In his essay, On the Delay of the Divine Justice, the ancient historian Plutarch answers objections that God, by failing to swiftly punish the guilty, is not just. Plutarch answers that man must not be too confident of his ability to pass judgment on things divine or assume to know God’s purposes for each man. God, by the delay of punishment, gives man the example of forebearance. He may seek the reformation of the guilty, and to the services which, when reformed, they may render to their country. He argues that the wicked often have their punishment postponed until after they have rendered some important action in which they are essential agents. He gives many examples of men who were not virtuous when young but became righteous as they aged.
Plutarch further argues that punishment is delayed only in appearance, but commences when the guilt is incurred. It seems slow because it can be long. He asserts the immortality of the soul. Punishments in a future state are out of sight.