By RICHARD LUCAS, D. D. [Taken from his Enquiry after HAPPINESS.]


BOSTON, N. E. Printed and Sold by B. Mecom, at the New Printing-Office, near the Town-House.


RULES of Success in TRADE.

MY latter years have been spent mostly a­mong the trading part of mankind; and I have received many obligations from them: and I think myself bound to do them this right, to let the world know, that I have found more honour and gratitude, more clearness and integrity amongst this sort of men, than I ever could amongst others, whose quality and education raised my expectations higher: it will be therefore no small satisfaction to me, if any endeavours of mine can render them any considerable service.

There is no condition of life free from tempta­tions and difficulties, apt to embroil our happiness, and infect our innocence, and therefore neither this of traders; the evils they are subject to, may be reduced to two heads; their miscarrying in trade, or in religion. I will therefore begin with such rules as may serve to prevent the former, and then proceed to such as concern the latter.

If we trace the ruin of such as fail or break, back to its original, we shall find it generally to be either idleness or pride. Idleness, the parent of all sot­tish vices; pride, the parent of expensive follies and ruinous projects. I will therefore lay down these two rules as the foundations of the trader's se­cular prosperity. First, That he must be diligent and industrious. Secondly, That he must not be above his profession.

[Page 4]1. He must be diligent and industrious. You seem born for industry; and though some pretend to be sent into the world only to enjoy a fortune, it is plain you are first to raise one▪ and tho' there may be some fortunate men in the world, that seem to thrive rather by chance than virtue, and owe more to the care of others than their own; yet, I am sure, in the ordinary methods of providence, diligence and industry are the high-way to wealth and plenty; virtue and sobriety to wise and secure enjoyments. And I know not with what con­fidence men can promise themselves the blessing and favour of God on any other terms. He has made nothing on purpose to be idle and useless: the heavenly bodies never cease to yield their light and influence, nor the terrestrial ones their fruit. We ourselves do subsist by a continual motion; and should our blood and spirits grow dull and sluggish, our life must needs expire with their activity. Man is born to labour as the sparks fly upward; our ca­pacities and endowments destine and urge us to it, the necessities and wants of this needy beggarly state (in which nature, how kind soever it was to the golden age, does not furnish us with any thing, without art and industry) exact and demand it, and the laws of human society oblige us to it: for it is but fit that every one should contribute his shot for the entertainment of the publick; and that he should not, like a drone, be feasted and maintained by the labour and travail of others. And so far, lastly, is Christianity from abrogating this law of nature, that it earnestly enforces it. Let ours learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful; that is, that they be not a shame [Page 5] and burden to themselves and families, to the com­monwealth, or Christian profession. Propose not then (I address myself here to apprentices and beginners) propose not to exempt yourselves from that uni­versal law of labour and travail to which the whole creation is subject; you especially who lie under more immediate and particular obligations to it. It is an unaccountable folly for one, who is to make his fortune in the world, to apply himself to trade, rather as a diversion than a business, and to design it only as a support and fund for sloth and luxury. It is madness and phrensie in any one to propose to be Master of his time before he is Master of his trade; and to indulge his pleasures, before he has made provision to defray the expence of them; and yet this, I doubt, is too, too general a practice. Whereas, would young men consider the matter a­right, they would find that they do but prevent their pleasures, by gathering them before they are ripe; and do but make their troubles and vexations end­less, by indulging their ease and laziness too soon. Contradictious projects! to propose at once to live idly, and yet to thrive! to live pleasurably, and grow rich! it is true, there are many traders, who live in much ease and plenty, and make a very hand­some figure in the world, and it is but fit there should be such. Trade is the support and ornament of kingdoms; and no man of sense will any more envy the man of trade his wealth, than the man of the sword his honour, or the man of letters and abilities his places and preferments. But, if I could, I would have men grow up to all these by labour and industry, by an apprenticeship of sobriety and virtue. I would have enjoyment be the reward of [Page 6] merit. I would not have ease and pleasure be ra­vished by the loose and unworthy; but regularly possessed by such as have taken pains to purchase both, and have sense, experience, and virtue e­nough to enjoy them.

