We may gather from what has been presented above (§§276–283) about the innocence of angels in heaven that innocence is the vessel of everything heavenly and therefore that children’s innocence is a matrix for all the affections for what is good and true. We explained there that innocence is wanting to be led by the Lord and not by oneself, so that the extent to which we are in innocence determines the extent to which we are freed from preoccupations with our self-image. To the extent that we are freed from this self-image, we gain an identity given by the Lord. The Lord’s identity is what is called the Lord’s righteousness and worth.
Children’s innocence, though, is not real innocence, because it still lacks wisdom. Real innocence is wisdom because to the extent that we are wise we want to be led by the Lord; or what amounts to the same thing, to the extent that we love being led by the Lord, we are wise.
So children are brought through from the outward innocence that characterizes them at first, which is called the innocence of infancy, to the inner innocence that is the innocence of wisdom. This latter innocence is the goal of their whole process of instruction. Consequently, when they arrive at the innocence of wisdom, the innocence of infancy that had served them as a matrix in the interim is united to them.
The nature of children’s innocence was portrayed to me as something woody and almost lifeless that was brought to life as the children were brought toward fulfillment by discoveries of truth and the effects of what is good. Afterward the nature of real innocence was portrayed as a supremely beautiful child, naked and very much alive. The actual innocent people who are in the inmost heaven look to the eyes of other angels simply like children, some of them naked, since innocence is portrayed as a nakedness without embarrassment, as we read concerning the first man and his wife in the garden (Genesis 2:25). So too, when they lost their innocence they were ashamed of their nakedness and hid themselves (Genesis 3:7, 10, 11).
In short, the wiser angels are, the more innocent they are; and the more innocent they are, the more they look like children. This is why infancy in the Word means innocence (see above, Section 278).
from Heaven and Hell, Section 341
Section 278: Published 6/18/18