If you want to believe that Nature is sentient, and both loves and cares for humans, then it helps to live in an area like Concord, MA. The countryside there ripples in gentle folds, dotted with farms and generally prosperous. In Emerson's day, it was a bucolic paradise, close enough to Boston to attract a sophisticated population, and far enough away to be safe from the corrupting influences of civilization.
Emerson's house, The Old Manse (see the painting above), was an attractive one, large enough for his four children, plus servants, plus friends. Thoreau lived there for years, off and on. From the house, Emerson could stroll through peaceful woods and fields, where "Nature, red in tooth and claw" was rarely visible. Instead, his vision of Nature was one of peace and plenty, tamed by farms and made productive by farmers. Emerson could walk philosophically through rain and snow, knowing that his warm, snug abode lay nearby. That takes a lot of the sting out of the cold.
From this comfy position, it's possible for Emerson to write that Nature is a human being's spiritual guide, moral teacher, and source of wisdom. He can advocate contact with Nature as a cure for mental and physical disease, and can, without any sense of hypocrisy or irony, proclaim that Nature directs itself always to the good of humans, with a human-like benevolence. He doesn't mean, of course, that Nature "thinks" the way people think, but he does believe that it was designed (by exactly who or what, Emerson is vague) to benefit people.
Later in the 19th Century, people like Ambrose Bierce looked at this view of nature and scoffed mightily. They found it at best naive, and at worst, unforgiveably anthropocentric. In Emerson's world, humans are at the center of Nature, its point and focus. Nature reasons like a human, behaves like a human, and focuses creative energy on teaching humans and helping them develop sound bodies and minds. Nature functions a lot like a Boy Scout leader, to be honest. It's easy to believe in the utter goodness of Nature when one lives in Concord, and has scenes like the Old North Bridge, above, to comfort one. I still wonder, what would Emerson have thought if he'd lived in Canada and routinely been chased by mad walruses, or perhaps had his aunts nibbled by polar bears? I'm betting Nature wouldn't be so cuddly . . .
Henry David Thoreau, the Iconoclast of Concord, took Emerson at his word and set off, once, into the Maine woods, where he almost died from an overdose of Nature. The awareness that -- gasp -- Nature was indifferent to him created a crisis in his philosophy and a bit of a breach between himself and Emerson. Thoreau remained a Transcendentalist, but he backed way off from the idea that Nature is aware of humans and wants to help them. I think this is the saner, and safer, position.