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Significant Scots
William Guild


GUILD, WILLIAM, an eminent divine, was the son of a wealthy tradesman in Aberdeen, where he was born in the year 1586. He received his education at Marischal college, then recently founded; and, while still very young, and before taking orders, published at London a work entitled "The New Sacrifice of Christian Incense," and another soon after, called "The Only Way to Salvation." His first pastoral charge was over the parish of King Edward, in the presbytery of Tureff and synod of Aberdeen. He here acquired both the affections of his flock, and an extended reputation as a man of learning and address, so that, when king James visited Scotland in 1617, bishop Andrews, who accompanied his majesty as an assistant in his schemes for the establishment of episcopacy, paid great attention to this retired northern clergyman, and took much of his advice regarding the proper method of accomplishing the object in view. Mr Guild acknowledged his sense of the bishop’s condescension, by dedicating to him in the following year his excellent work entitled "Moses Unveiled," which points out the figures in the Old Testament allusive to the Messiah. This was a branch of theological literature which Mr Guild had made peculiarly his own province, as he evinced further in the course of a few years, by his work entitled "The Harmony of the Prophets."

In 1610, Mr Guild was married to Catharine Rolland, daughter of Rolland of Disblair, by whom he had no issue. Not long after the royal visit above alluded to, he was appointed one of the king’s chaplains. The degree of doctor of divinity was also conferred upon him. From his retirement at King Edward, he sent out various theological works of popular utility, and at the same time solid learning and merit. Of these his "Ignis Fatuus," against the doctrine of Purgatory, "Popish glorying in antiquity turned to their shame," and his "Compend of the Controversies of Religion," are particularly noticed by his biographers. In the mean time he displayed many marks of attachment to his native city, particularly by endowing an hospital for the incorporated trades, which is described by Mr Kennedy, the historian of Aberdeen, as now enjoying a revenue of about 1000, and affording relief to upwards of a hundred individuals annually. In 1631, he was preferred to one of the pulpits of that city, and took his place amongst as learned and able a body of local clergy as could be shown at that time in any part of either South or North Britain. His distinction among the Aberdeen Doctors, as they were called, in the controversy which they maintained against the covenanters, was testified by his being their representative at the general assembly of 1638, when the system of church government to which he and his brethren were attached, was abolished. The views and practice of Dr Guild in this trying crisis, seem to have been alike moderate; and he accordingly appears to have escaped much of that persecution which befell his brethren. He endeavoured to heal the animosities of the two parties, or rather to moderate the ardour of the covenanters, to whom he was conscientiously opposed, by publishing "A Friendly and Faithful Advice to the Nobility, Gentry, and others;" but this, it is to be feared, had little effect. In 1640, notwithstanding his position in regard to the popular cause, he was chosen principal of King’s college, and in June, 1641, he preached his last sermon as a clergyman of the city. The king, about this time signified his approbation of Dr Guild’s services, by bestowing upon him "a free gift of his house and garden, which had formerly been the residence of the bishop." The reverend principal, in his turn, distributed the whole proceeds of the gift in charity.

Dr Guild continued to act as principal of King’s college till he was deposed by Monk in 1651, after which he resided in Aberdeen as a private individual. In his retirement he appears to have written several works—"the Sealed Book Opened," or an explanation of the Apocalypse, and "the Novelty of Popery Discovered," which was published at Aberdeen in 1656, and "an Explication of the Song of Solomon," which appeared two years after in London. He also exerted himself during this interval in improving the Trades’ Hospital, and in other charitable, pursuits. Upon these incorporations he bestowed a house on the south side of Castle Street (in Aberdeen,) the yearly rents of which he directed to be applied as bursaries, to such of the sons of members as might be inclined to prosecute an academical course of education in the Marischal college; and of this fund, we are informed by Mr Kennedy, six or eight young men generally participate every year. As an appropriate conclusion to a life so remarkably distinguished by acts of beneficence, Dr Guild, in his will dated 1657, bequeathed seven thousand merks, to be secured on land, and the yearly profit to be applied to the maintenance of poor orphans. By the same document, he destined his library to the university of St Andrews, excepting one manuscript, supposed to be the original of the memorable letter from the states of Bohemia and Moravia, to the council of Constance in 1415, relative to John Huss and Jerome of Prague: this curious paper he bequeathed to the university of Edinburgh, where it is still faithfully preserved. Dr Guild died in August, 1657, aged about 71 years. A manuscript work which he left was transmitted by his widow to Dr John Owen, to whom it was designed to have been dedicated, and who published it at Oxford in 1659, under the title of "The Throne of David; or an Exposition of Second (Book of) Samuel." Mrs. Guild, having no children upon whom to bestow her wealth, dedicated it to the education of young men and other benevolent purposes; and it appears that her foundations lately maintained six student of philosophy, four scholars at the public school, two students of divinity, six poor widows, and six poor men’s children.


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