NOT many people in our world know what innocence is or what its quality is, and people involved in evil do not know at all. It is, of course, visible to our eyes—something about the face and the voice and the gestures, especially of infants—but still we do not know what it is, much less that it is where heaven lies concealed within us. To make it known, I should like to proceed in order and talk first about the innocence of infancy, and then about the innocence of wisdom, and finally about the state of heaven in respect to innocence.
The innocence of infancy, or of little ones, is not real innocence, since it is solely a matter of outward form and not internal. Still, we can learn from it what innocence is like, since it does radiate from their faces and from some of their gestures and from their first efforts at speech and affects [the people around them. The reason it is not real innocence is] that they do not have any internal thought—they do not yet know what good and evil are, or what true and false are, and this knowledge is the basis of our thinking.
As a result, they do not have any foresight of their own, no premeditation, and therefore no intent of evil. They have no self-image acquired through love for themselves and the world. They do not claim credit for anything, but attribute everything they receive to their parents. They are content with the few little things given them as gifts and enjoy them. They are not anxious about food and clothing or about the future. They do not focus on the world and covet much from it. They love their parents, their nurse, and their little friends and play innocently with them. They are willing to be led, they listen and obey; and since they are in this state, they accept everything as a matter of life. So they have suitable habits, language, and the beginnings of memory and thought without knowing where these gifts come from; and their state of innocence serves as a means of accepting and absorbing them. However, since this innocence is strictly a matter of the body and not of the mind,a as already noted, it is external. Their mind is not yet formed, since the mind is our discernment and volition and the thought and affection that come from them.
I have been told from heaven that infants are especially in the Lord’s care, and that there is an inflow from the central heaven, where the state is one of innocence, that passes through infants’ deeper natures, affecting those natures in its passage only through innocence. This is the source of the innocence they present to our view in their faces and in some of their gestures. It is what deeply affects their parents and creates the love called storge.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 276, 277