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BY EDWARD KIG, D.D.
" What is man, that Thou art mindful of him ? and the son of
man, that Thou visitest him ? Thou madest him lower
than the angels, to crown him with glory and worship.
Thou makest him to have dominion of the works of Thy
hands ; and Thou hast put all things in subjection under
his feet" — PSALM viu. 4-6.
r I ^HE object of this Psalm has sometimes been misunder
stood. It has been thought that the Psalmist's
object was to set forth the littleness and weakness of man,
and then finally by contrast to bring out the greater glory
and majesty of God — " O Lord our Governor, how excellent
is Thy name in all the world ; Thou that hast set Thy
glory above the heavens " ; " For I will consider Thy
heavens, even the works of Thy fingers, the moon and the
stars, which Thou hast ordained ".
The Psalm appears to have been composed in the night,
perhaps by David, in one of the night-watches of his sheep,
when a youth on the hills of Bethlehem, for it is remark
able that there is no mention of the sun. He looks up to
the heavens and beholds the moon and the stars in all their
myriad brilliancy, hanging as they seem to hang in the
darkness of an eastern sky with a peculiar nearness and
Such a contemplation of the starry heavens might in-
1 An Address delivered in Lincoln Cathedral to the Members of the
Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 4 August, 1885.
MA, GOD'S VICEGERET O EARTH 207
deed be a fitting ground for the thought of man's littleness
and God's greatness ; but such does not seem, on reflection,
to have been the Psalmist's purpose, but rather the reverse.
His object in the Psalm was not to make man feel his
littleness ; not to crush man, but to set forth the greatness,
the supremacy, the royalty of man ; and thus from man's
greatness as the king and lord of creation to rise to the
consideration of God's goodness from Whom all these
good things have come, and thus to God's own still greater
majesty as the King of kings and Lord of lords, Whose
glory and power are made manifest in that He has placed
man, apparently so weak, so small, in the midst of the
mighty forces which are around him (the moon and the
stars in the heavens, the beasts on the earth, the fishes in
the sea), and yet made them all obey him.
" What is man, that Thou art mindful of him ? and the
son of man that Thou visitest him ? Thou makest him to
have dominion of the works of Thy hands ; and Thou
hast put all things in subjection under his feet ; all sheep
and oxen ; yea, and the beasts of the field ; the fowls of
the air, and the fishes of the sea ; and whatsoever walketh
through the paths of the seas."
Thus the true object of the Psalm is to show the great
ness of God, not by contrast with the littleness and weak
ness of man, but by the consideration of the strength and
greatness of man standing as God's vicegerent upon the
earth, to discover and command the mighty forces of
creation, and rule them in the name of God for the good
of mankind and for His glory.
It is, brethren, in accordance with this meaning of the
Psalm that I desire to offer you a sincere, hearty, and grate
ful welcome to this our ancient See and City of Lincoln.
The object of your Association, as I understand it, is
to promote the science and practice of mechanical engineer
ing in all branches of mechanical construction, and to give
208 LICOL SERMOS
an impulse to inventions likely to be useful, not only to
members of this Institution but to the community at large.
ow this means, surely, the scientific consideration of the
varied forces in nature, whatever they may be, whether of
light or heat, of coal or iron, of water, or of electricity,
and making them subservient to the wants and will of man.
It is, in other words, to put man in touch with the subtle
forces of creation which the Creator has placed round
about him, and thus to give to man a yet further extension
of the mighty monarchy which he already surveys.
The effect of your Association, then, is the gathering
of new jewels for a still more splendid crown for man. If
the general objects of your Association are so admirable,
so, I would venture to say, are such assemblies of the
members of your Association, as you have gathered here
in Lincoln, wise and good also.
As sciences work on to perfection, there is, practically,
a tendency to division. The village doctor is physician,
surgeon, dentist, oculist, aurist, all in one ; but if the
higher knowledge in the great science of medicine is re
quired, there must be division ; and different persons, and
different cities, and different countries must be visited,
before we can obtain the information we desire. It is the
same in other sciences.
In the great science of war (whose end and glory should
be peace) there is the same principle of division. With the
wild troops of uncivilized countries the innate and noble
bravery arms itself as best it can. In scientific warfare we
have infantry and cavalry, artillery, and, guiding them all,
the engineers ; and it is so (is it not?) with the civil en
gineer. Fifty years ago the business of the mechanical
engineer was general, the same man was the maker of
marine engines, locomotives, mill work, and engines for the
land ; now the locomotive and the marine engine occupy
separate interests. or is that all : in the beginning of the
MA, GOD'S VICEGERET O EARTH 209
science the same man made many or all of the parts of the
engine on which he was engaged ; but in the progress and
consequent division of the science, one firm will devote
itself to one kind of machinery, and one set of men to one
particular part of the particular engine that is to be made.
The danger of such separation is obvious : it narrows
the interests of the workman, it drops a man down from
the scientific consideration of the whole to the construction
of a particular part, it causes him to lose sight of the various
forces which other industries are discovering.
What is needed then in the progress of science is to
keep the separate parts into which it is constantly dividing
constantly re-invigorated, by bringing them into relation
with the scientific principle which is animating the whole.
