without stripes! God puts his children to the school of the cross—and there they learn best. God speaks to us in the Word, ‘Children, do not be proud, do not love the world; walk in wisdom.’ But, we are ‘dull of hearing’; nay we ‘stop our ear’. ‘I spoke to you in your prosperity—but you said, I will not hear’ (Jeremiah 22:21). ‘Now,’ says God, ‘I shall lose my child if I do not correct him.’ Then God in love smites—that he may save.
Aristotle speaks of a bird which lives among thorns—yet sings sweetly. God’s children make the best melody in their heart, when God ‘hedges their way with thorns’ (Hosea 2:6). Afflictions are refining. ‘The refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold’ (Proverbs 17:3). Fiery trials make golden Christians. Afflictions are purifying. ‘Many shall be tried and made white’ (Daniel 12:10). We think God is going to destroy us—but he only lays us a-whitening. Some birds will not hatch but in time of thunder. Christians are commonly best in affliction. God will make his children at last bless him for sufferings. The eyes that sin shuts—affliction opens! When Manasseh was in chains, ‘then he knew the Lord was God’ (2 Chronicles 33:13). Afflictions fit for heaven.
First the stones of Solomon’s temple were hewn and polished—and then set up into a building. First the saints (who are called ‘living stones’) must be hewn and carved by sufferings, as the corner stone was, and so made fit for the celestial building (Colossians 1:12). And is there not love in all God’s Fatherly chastisements?
But there may be another objection, that sometimes God’s children are under the black clouds of desertion. Is not this far from love?
Concerning desertion, I must needs say that this is the saddest condition that can betide God’s children. When the sun is gone—the dew falls. When the sunlight of God’s countenance is removed—then the dew of tears falls from the eyes of the saints. In desertion God rains hell out of heaven (to use Calvin’s expression). ‘The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinks up my spirit, Job 6:4). This is the poisoned arrow that wounds to the heart. Desertion is a taste of the torments of the damned. God says, ‘In a little wrath I hid my face from you’ (Isaiah 54:8). I may here gloss with Bernard, ‘Lord, do you call that a little wrath when you hide your face? Is it but a little? What can be more bitter to me than the eclipsing of your face?’
God is in the Scripture called a light and a fire. The deserted soul feels the fire but does not see the light. But yet you who are adopted may see love in all this. They say of Hercules’ club, that it was made of wood of the olive tree. The olive is an emblem of peace. So God’s club, whereby he beats down the soul in desertion, has something of the olive tree. There is peace and mercy in it. I shall hold forth a spiritual rainbow wherein the children of God may see the love of their Father, in the midst of the clouds of desertion.
Therefore I answer:
 In time of desertion God leaves in his children a seed of comfort. ‘His seed remains in him’ (1 John 3:9). This seed of God is a seed of comfort. Though God’s children in desertion lack the seal of the Spirit—yet they have the unction of the Spirit (1 John 2:27). Though they lack the sun—yet they have a daystar in their hearts. As the tree in winter, though it has lost its leaves and fruit—yet there is sap in the root; so in the winter of desertion there is the sap of grace in the root of the heart. As it is with the sun masking itself with a cloud when it denies light to the earth—yet it gives forth its influence; so though God’s dear adopted ones may lose sight of his countenance—yet they have the influence of his grace.
What grace appears in the time of desertion? I answer:
A high prizing of God’s love. If God should say to the deserted soul, ‘Ask what will you, and it shall be granted’ he would reply, ‘Lord that I might see you; that I may have one golden beam of your love!’ The deserted soul slights all other things in comparison. It is not gardens or orchards, or the most delightful objects which can give him contentment. They are like music to a sad heart. He desires, as Absalom, ‘to see the king’s face’.
A lamenting after the Lord. It is the saddest day for him when the sun of righteousness is eclipsed. A child of God can better bear the world’s stroke—than God’s absence. He is even melted into tears; the clouds of desertion produce spiritual rain, and whence is this weeping—but from love?
Willingness to suffer anything so he may have sight of God. A child of God could be content with Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross—if he were sure Christ were upon it. He could willingly die—if with Simeon he might die with Christ in his arms. Behold here, ‘the seed of God’ in a believer, the work of sanctification, when he lacks the wine of consolation