Secondly, The trader must not be above his call­ing. Pride and vanity are generally sworn ene­mies, both to the content and prosperity of traders; but then it must be remembred, some are but lightly tinged, others more thoroughly and deeply dyed with these vices. In some they produce only little comical affectations and almost innocent excursions; but in others, very fatal disorders and irregularities. There is no gracefulness in any motion that is not natural. A man of low stature may add something to his height, but nothing to his comeliness, by strutting upon stilts. Nor is there only an ungrace­fulness, but an uneasiness in all affected motions. We are all a little purblind and dim-sighted in this world; and therefore walk more securely in the ways we are acquainted with. But, for my part, when an error is only comical, and exposes men no further than to a little raillery and censure, it is scarce worth my while to prescribe to it; and I cannot tell whether it be worth every man's while to be at the charge of correcting a humour, which if it do a little expose him, does yet please him too. The pride and ambition which I would extirpate, is such a one as I have observed fatal to the tradesman's fortune and repose; such as tempts him to despise and neglect his trade, or puts him upon expences which it cannot maintain, or engages him in bold or hazardous projects. This is an error which I [Page 7] would fain reform; and methinks a few sober re­flections should here prevail. What, can it be sense to make a shew abroad, at the expence of your con­tent and peace at home? what, is it not much bet­ter to be modest and safe, to be humble and at ease, than to suffer daily anxieties and perplexities, and to have your mind always upon the rack, how to answer and satisfy the importunities of pride and vanity? It is worse yet when a short piece of pa­geantry ends in perpetual infamy; when this impor­tunant humour is nourished by robbery and injus­tice, by fraud and cheat, committed upon widows and orphans, acquaintance and friends, and the nearest relations. I must confess, I am amazed to think, that any one's pride should be tickled by a false and fatal grandeur, upheld only by wrong and injustice, and resolving in a moment into indelible shame and unretrievable ruin. For my part, I should in this case look upon bravery, not as the marks of greatness, but ornaments of a sacrifice; not as the pomp of a triumph, but a funeral; and my luscious morsels, how pleasing soever to my palate, would be ready to rise and recoil in my stomach. As to those who seem to scorn their pro­fession, I have but this to say. Let them find out a more thriving one before they leave the old one, before they desert the profession they were bred to, for its meanness. Let them make sure of a more honourable employment; or else the scorn they load their trade with, will be want of sense, not greatness of spirit; a lazy pride, not a generous ambition. And, if so, I am sure there is no pro­fession so mean as that of sloth and looseness.

[Page 8] Sect. 2. The second sort of rules are such as concern the religion of the trader or artisan: for it is to little purpose that he thrive in his secular, if he run out in his Christian calling; for this is to be fortunate, and yet miserable. Therefore,

  • First, He must be sure that his calling be lawful.
  • Secondly, That it be carried on with truth, just­ice, and charity.
  • Thirdly, That his attendance on the business of this world, do not extinguish his concern for a bet­ter; and his trade devour his religion, as Pharaoh's lean kine did the fat ones.
  • Fourthly, That he propose to himself proper and rational ends of trading.

