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
1. There is a bill of indictment against those who declare to the world they are not the children of God—all profane people. These have damnation written upon their forehead.
Scoffers at religion. It were blasphemy to call these the children of God. Will a true child jeer at his Father’s picture?
Drunkards, who drown reason and stupefy conscience. These declare their sin as Sodom! They are children indeed—but ‘cursed children!’ (2 Peter 2:14).
2. Exhortation to believers, which consists of two branches.
 Let us prove ourselves to be the children of God.
 Let us carry ourselves as the children of God.
 Let us prove ourselves to be the children of God. There are many false and unscriptural evidences.
Says one, ‘The minister thinks me to be godly, and can he be mistaken?’
Others can but see the outward carriage and deportment. If that is fair, the minister may by the rule of charity, judge well of you. But what does God say? He is your judge. Are you a saint in God’s calendar? It is a poor thing to have an applauding world—and an accusing God.
‘Oh but,’ says another, ‘I hope I am a child of God; I love my heavenly Father.’
Why do you love God? Perhaps because God gives you food and wine. This is a mercenary love, a love to yourself more than to God. You may lead a sheep all the field over with a bunch of hay in your hand—but throw away the hay, now the sheep will follow you no longer. So the squint-eyed hypocrite loves God only for the provender. When this fails, his affection fails too.
But leaving these vain and false evidences of adoption, let us enquire for a sound evidence. The main evidence of adoption is sanctification. Search, O Christian, whether the work of sanctification has passed upon your soul! Is your understanding sanctified to discern the things which are excellent? Is your will sanctified to embrace heavenly objects? Do you love where God loves—and hate where God hates? Are you a holy person? This argues the heart of a child of God. God will never reject those who have his image and superscription upon them!
 Let us walk as befits the children of God, and let us deport ourselves as the children of the holy God.
Let us walk as the children of God, in OBEDIENCE. ‘As obedient children’ (1 Peter 1:14). If a stranger bids a child to do a thing, he regards him not. But if his father commands—he presently obeys. Obey God out of love, obey him readily, obey every command. If he bids you to part with your bosom-sin, leave and loathe it. ‘I set cups and jugs of wine before them and invited them to have a drink, but they refused. “No,” they said. “We don’t drink wine, because Jehonadab son of Recab, our ancestor, gave us this command—You and your descendants must never drink wine.’ (Jeremiah 35:5, 6). Thus when Satan and your own heart would be tempting you to a sin and set cups of wine before you, refuse to drink. Say, ‘My heavenly Father has commanded me not to drink!’ Hypocrites will obey God in some things which are consistent either with their credit or profit—but in other things they desire to be excused. Like Esau who obeyed his father in bringing him venison, because probably he liked the sport of hunting—but refused to obey him in a business of greater importance, namely, in the choice of his wife.
Let us walk as the children of God, in HUMILITY. ‘Be clothed with humility’ (1 Peter 5:5). Humility is a lovely garment. Let a child of God look at his face every morning in the looking-glass of God’s Word and see his sinful spots. This will make him walk humbly all the day after. God cannot endure to see his children grow proud. He allows them to fall into sin, as he did Peter, that their plumes of pride may fall off, and that they may walk humbly.
Let us walk as the children of God, in SOBRIETY. ‘But let us who are of the day be sober’ (1 Thessalonians 5:8). God’s children must not do as others. They must be sober.
Our speech must be sober—not rash, not unfitting. ‘Let your speech be seasoned with salt’ (Colossians 4:6). Grace must be the salt which seasons our words and makes them savory. Our words must be solid and weighty, not feathery. God’s children must speak the language of Canaan. Many pretend to be God’s children—but their speech betrays them. Their lips do not drop as a honeycomb—but are like the sink, where all the filth of the house is carried out.
The children of God must be sober in their opinions; hold nothing but what a sober man would hold. ‘Error,’ as Basil says, ‘is a spiritual intoxication, a kind of frenzy.’ If Christ were upon the earth again, he would have patients enough. There are an abundance of spiritual lunatics among us which need healing.
The children of God must be sober in their attire. ‘Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God’ (1 Peter 3:3-4). God’s children must not be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). It is not for God’s children to do as others, taking up every fashion. What is a naked breast but a looking-glass in which you may see a vain heart? Walk soberly.
Let us walk as the children of God, in our LABORS. We must be diligent in our calling. Religion does not seal warrants to idleness. It was Jerome’s advice to his friend, to be always well employed. ‘Six days shall you labor’. God sets all his children to work. They must not be like the ‘lilies which neither toil nor spin’. Heaven indeed is a place of rest. ‘They rest from their labors’ (Revelation 14:13). There the saints shall lay aside all their working tools, and take the harp and violin—but while we are here, we must labor in a calling. God will bless our diligence, not our laziness.
Let us walk as the children of God, in MAGNANIMITY and courage. The saints are highborn. They are of the true blood-royal, born of God. They must do nothing sneakingly or sordidly. They must not fear the faces of men. As said that brave-spirited Nehemiah, ‘Shall such a man as I flee?’ (Nehemiah 6:11) so should a child of God say, Shall I be afraid to do my duty? Shall I unworthily comply and prostitute myself to the lusts and desires of men? The children of the most High should do nothing to stain or dishonor their noble birth. A king’s son scorns to do anything that is below him.
Let us walk as the children of God, in SANCTITY (1 Peter 1:16). Holiness is the diadem of beauty. In this let us imitate our heavenly Father. A debauched child is a disgrace to his father. There is nothing which more casts a reflection on our heavenly Father, than the unholy lives of such as profess themselves his children. What will others say? ‘Are these the children of the holy God? Can God be their Father?’ ‘The world blasphemes the name of God because of you’ (Romans 2:24). Oh let us do nothing unworthy of our heavenly Father.
Let us walk as the children of God, in CHEERFULNESS. ‘Why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?’ (2 Samuel 13:4). Why do the children of God walk so pensively? Are they not ‘heirs of heaven’? Perhaps they may meet with hard usage in the world—but let them remember they are the seed-royal, and are of the family of God. Suppose a man were in a strange land, and should meet there with unkind usage—yet he rejoices that he has a great estate in his own country. Just so, should the children of God comfort themselves with this, though they are now in a strange country—yet they have a title to the Jerusalem above; and though sin at present hangs about them (for they still have some relics of their disease) yet shortly they shall get rid of it. At death they shall shake off this viper!
Let us walk as the children of God, in holy LONGINGS and expectations. Children are always longing to be at home. ‘Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.’ (2 Corinthians 5:2). There is bread enough in our Father’s house. How should we long for home! Death carries a child of God to his Father’s house! Paul desired ‘to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!’ It is comfortable dying, when by faith we can resign up our souls into our Father’s hands. ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46).