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
But there may be another objection, that sometimes God’s children are under the black clouds of desertion. Is not this far from love?
 I answer, God has a design of mercy in hiding his face from his adopted ones.
First, it is for the TRIAL of grace, and there are two graces brought to trial in time of desertion, faith and love.
Faith: When we can believe against sense and feeling; when we are without experience—yet can trust to a promise; when we do not have the ‘kisses of God’s mouth’—yet can cleave to ‘the word of his mouth’; this is faith indeed. Here is the sparkling of the diamond.
Love: When God smiles upon us—it is not difficult to love him. But when he seems to put us away in anger (Psalm 27:9), now to love him—this is love indeed. That love sure is as ‘strong as death’ (Canticles 8:6) which the waters of desertion cannot quench.
Secondly, it is for the EXERCISE of grace. We are all for comfort. If it be put to our choice, we would be ever upon Mount Pisgah, looking into Canaan. We are loath to be in trials, agonies, desertions—as if God could not love us except he had us in his arms. It is hard to lie long in the lap of spiritual joy—and not fall asleep. Too much sunshine causes a drought in our graces. Oftentimes when God lets down comfort into the heart, we begin to let down our efforts. As it is with musicians, before they have money they will play you many a sweet lesson—but as soon as you throw them down money they are gone. You hear no more of them. Before joy and assurance, O the sweet music of prayer and repentance! But when God bestows the comforts of his Spirit, we either leave off duty or at least slacken the strings of our violin, and grow remiss in it. You are taken with the money—but God is taken with the music. Grace is better than comfort. Rachel is more beautiful—but Leah is more fruitful. Comfort is fair to look upon—but grace has the fruitful womb. Now the only way to exercise grace and make it more vigorous and lively, is sometimes to ‘walk in darkness and have no light’ (Isaiah 50:16). Faith is a star which shines brightest in the night of desertion. ‘I said, I am cast out of your sight; yet will I look again toward your holy temple’ (Jonah 2:4). Grace usually puts forth its most heroic acts at such a time.
 I answer: God may forsake his children in regard of vision—but not in regard of union. Thus it was with Jesus Christ when he cried out, ‘my God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?’ There was not a separation of the union between him and his Father, only a suspension of the vision. God’s love, through the interposition of our sins, may be darkened and eclipsed—but still he is our Father. The sun may be hidden in a cloud—but it is not out of the sky. The promises in time of desertion may be, as it were, sequestered. We do not have the comfort from them as formerly—but still the believer’s union holds good.
 I answer: when God hides his face from his child—his heart may be towards him. As Joseph, when he spoke roughly to his brethren and made them believe he would take them for spies, still his heart was towards them and he was as full of love as ever. He had to go aside and weep. So God is full of love to his children even when he seems to appear withdrawn. And as Moses’ mother when she put her child into the basket in the river, and went away a little from it—yet still her eye was toward it. ‘The babe wept’; yes, and the mother wept too. So God, when he goes aside as if he had forsaken his children—yet he is full of sympathy and love towards them. God may change his countenance—but not break his covenant. It is one thing for God to desert, another thing to disinherit.
‘Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.’ (Hosea 11:8). It is a metaphor taken from a father going to disinherit his son, and while he is setting his hand to the deed, his affections begin to melt and to yearn over him and he thinks thus within himself, ‘Though he is a prodigal child—yet he is my child; I will not disinherit him.’ So says God, ‘How shall I give you up? Though Ephraim has been a rebellious son—yet he is my son, I will not disinherit him.’ God’s thoughts may be full of love when there is a veil upon his face. The Lord may change his dispensation towards his children—but not his disposition. He may have the look of an enemy—but still, the heart of a Father. So that the believer may say, ‘I am adopted; let God do what he will with me; let him take the rod or the staff; it is all the same; He loves me.’
2. The second privilege of adoption is this—if we are his children, then God will bear with many infirmities. A father bears much with a child he loves. ‘I will spare them as a father spares an obedient and dutiful child’ (Malachi 3:17). We often grieve the Spirit, and abuse his kindness. God will pass by much disobedience in his children. ‘He has not seen iniquity in Jacob’ (Numbers 23:21). His love does not make him blind. He sees sin in his people—but not with an eye of revenge. He see their sins with an eye of pity. He sees sin in his children as a physician does a disease in his patient. He has not seen iniquity in Jacob, so as to destroy him. God may use the rod (2 Samuel 7:14), not the scorpion. O how much is God willing to pass by in his children, because they are his children!
God takes notice of the good that is in his children, and passes by the infirmity. God does quite contrary to us. We often take notice of the evil that is in others and overlook the good. Our eye is upon the flaw in the diamond—but we do not observe its sparkling. But God takes notice of the good that is in his children. God sees their faith—and winks at their failings (1 Peter 3:6). ‘Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord’; the Holy Spirit does not mention her unbelief and laughing at the promise—but takes notice of the good in her, namely, her obedience to her husband. ‘She obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord’. God puts his finger upon the scars and infirmities of his children! How much did God wink at—in Israel his firstborn! Israel often provoked him with their murmurings (Deuteronomy 1:27)—but God answered their murmurings with mercies. He spared them as a father spares his son.
3. The third privilege of adoption is this—if we are his children then God will accept of our imperfect services. A parent takes anything in good part from his child. God accepts of the will for the deed (2 Corinthians 8:12). Often times we come with broken prayers—but if we are children, God spells out our meaning and will take our prayers as a grateful present. A father loves to hear his child speak, though he but lisps and stammers. Like a ‘crane, so did I chatter’ (Isaiah 38:14). Good Hezekiah looked upon his praying as chattering—yet that prayer was heard (verse 5). A sigh and groan from a humble heart, goes up as the smoke of incense to God. ‘My groaning is not hidden from you’ (Psalm 38:9).
When all the glistening shows of hypocrites evaporate and come to nothing—a little that a child of God does in sincerity is crowned with acceptance. A father is glad for a letter from his young son, though there are blots in the letter, though there are wrong spellings and broken English. O what blottings are there in our holy things! What broken English sometimes! Yet coming from broken hearts it is accepted. Though there be weakness in duty—yet if there be willingness, the Lord is much taken with it. Says God, “It is my child, and he would do better if he could!” ‘He has accepted us in the beloved!’ (Ephesians 1:6).
4. If we are his children—then God will provide for us. A father will take care for his children. He gives them allowance and lays up a portion (2 Corinthians 12:14). So does our heavenly Father.
He gives us our allowance: ‘The God who fed me all my life long unto this day’ (Genesis 48:15). Whence is our daily bread—but from his daily care? God will not let his children starve, though our unbelief is ready sometimes to question his goodness and say, ‘Can God prepare a table in this wilderness?’ See what arguments Christ brings to prove God’s paternal care for his children. ‘Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?’ (Matthew 6:26). Does a man feed his bird—and will he not feed his child? ‘See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?’ (Luke 12:27). Does God clothe the lilies—and will he not clothe his lambs? ‘Cast all your cares on him—because he cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7). As long as his heart is full of love—so long his head will be full of care for his children. This should be as medicine—to kill the worm of unbelief.
As God gives his children a portion along the way—so he lays up a portion for them in eternity. ‘It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom’ (Luke 12:32). Our Father keeps the purse and will give us enough to bear our charges here—and when at death we shall be set upon the shore of eternity, then will our heavenly Father bestow upon us an eternal and glorious kingdom upon us! Lo, here is a portion which can never be summed up