First, He must be sure that his calling be lawful; that is, such as is neither forbidden by any law of God, or the magistrate, nor does, in its own nature, minister to vice. But that I may not per­plex mens minds with unnecessary scruples, and tempt them to doubt of the lawfulness of all trades, that are any way made the instruments of sin and folly▪ you must know, some things minister to sin directly and necessarily; others only accidentally, and not by the immediate intention of the artist or trader, but the abuse of others. The former sort of trades are unlawful in themselves, and no pre­tence can sanctify the use of them: he that directly and immediately ministers to a sin, communicates [Page 9] in the guilt of it; as he that purveys for the lust of others, partakes of the sin of the adulterer and forni­cator: but those which minister not purposely and immediately, but accidentally, are yet in them­selves lawful. Nor shall the trader communicate in those abuses to which the lusts and vanities of others prostitute them. Thus taverns are not un­lawful, because abused by intemperance; nor are all shops of clothing to be shut, because thence peo­ple furnish themselves with such things as inflame their immodesty and pride: the reason is plainly this, because the sin may be separated from the trade; that wine, whose full draughts are by some made use of to the defacing reason and enkindling lust, may as well refresh the weary and delight the mode­rate; those garments which adorn the proud and wanton, may be made use of to add a lustre to great­ness. The inconvenience would be insufferable, if every profession which did but indirectly and casual­ly administer to vice, were therefore sinful: the courts of justice must be laid aside, because often­times the bar and bench have contributed to oppress, injure, and rob in form of law. The pulpit must be forever silenced, because men have sometimes sown the seeds of sedition and slavery from hence. [...]il the arts, either of war or peace, have some­times served the cruelty of the one, and luxury of the other, and by consequence would be banished out of all commonwealths. Yet here it must be confessed, that the more or less tendency any trade hath to the promoting vice, it is in the same proportion the more or less comfortable. And that it imports men, who love their peace and happiness more than gain, not to debauch their callings themselves, by prosti­tuting [Page 10] them to extravagancies and exorbitances: and projecting profit from the intemperances and sins, that is, the ruin of others: for it is not sufficient to the peace and comfort of a good man's mind, that his calling be innocent, if his conduct of it be not so too.

Secondly, Trade ought to be managed with truth, justice and charity: for without these it is only a more cleanly art of cheating or oppression; sins, which I doubt, can receive but little excuse or miti­gation from the custom and practice of them: with­out these, trade cannot be regular and easy, nor gain comfortable and delightful; since no man can have any confidence in the protection of God, when the methods of his thriving are such as merit ven­geance, not a blessing. Nor can I see any thing that can betray men into lying and knavery, but the want of true sense, as well as true faith; since tho' many by under ways have more suddenly enriched themselves; yet it is evident, that the wealth which is more regularly purchased, is more pleasant, du­rable, and lasting; and that honest and equitable dealing is the surest, if not the speediest way to wealth. Nor are there, I believe, many instances of men, who, if they understood their business, have ever suffered much by their uprightness and integrity in dealing; it being very hard to imagine, that a trader should be a loser by those vir­tues which advance credit and reputation. But however this be, I am not now enquiring after wealth, but happiness; to the obtainment of which I am very positive, that the observation of these mea­sures is indispensible, since the contrary must needs [Page 11] pervert the mind, & intangle life: and as they extin­guish in the soul all sparks of honour and greatness; so must they its courage and confidence, tranquil­lity and peace, which can result from nothing, but the due moderation of our affections, and the con­science of our integrity.

