10. To return to the dogma of eternal punishment, the principal argument invoked in its favor is the following:
It is admitted, among humankind, that the heinousness of an offence is proportioned to the quality of the offended party. An offence committed against a sovereign, being considered as more heinous than it would be if committed against a private person, is therefore punished more severely. God is greater than any earthly sovereign; since God is infinite, an offence against God is infinite also, and must consequently incur an infinite (that is to say, an eternal) punishment.
Refutation. The refutation of any argument is a reasoning that must have a definite starting- point, a basis on which it rests, in a word, a clear and stable premise. We take, as our premise the necessary attributes of God, that is to say, the attributes without which God could not be God.
God is unique, eternal, immutable, immaterial, all-powerful, sovereignly just and good, infinite in all God’ s perfections.
It is impossible to conceive of God otherwise than as possessing the infinity of God’s perfections; were God otherwise, God would not be God, for there might be some other Being possessing the quality, which God lacked. In order for God to be above all other beings, God must necessarily be such that no other being can surpass or even equal God in any respect. Consequently God must be infinite in all God’s attributes.
The attributes of God, being infinite, are not susceptible of increase or of diminution; otherwise, they would not be infinite, and God would not be perfect. If the smallest particle were taken from any of God’s attributes, God would no longer be God, for there might be some other being more perfect than God.
The infinity of a quality excludes the possibility of the existence of any quality that is contrary to it, and which would be capable of annulling or of lessening it. A being that is infinitely good cannot possess the smallest particle of wickedness, any more than a being that was infinitely bad could possess the smallest particle of goodness; just as no object could be absolutely black if it had the slightest tint of white, or absolutely white, if it had the smallest speck of black.
This basis and starting point being laid down, we oppose, to the proposition brought forward above, the following arguments: