He was first settled minister at Vertal in France, but was afterwards by the interest of Sieur du Plessis translated to be professor of divinity at Saumur, and some time after was invited home by king James and settled principal of the college of Glasgow and minister of Govan, at which place he ordinarily wrote his sermons in full, and yet when he came to the pulpit he appeared with great life and power of affection. While he was in France the popish controversy employed his thoughts, but the church of Scotland engrossed almost his whole attention after his return home, and he became a zealous friend and supporter of the more faithful part of the ministry, against the usurpation of the bishops and their ceremonies.
But the prelatists knowing that the eminency of his place, his piety and learning would influence many to take part with that way, they therefore laboured with great assiduity, both by intreaties, threatenings and the persuasions of some of his friends, in so much that he gave in a paper to Law arch-bishop of Glasgow, in which he seemed in some sort to acknowledge the pre-eminence of bishops, but he got no rest the next night after this, being sore troubled for what he had done, he went back and sought his paper again with tears, but the bishop pretended that he had already sent it up to the king, so that he could not obtain it.
Mr. Boyd, finding that from this time forward he could enjoy no peace in this place, he demitted both, and was chosen principal of the college of Edinburgh, and one of the ministers of that city; Dr. Cameron came into his places at Glasgow in October 1622. Some of the other ministers of Edinburgh, particularly one Ramsay, envied him on account of his high reputation both as a preacher, and as a teacher (the well-affected part of the people both in town and country crowding to his church), and gave the king information against him as a non-conformist: the king sent a letter December the 13th to the magistrates of the town, rebuking them for admitting him, and commanding him to be removed: The magistrates were not obedient to the command, and by a courtier intreated he might be continued, but the king would not grant their request. Accordingly on the last of January 1623, he renewed the order to remove him, and he was in a little time after that turned out of his place and office.
Some short time after this, bishop Law was again prevailed on to admit Mr. Boyd to be minister of Paisley, for although no man was more opposite to the Perth articles than Mr. Boyd, as he had refused conformity to them both at Glasgow and Edinburgh, yet his learning and prudence recommended him to the bishop's esteem. Here he remained in security and peace until the earl of Abercorn's brother (a zealous papist) dispossessed him on a Sabbath afternoon while he was preaching, and threw all his books out of the house where he had his residence. Upon complaining to the privy-council the offender was imprisoned, and the court and bailies of Paisley having undertaken to repossess Mr. Boyd again, and the gentleman professing his sorrow for what he had done, Mr. Boyd interceeding with them for him, the council passed the matter over.
But no sooner went he to take possession, than he found the church doors secured, so that no access could be had, and though the magistrates would have broke them open, yet the mob (urged on as was supposed by the earl's mother) pressed so hard upon the good man, not only by opprobrious speeches, but also threw stones at him as if he had been a malefactor, that he was forced to fly to Glasgow, and afterwards, seeing no prospect of a peaceable settlement at Paisley, he returned to his own house at Trochrig in Carrick, where he (probably) continued to his death, which was some years after.
He was a man of great learning for that time, as his commentary on the Ephesians testifies. He would sometimes say, If he had his choice of languages wherein to deliver his sentiments it would be in Greek. He was of an austere countenance and carriage, and yet very tender-hearted. He had but a mean opinion of himself, but a high esteem of others in whom he perceived any signs of grace and ingenuity. In the time of that convincing and converting work of the Lord (commonly called Stuarton sickness) he came from his own house in Carrick, and met with many of the people; and having conversed with them, he heartily blessed the Lord for the grace that was given unto them.