Thirdly, The trader's attendance on his calling must not discharge him from his attendance on re­ligion. It is true, it is commonly said, and gene­rally admited that the duty of every one's secular calling is a part of religion; but this ought to be well understood, that so neither a veneration for re­ligion breed a neglect of your callings, nor an over fond opinion of the merit of industry in your call­ing (as if all virtue were comprised in it) breed a contempt of religion: it is fit therefore to put you in mind, that arts and trades have not in themselves any direct or immediate tendency, either to the im­provment of reason, or the production of virtue; they minister to the necessities of this world, not the glories of another; nor are they so much the works of a rational and spiritual, as of a mortal and indi­gent being: from whence it follows, that tho' they are necessary to the present state of things, yet can they deserve to employ you no longer than either the public benefit or private convenience require it; and that you are then only wisely taken up about these, when neither your endowments nor fortunes capacitate you for a relief more immediately and di­rectly serviceable to the purposes of reason and reva­lation: and finally, that the works of a secular pro­fession are only acceptable sacrifices to God, when consecrated by wise principles and virtues cleaving [Page 12] to and mingling with them. Do not therefore think, that a pretence of business can cancel your obligations to the duties of Christianity. If a man could fansie, which I never can, business and reli­gion incompatible; it is evident which were to be preferred; since if God's will were so, it is much better to be starved than to be damned. But with­out carrying the matter so far, it is plain that virtue and religion, with a competency, render men abun­dantly more happy than wealth can do, if attended with the neglect or contempt of either: it is the riches of the mind make men great and happy; the igno­rant and irreligious can never be either. Let no man therefore think that he suffers any damage, if he must maintain his virtue and religion by the diminuti­on of his trade; tho' I cannot comprehend that there can be a necessity of this: for I have never yet ob­served any man so oppressed and overcharged with business, as not to find time for pleasure, when he has pretended he could find none for religion. In a word, the neglect of religion is capable of no excuse; not only because your future, but present happiness, depends upon it. Modesty or moderation, to curb a vain and ambitious thirst of wealth; faith or confi­dence in the providence of God, to restrain you from mean, base and unlawful courses; self-resignation to prevent anxiety, and those fears to which the uncer­tainties, changes and revolutions of times and trade make men subject, seem to me as necessary to the peace and happiness of a trader, as a competent stock, industry or skill, can be to his worldly success or pros­perity: and tho' men who allow themselves no time, either for attendance upon public religion, or pri­vate meditation, may talk finely of these virtues by [Page 13] way of notion and speculation, it is impossible they should be really possessed of them. How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the good, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks? which the au­thor of Ecclesiasticus, by a parity of reason, extends further to all traders and artisans, who are in like manner wholly taken up in their art. I could there­fore wish that those words of our Saviour, What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, were writ in capital letters in the most conspicuous place of the counting house, and the shop, that you might ever and anon be put in mind, that there is one thing more necessary, even than the diligent and prosperous management of the trade, namely, religion. For to what pur­pose is it, that your books are well kept, that there is order and regularity in the whole conduct of your trades, if at the same time your neglected hearts lie, like the field of the sluggard waste, and open, and over-grown with briers, and thorns, and weeds; or like the confused stock of a careless or unskiful trader, which wastes and decays each day? to what purpose is it that you be punctual dealers towards men, if you be bankrupts towards God? to what purpose is it that you have credit and honour upon the Change, if you be poor and beggarly, shameful and sneaking in yourselves within, having your souls destitue of any true peace, wealth or courage; and shift the accusations and importunities of conscience, as much as a wretched debtor would a severe and in­exorable creditor? ah! while you pursue the world, forget not that there is a heaven; and while you make provision for time, make some too for eternity: [Page 14] let your stating your accounts with men▪ put you in mind of clearing your accounts with God; and let these two things never be out of your thoughts; first, that it is God who gives man power to get wealth; and next, that it is not a clear estate, but a clear soul that makes man happy; I mean, a soul freed from silly and vile affections, and enrich­ed with a knowledge and love of God and goodness.

Fourthly, The trader must propose to himself pro­per and rational ends of trading: for whoever pro­poses to himself vain and false ones, will entangle his life in manifold troubles and temptations, and lose his reason religion and tranquility, in the wind­ings and mazes of wretched fancies and unaccounta­ble projects. The ends of trading I take to be these: First, a competent and honest support of your­selves and families. Secondly, a charitable succour and relief of others. Thirdly, a timely retreat from a secular calling, to a contemplative life.

