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ISAIAH, xxiii. 8.
Whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the hou
nourable of the earth.
man to know how to magnify his vocation, the profession he is engaged in, or the business he car. ries on. This alleviates to him all the troubles and disagreeableness attending it; this repays him for the painful industry and the unremitted cares he bestows upon it; this stimulates him to do all that relates to it with alacrity and exactitude, and to neglect no part of it as unworthy of his attention ; though never so insignificant or trifling in itself. And how is this to be done? How does a man magnify his calling ? How does he add dignity to it? On one hand, by viewing it as a consequence of the regulations and constitutions established in the world by God; saying to himself: It is the will of God that mankind should be so connected together, fo labour for each other, and thus mutually contribute to the public interest ; and that I in particular should act in the station, the department I fill, in such a manner as my vocation demands. But also on the other hand by discerning the value of his calling, or what it is that renders it really important and estimable, by representing to himself its
connection with the welfare of society at large, and its beneficial influence upon it. By this means every man may confer a dignity on the calling he pursues, so that it be but lawful. And this is indisputably the best means and the strongest incitement to walk, as the apostle exhorts us, worthy of our vocation.
What may be advanced of every profession holds good in a particular manner when applied to commerce. And, as the generality of you are one way or other concerned in this vocation, it will not be thought unsuitable if I deliver a few confiderations which will enable you to think adequately of it. Having then, in the foregoing discourse, inveftigated the value of a busy life in general, I shall now proceed particularly to examine into the value of commerce, as a particular fpecies of it. In this design we should first shew, what gives to commerce, in the abstract, a confiderably great value; and then, how and by what means this its value is enhanced in regard to those by whom commerce is carried on.
When we afcribe a distinguished value to commerce, my pious hearers, we consider it not barely as a means of providing for our own support. This property it has in common with every profession, even the meanest calling of life, that it procures us food and raiment, and supplies the wants of nature. Neither do we consider it barely as the means of acquiring wealth, and of living more commodiously and elegantly than others, or of performing a more VOL. II.
distinguished distinguished part in society. For these likewise are advantages that belong not exclusively to this state of life. They may fall to the lot of the artist, thé mechanic, the husbandman, the man in public office, and even to persons of the learned professions. No, if we would rightly consider and appretiate the eminent value of commerce, and thence acquire for it the respect it deserves, we must take into the account its beneficial influence on the general prosperity, what it contributes towards the stock of human perfection and happiness. And now what are its pretensions in this respect ?
First, it sets mankind upon a far greater, a far more diversified, and thereby a more useful activity; and whatever promotes useful activity among mankind, promotes their interest. For only thus are the capacities and powers slumbering as it were within, rouzed, developed, exercised, and gradually brought to that degree of strength and perfection which they are designed to attain. And how greatly does commerce contribute to this effect! What numbers of hands, what numbers of heads, it employs! To what various kinds of trade and industry does it give life! To what various others does it communicate a weight and value, which but for it they could never acquire, and which without it would be carried on in a more careless and superficial manner! What various kinds of industry, of dexterity, of art, does it quicken and support, encourage and reward ! How alert and busy it ren
ders in numberless respects, the inventive faculties of man! What a powerful, far operating spring it is, in the whole of social and busy life ! How many wheels of this grand machine, large and small, does it set in motion! And what fatal stoppages and obstructions arise where its impulse is checked or im. peded! How many people it requires, how many people must strenuously exert their abilities in various ways, in rearing and obtaining the products of nature, in working them up, in improving them, in stowing them, in transporting them from one place to another, and often to the remotest regions of the habitable earth! How much less diligently and industriously would all this be done, how much fewer people be employed in it, if these several products received not additional value from every man's hand through which they pass, if by means of commerce they were not exchanged for other products of nature, or bartered to profit ! - How much less life, alacrity, industry, diligence and address, is perceptible where little or no commerce exists, than where it flourishes! How
hands and heads are there almost inactive, which here would be employed in variously useful ways! Would you convince yourselves of the life and activity which commerce excites among mankind, transport yourselves in imagination into the midst of a famous mercantile city, visit its exchange and its harbour ; or only represent to yourselves fome populous and much frequented mart of trade; what a multitude
and diversity of busy persons of all ranks and condi. tions will you there perceive! And yet this is extraordinary activity, limited to a short portion of tine, and confined to a narrow space; activity very inconsiderable, compared to that which is an endless, uninterrupted consequence of commerce in the generality of countries on the habitable globe. And must not this give it a real, conspicuous value?
Commerce farther connects men more together, brings them nearer to each other, and causes their mutual dependence on each other to be more sensibly felt; and whatever brings and unites mankind more closely together is a source of pleasure and . happiness to them, and may become likewise an incitement to virtue. Mutual wants, common transactions, common views and advantages; what strong ties of connection! If the merchant be in want of the industry, the labour, the mechanical and mental powers, the service and asistance of a thousand men; these in return stand in need of his protection, his support, his encouragement, his pay. If the former would execute his designs and attain his purposes, a thousand others must co-operate with him to that'end. If he would reap the profit he expects from his business, he must let a thousand others obtain a proportionate advantage. That trade inay
be carried on with success; handicrafts, arts and agriculture, must flourish also; all ranks and conditions of men must then have more con. cerns together, work more for each other, and en