Hetzer, Ludwig

Hetzer, Ludwig was born in the canton Thurgau, Switzerland (date unknown). When the Reformation broke out in-Switzerland he was in the vigor of youth, and he entered into the movement with great zeal and energy. He was chaplain at Wadenschwyl, on Lake Zurich, in 1523, and in September of that year he published a tract against images, under the title Urtheil Gottes wie man sich mit allen Gotzen und Bildnissen halten soil, etc., which ran through several editions, and greatly stirred the popular mind. In October of the same year, when the second conference on the use of images. etc., took place at Zurich, he was appointed to keep the minutes, and to publish an official account of them. Zwingle and AEcolampadius appreciated his talents, especially his Hebrew learning, and, in spite of a certain heat and rashness which marked his character, they hoped much from his activity in the Reformation. In 1524 he went to Augsburg, with a recommendation from Zwingle, and there his learning and eloquence soon made him popular. But within a year, owing to a theological dispute with Urbanus Rhegius, in which Hetzer maintained Anabaptist views, he was compelled to quit Augsburg. Returning to Switzerland, he was kindly received at Basle by AEcolampadius, and was employed early in 1526 in translating Zwingle's reply to Bugenhagen into German. He seems to have satisfied both Zwingle and AEcolampadius on this visit that he was not an Anabaptist; but before the middle of the same year he was expelled from Zurich for preaching the new doctrine. At Strasburg he agreed with Johann Denk (q.v.) to issue a translation of the Prophets of the O.T. It appeared in the spring of 1527, and passed in four years through thirteen editions. This work is now very scarce; two copies, however, belong to the library of the Crozer Theological Seminary, Upland, Pa. Hetzer seems to have imbibed the theological views of Denk, so far, at least, as the doctrine of the Trinity is concerned, and to have aided him in spreading his doctrines in Works, Landau, and other places. He had previously been charged with looseness of morals, and in 1827 the crime of adultery was charged upon him. He was brought to trial and beheaded at Constance, Feb. 3,1529. Such is the common account of Hetzer's life, founded on contemporary writings and letters of Ambrose Blaurer, Zwingle, and others of the Reformers. See Mosheim, Ch. Hist. cent. 16, ch. 3 § 5; Trechsel Antitrinitarier, 1, 13; Keim, in Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 6, 61. Baptist writers, however, deny the charges of Socinianism and immorality, and assert that Hetzer was not only a man of great learning, but of gentle spirit and deep piety; and that he died a martyr to his Baptist principles. See H. Osgood, in Baptist Quarterly Review, July 1869, p. 333.

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