First, A competent and honest support of your­selves and families. This end is pointed out by the Apostle, Tit. 3.14. and called necessary uses, i.e. we must design in trade the support of the necessi­ties, not lusts of nature. And were not all trades over-stocked, and consequently the observation su­perfluous, I should tell you, that public as well as private necessities, were here to be understood. Nor is your care here limited to your own necessities on­ly, but those also for your children and posterity demand their share in it; but then, lest under this pretence you extend your desires beyond all bounds, you are to remember, that in resolving the measures [Page 15] of this provision, you are not to take counsel of your own ambition, or the wanton expectations of your children; that provision for them is wisest, which lays a sufficient foundation for their industry to build on, and leaves them under an obligation to business and employment. And is not this enough? to what purpose should men toil, cark, and pinch, to make their families rich and great, that is, lazy and wanton, to leave them an estate which their own example proves more than necessary; for most of those that do so, have made little use of it them­selves: mistake me not; I do not think it unlawful to be rich, or to leave one's family so; but I think it foolish and sinful too, to sacrifice the peace of one's mind, and the ease of one's life, to the lust of rich­es: I think it silly and vitious to raise a family by meanness and sordidness, or to lay the foundation of children's greatness in one's infamy. In short it is not wealth but an inordinate passion for it, which I condemn: prosperity is the gift of God, a common reward of Christian virtues: for Christianity is said to have the promises of this life and that which is to come. Wealth then may be received, but it must not be designed as your first and chief end. Thus fame, honour, and power, are great blessings and favours of heaven; but whoever immoderately thirsts after the one or the other is ambitious and vain glorious. You may receive temporal good things with gratitude, and enjoy them with mode­ration; but if you dote upon them, you violate the vow of your baptism, and virtually renounce your faith: for would not this be to forget that heaven were your kingdom and country, and earth the place of your exile, or, at best, pilgrimage? This is [Page 16] that lesson which cannot be too often inculcated: not only on the account of that violent opposition it is almost every where encountred with▪ but also the vast importance it is of, to the quiet and content­ment of a trading life: this one thing is the philoso­phy the trader should be ever studying, the wisdom he should be daily pursuing; that is, a true and just moderation of his desires of wealth. Did man know how to bound his desires by the necessities or conveniences of human life; could he regulate his appetites by the modesty and moderation of Chris­tianity, not by custom and fancy; I am confident, this one thing alone would rescue him from the far greater part of evil incumbrances which infest hu­man life: vanity and ambition, envy and emulati­on wantonness and fancy, create most of those diffi­culties and necessities which stain the beauty, dis­turb the peace and order, and destroy the pleasure of life. When men's desires and aims are too big for their callings, they are unavoidably plunged into dis­content and doubtful projects; and if they sink not finally into ruin, they cannot be held up but by such an anxious and restless persecution of the world, as looks rather like hurry or distraction, than trade or employment. I can therefore never think a trades­man happy, till he has modesty enough to find con­tent in the revenue of a moderate and easy trade; till he understands what are the bounds his nature and his station sets him; tho' he know how to enjoy a great fortune, does never want one; has sense e­nough to use it, and virtue enough not to let his hap­piness depend upon it.

Secondly, A charitable succor and relief of others. [Page 17] It is confessed by all, that men are born, not for themselves only, but for others too; and God, the dispenser of temporal wealth, commands such as are rich in this world, to be rich in good works too: but it is always to be provided, that justice do first take place, and then charity. This direction there­fore supposes the trader's accounts to stand fair; it supposes him to have discharged the duties which he owes to his relatives and dependents, or else to have none. I will not insist on the obligation or pleasure of charity; I will not press you to it by the interest of your present, and future happiness: for the truth is, to do right to the trading world, there is no rank or order of men in the kingdom, that is more sensible of the duty of charity, or more inclin'd and disposed to it; none that give more eminent proofs of it while living, or leave more glorious monuments of it be­hind them. One thing only I will take upon me to recommend to you; that is, the advice of Solomon; [...] the [...] findeth to do, do it with thy might: for there is no work, nor device, nor know­ledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest: that is, whatever good you design to do, do it spee­dily as much as in you lies, be your own executors. How often are excellent purposes strangled in the birth by an unexpected death! how frequently are they perverted by the corruption and negligence of those to whose inspection they are committed! be­sides, this way you shall reap the fruit of your own plantations you will enjoy the pleasure and satisfac­tion resulting from the perfection, beauty, and good contrivance of the foundation you have laid; or you will be able to supply the defects, or correct the er­rors of your model, and prevent those future miscar­riages [Page 18] which such designs are liable to. Tho' all this be very much, yet it is but the least part of what you will reap from being yourselves the executors of your own bounty; you will be sure that you dedicate it to charity, not vanity; that you are building alms-houses for the living, not tombs and pyramids for the dead; you will escape the common cheat and im­posture the rich put upon themselves while they in­tangle themselves in covetousness all their lives, un­der pretence of designing mighty things after death.

