13. God is supremely just. The most perfect justice is neither that which is utterly inexorable, nor that which leaves wrongdoing uncorrected; it is that which keeps the most exact account of good and evil, which rewards the one and chastises the other with the most perfect equity, and which never makes the slightest mistake.
If, for a temporary fault – which is, always, a result of the imperfection of human nature, and, often, of the surroundings in which the wrongdoer has been placed – the soul were to be castigated eternally, without hope of forgiveness or of any diminution of suffering, there would be no proportion between the fault and its chastisement, and, consequently, no justice in the chastisements of the future.
If those who have committed evil retrace their steps, repent, and demand of God to be allowed to make reparation for their evil deeds, this change of mind constitutes a return to virtue, to rectitude of feeling. But if the castigation of the other life were irrevocable, such a return to virtuous sentiments would remain sterile; and as, in that case, God would take no account of their desire for amendment, God would not be just. Among human beings, convicts who repent and amend obtain a commutation of their punishment, or, sometimes, even a full pardon; so that there would be more equity in human jurisprudence than in the penal code of the Divinity!
If the sentence passed on the sinner were irrevocable, repentance would be useless, and the sinner, being shut out forever from virtue, would be forcibly doomed to remain in evil; so that God would not only condemn the sinner to suffer forever, but would also compel such a one to remain forever in wickedness. But, in that case, God would be neither just nor good; in other words, God would not be God.