You need to teach the individual artisan, or the depart
mental engineer, to connect phenomena with law, acts
with principles, effects with causes ; to teach him, in a right
sense, to philosophize, that is to attain to true enlargement
of mind. It is for this reason (among others) that Schools
of Art and Mechanics' Institutes are so valuable, because
they lift up the intelligent mechanic out of the groove of
his daily work, and refresh and enlarge his mind by the
sight of the principles and laws which govern the details of
his daily toil; and hence it is that these Conferences of
your Association appear to me to be so wise, because they
enable the followers of one kind of scientific discovery to
contribute their results to others ; they offer an opportunity
for mutual interchange of results from the separate con
sideration of the common work. Such Conferences provide
a remedy for the evils of scientific division, refreshing and
re-invigorating the several parts by a consciousness of their
It is not for me to attempt to enter in detail on the
treasures you have brought with you for each other's good ;
the interest of them must be, I feel sure, intense. There
210 LICOL SERMOS
will be possibly new suggestions for bringing into profit
able subjection forces which we feel and see around us, but
which we can still so little use : the regular pressure of the
tidal wave, and the wild gusts of the winds. Are there not
forces in the air above us which may enable us in years to
come to move through the shifting clouds as safely as we
move now over the once apparently insuperable dangers of
the sea ?
There will be doubtless suggestions for economy in the
use of the forces we can already control : the saving of
waste in all kinds of coal, the reduction of friction, the
simplification of construction with the increased complexity
of action in machinery, the multiplied effects of a single
There will be, too, the unselfish consideration for those
who are to come after us, and the desire for the discovery
of new combinations by which the less precious materials
may be used with the more costly : so as to leave to those
who follow us not only the treasures of our own inventions,
but the example of unselfish thrift in the stores of the best
material left unexhausted.
These, and many such-like suggestions, are not for me
to make : rather it is my duty now to point out to you the
sincerity of my words when I bid you a hearty and grateful
welcome to our ancient See and City of Lincoln. I do so
as the last, and unworthy, occupant of this ancient See,
which unrolls a list of Bishops running back in unbroken
succession for more than eight hundred years. The times
have changed, and great social progress has been made in
England during these centuries ; and yet it is our boast
and glory that we teach the same faith unchanged which
was once delivered to the saints — a faith which we believe
will remain unchanged, and yet be found equal to the needs
of humanity as its capacities develop.
It is because I believe the tendency of the results of
MA, GOD'S VICEGERET O EARTH 211
your Association to be in harmony with the ancient faith
that I was able sincerely to bid you a hearty welcome to
our See and City. For surely your labours are tending
more and more to restore man to his original position of
dignity and power, as a king upon this earth.
Consider for a moment. Are you not eliminating the
lower kinds of toil, and substituting mechanical contrivance
and intellectual skill for brute force, making the inanimate
irrational forces obey man's will, and do his rougher work ?
Last week when I was visiting the docks at Grimbsy, I
could not but admire the ease and grace with which the
hydraulic crane, worked without effort by a lad of sixteen,
lifted the ship's cargo with noiseless regularity, and placed
it, with a gentleness that seemed almost human, in the
truck standing ready on the line. It was impossible not
to admire such a simple scientific triumph, and in that
combination of power and quietness to see a model of that
" gentleness which when it weds with manhood makes the
man ". And all this you do, not to make men idle, but to
relieve them from the burden on the lower faculties, that
they may be free to exercise and develop the higher.
And as you are eliminating the lower kinds of toil, are
you not also eliminating space ? The sea is no longer a
bar of separation between man and his fellow-men. We
pass over its waters, smooth or troubled, with more speed
and regularity and safety than our forefathers travelled on
their native land. Our railways, our telegraphs, our tele
phones, are eliminating space, and bringing the ends of the
earth together. And what does all this tend to prove, but
that God made " all nations of one blood " ? And what
are all these your scientific achievements eliminating space,
but so many right hands of fellowship and goodwill,
stretching across the world to bring men into unity and
And once more, is it not the pride and boast of your
212 LICOL SERMOS
scientific improvements not only to save labour, but also to
save time ? With the aid of machinery work is done in
a tenth, a hundredth, a thousandth part of the time in
which it could be performed without it ; and yet increased
rapidity of production, and of transit, is, I believe, among
your most constant ambitions.
And what does all this tend to show ? Surely this :
that man is not the creature of an hour, but destined for
eternity ; that his life is not to be for ever spent in toil
and separation from his fellow-men ; but rather that man's
true estate (as God would have him be) is as a deathless
king, reigning in harmony and brotherly love with his
fellow-men throughout eternity.
See, brethren, how sincerely I could offer you a grate
ful welcome to our ancient See and City, as fellow-helpers
in reclaiming the true position of man as the lord and king
of nature's forces. Only, brethren, let me be honest, and,
before I conclude, give you one word of warning, that you
may be sure these words are spoken in sincerity and not
in flattery. The greatness of the prize before you may
tempt you to forget God. Man rules the earth as God's
vicegerent ; as God's vicegerent man must wear His
crown. This is man's true position, as lord of this earth
and controller of its forces, in union with his fellow-men,
giving God the glory. This is man's true greatness — to
live in loving adoration of his God. This Revelation
teaches us in the vision of the elders casting their golden
crowns before the throne ; and to this your scientific as
sociations I trust will tend, setting man free from his
lower labours, and uniting him closer, and yet closer, to
his brother man and to his God.
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