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Friday, January 30, 2015

Martyrs 14: Johann Herrgett-bookseller, a Lutheran

      This continues from Part 13 (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. — Part 14 presents the essay on Johann Herrgett (or Herrgott), a bookseller. This martyrer was mentioned in Walther's essay on Voes and Esch, but a more detailed account is given below.
      There are some reports on German websites (here and here) that purport to associate Herrgett's martyrdom with some ties to Müntzer and the Anabaptist movement.  Even Philip Schaff seems to follow this notion.  I suspect these are strained attempts and speculative, and probably at best would reflect a confusion on Herrgett's part.  And so I will take C.G. Hofmann's report, the source that Fick used for his book, as authoritative – that Herrgett was indeed martyred as a Lutheran.  Both Fick and C.F.W. Walther judged this to be the case – these two did not accept all the so-called "Church History" emanating from Germany.  —
      Luther distinguishes false "martyrs" from the true ones in his day:
The factious spirits, Anabaptists, etc,  are therefore the most obstinate in that they believe themselves to be vain martyrs, where they are not permitted to have their raging and raving. (StL ed., vol. 10, para. # 76, col. 899, ; not in Am. Ed.)
Some highlighting added hyperlinks added for reference.
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by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)
XIV.
"And if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all."
(Phil. 2:17)
As Doctor Luther publicly disputed with Dr. Eck at Leipzig in 1519 on several important doctrines of the Christian faith and also once preached, he converted so many from the papal darkness to the blessed light of the Gospel.  This lover of truth dared, in 1524, on the Saturday after Easter, to file a petition with the city council: "that the Council may in one of the churches of the city call Mr. Andreas, who preaches in the convent of St. George in front of St. Peter's gate, and summon him as preacher. The citizenry would give him the salary.  Mr. Andreas was a man who preached God's Word pure and clear, giving rise to no turmoil and always urged obedient toward the authorities."  This petition was signed by 104 citizens by name.  The Council sent the petition to Duke George; but this popish tyrant struck off everything completely and let the citizens know that they had enough preachers, and it was not up to them to elect preachers to their liking.
So the hope of Leipzig was destroyed for the free exercise of religion.  For God had decided in Leipzig first that the evangelical Lutheran doctrine would be sealed with the blood of the holy martyrs before they triumphed publicly over the papacy.  The above-mentioned incident was the one that opened the Duke’s eyes.  He saw that in Leipzig were more followers of the evangelical teachings of Luther than previously believed, and that all his prohibitions notwithstanding the pure religion had been rooted in the hearts of the citizens of Leipzig.  Therefore he attacked it as a faithful servant of the Roman Antichrist with all violence, to exterminate this doctrine from Leipzig.  The first one on which he had enforced a bloody judgment was Johann Herrgett, a Leipzig bookseller. On pain of severe punishment the Duke had forbidden [page 115] Luther's writings and to buy or sell his translation of the New Testament.  But the dear Herrgett obeyed God rather than men.  He had brought all sorts of Lutheran books to Leipzig and sold them secretly.  This secrecy was betrayed.  The Council of Leipzig quickly insured themselves,  putting  him into prison and interrogating him.  And after he was sufficiently convicted, he was transferred to the command of Duke Georg in Leipzig where at the public market before the town hall he was brought from life to death by the sword.  The Lutheran books they found from him were publicly burned in the market.  Certainly Herrgett could easily have saved his life by denial, but as a faithful witness of the Lord Jesus, he was delighted to be offered upon the sacrifice and service of our faith, and thereby to praise the Lord.
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"The Lutheran books they found from him were publicly burned in the market.." 
– Herrgett died as a Lutheran. —  In the next Part 15 is the account of Nicolaus of Antwerp.

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