To be a child is not necessarily to be a son or daughter. The childship is the lower condition of the upward process towards the sonship. God can no more than an earthly parent be content to have only children: he must have sons and daughters—children of his soul, of his spirit, of his love---not merely in the sense that he loves them, or even that they love him, but in the sense that they love like him, love as he loves. For this he does not adopt them; he dies to give them himself, thereby to raise his own to his heart; he gives them a birth from above; they are born again out of himself and into himself. His children are not his real, true sons and daughters until they think like him, feel with him, judge as he judges, are at home with him and without fear before him because he and they love the same things, seek the same ends. For this are we created; it is the one end of our being. He is our father all the time, for he is true; but until we respond with the truth of children, he cannot let all the father out to us; there is no place for the dove of his tenderness to alight. He is our father, but we are not his children. Because we are his children, we must become his sons and daughters. Nothing will satisfy him, or do for us, but that we be one with our father! What else could serve! How else should life ever be a good! Because we are the sons of God, we must become the sons of God.
The Father would make to himself sons and daughters as shall be his sons and daughters not merely by having come from his heart, but by having returned thither—children in virtue of being such as whence they came, such as choose be what he is. He will have them share in his being and nature—strong wherein he cares for strength; tender and gracious as he is tender and gracious; angry where and as he is angry Even in the small matter of power, he will have them able to do whatever his Son Jesus could on the earth, whose was the life of the perfect man, whose works were those of perfected humanity. Everything must at length be subject to man, as it was to The Man. When God can do what he will with a man, the man may do what he will with the world; he may walk on the sea like his Lord; the deadliest thing will not be able to hurt him: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater than these shall he do.”
He has made us, but we have to be. Those who live as Jesus lived—by obedience, namely, to the Father, have a share in their own making; the light becomes life in them. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” He does not make them the sons of God, but he gives them power to become the sons of God: in choosing and obeying the truth, man becomes the true son of the Father of lights.
In keeping with St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, 4:1-7, while we but obey the law God has laid upon us, without knowing the heart of the Father whence comes the law, we are but slaves—not necessarily ignoble slaves, yet slaves; but when we come to think with him, when the mind of the son is as the mind of the Father, then is the son of the Father, then are we the sons of God.
Children we were; true sons we could never be, save through The Son. He brothers us. He takes us to the knees of the Father, beholding whose face we grow sons indeed. Never could we have known the heart of the Father, never felt it possible to love him as sons, but for him who cast himself into the gulf that yawned between us. In and through him we were foreordained to the sonship: sonship, even had we never sinned, never could we reach without him. We should have been little children loving the Father indeed, but children far from the sonhood that understands and adores. “For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are sons of God;” “If any man hath not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” There is no unity but having the same spirit. There is but one spirit, that of truth.