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The Spiritual Relations of Nature to Man.

The Spiritual Relations of Nature to Man.

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Published by glennpease
BY EDWARD CAIRD.

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon
and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art
mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him ? For
thou hast made him a little lower than the angels (Bevised Version
'a little lower than God'), and hast crowned him with glory and
honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy
hands ; thou hast put all things under his feet. '' Psalm viii. 3-6.
BY EDWARD CAIRD.

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon
and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art
mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him ? For
thou hast made him a little lower than the angels (Bevised Version
'a little lower than God'), and hast crowned him with glory and
honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy
hands ; thou hast put all things under his feet. '' Psalm viii. 3-6.

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Published by: glennpease on Dec 02, 2013
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THE SPIRITUAL RELATIONS OF NATURE TO MAN. BY EDWARD CAIRD."When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him ? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels (Bevised Version 'a little lower than God'), and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands ; thou hast put all things under his feet. '' Psalm viii. 3-6. The doubt as to God's mindfulness of man, which the contemplation of the material universe suggested to the writer of this Psalm, is perhaps not that which  presses with greatest force on modern thought. It was the impression produced by the vastness of the visible creation as contrasted with the littleness, the seeming insignificance of man, which gave rise to the question, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? " The apparent boundlessness of nature, filling the mind of the observer with the sense of the petti-ness of himself and of the fret and fever of his passing life, has often awakened the doubt as to whether he can be, as religious doctrines would have us believe,
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the object of a divine interest or a supernatural inter-300  NATURE AND MAN. 301  position so disproportionate to his real importance. On this difficulty, however, I do not think it necessary to dwell. It is based on a very mistaken criterion of greatness and littleness, and on a superficial or anthropo-morphic conception of the nature of God and of his relations to the world. It conceives of God as a magnified human potentate ruling the universe from some far-off celestial court or seat of government, and virtually represents him as so busied with the great affairs of his vast empire as to overlook the petty concerns of one who occupies so limited a space in it. But there is another aspect of the physical system  by which we are surrounded, which, even more than its vastness or magnitude, seems, especially to modern
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thought, to confiict with the conception of God's individual mindfulness of man, — I mean its unbending constancy and uniformity, the unvarying and unalter-able character of its laws. Can an order which never varies, whose changes and revolution recur with the regularity of a machine, admit of personal sympathy or of adaptation to our individual character and needs ? The form in which the difficulty to which I here refer has most frequently arisen, is that of the compatibility of prayer with the uniformity and unchangeableness of the course of nature. Is there not almost a contradic-tion in terms between the idea of benefits bestowed in answer to prayer, and the recognition of the world in which God has placed us as a vast system of fixed. 302 UNIVERSITY SERMONS. determinate, unchangeable relations, in which every atom has its prescribed place and function, and every event is part of a chain of causes and effects in which the disturbance of a single link would imply the sub-version of the whole ?
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