Justice

Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; for thou renderest to every man according to his work.
— Psalm 62 v.12

Sin and punishment are in no antagonism to each other in man, any more than pardon and punishment are in God; they can perfectly co-exist. The one naturally follows the other. Sin and suffering are not opposites; the opposite of evil is good, not suffering; the opposite of sin is not suffering, but righteouness. The path across the gulf that divides right from wrong is not the fire, but repentance. If my friend has wronged me, will it console me to see him punished? Will his agony be a balm to my deep wound? But would not the shadow of repentant grief, the light of reviving love on his countenance, heal it at once, however deep? Take any of those wicked people in Dante’s hell, and ask wherein is justice served by their punishment. Mind, I am not saying it is not right to punish them; I am saying that justice is not, never can be, satisfied by suffering. Human resentment, human revenge, human hate may be so satisfied. Such justice as Dante’s keeps wickedness alive in its most terrible forms. Is God not defeated every time that one of those lost souls defies him? God is triumphantly defeated throughout the hell of his vengeance. The notion that a creature born with impulses to evil not of his own generating, and which he could not help having, a creature to whom the true face of God was never presented, should be thus condemned, is a loathsome lie against God. It never in truth found place in any heart, though in many a pettifogging brain. There is but one thing lower than deliberately to believe such a lie, and that is to worship the God of whom it is believed.