Thirdly, The tradesman ought to propose to him­self a timely retreat, i. e. if the necessities of this indigent state will give way to it; which seems to me natural, to finish business before we finish life; to lay down our burthen before we tire and fall under the weight of it; and quit troublesome em­ployments, before our bungling discharge of them proclaim the decay of our parts and strength, and the increase of our avarice and ambition: nay, the very continuance of the same cares for the world, which looked before like prudence, will, in old age, be reckoned sin and folly. To trade, is but to make provision for life; and therefore since com­mon sense will tell us, that we must not be always providing for life, and never live; it is plain men ought, if they can, at length break off their trade, or at least so contract it, that it may be rather diver­sion than labour. As Solomon sends us to the ants to learn industry, so might he to learn wisdom too; the enjoyment of their treasure in winter being no less an instance of the one, than their labour of lay­ing it up in the summer, of the other. Besides, in ripe years, the advice of the prophet seems to be [Page 19] addressed to every man: Set thy house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live. State your accounts, settle your fortune, compose the differences of your family, and fix your children, so that you may be able to discern what course they will steer when you are gone, and to correct any error they are apt to fall into, while you live, which may otherwise, when you are dead, prove incorrigible and destruc­tive. If these motives, taken from decency, pru­dence and morality, seem too light, there is an­other of more weight and moment behind; that is, the consideration of your eternal interest. It is highly necessary to leave the world before you be torn from it, and to acquaint yourselves more fa­miliarly with another world, before you pass into it, to make your abode in it for ever. Certainly it re­quires some time to prepare the soul for death and judgment; and that man will be very unfit for either, who is carried from the counter to the grave, and from the intanglements of secular cares to the tribu­nal of God. But besides the benefits which you will find in retirement, the prospect and proposal of it has many in it; the hopes of a sabbatic year in life, will ease the weight and travail of those that precede it; and a design of retreating from trade and busi­ness, will be apt to induce men to pass their first years with more moderation and abstinence, that they may the sooner provide the means of an easy or ho­nourable retirement.

These rules well observed, would free the negoti­ating life from all the great evils and inconvenien­ces it is subject to. Business, as it was in the time of innocence, would be, not the curse, but the bles­sing [Page 20] of mankind; and trade would be as easy and in­nocent, if not as pleasant, as Adam's Husbandry in his garden: for thus industry would be without drudgery, and care without anxiety; commerce would be carried on without any mean or ill artifice, without impatient and tormenting designs, of tire­some and vexatious disappointments. What need would there be of shifts and equivocaitions, of fraud and circumvention, if a man had saith enough to believe, that God's blessing upon his industry were the only way to grow truly rich; I mean, to get, if not so much as he would, yet as much as would be good for him? what temptation would men lie under to bondage and drudgery, or to perplexity and anx­iety, if he could contain his desires within those nar­row bounds which nature and his station have pre­scribed him? what fears could disquiet the mind, which were formed into an intire resignation to, and dependence upon God? or, how could the world in­snare that soul, which allots a proper time for pub­lic religion, and private meditation? in a word, these rules being followed, men would not only avoid the common rocks on which the happiness and fortune of the trader generally dashes, but also attain the end of this sort of active life▪ they would get estates in their younger years, and enjoy them in their riper: nay, no portion of life would want its proper and seasonable enjoyments; they would in the midst of business preserve their innocence, and when they did retire from it, they would perfect that religion which they could before but begin; and enrich, and adorn, and entertain the soul, which they could but guard and defend before, and scarcely maintain in life; I mean, spiritual life▪


This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.