I have talked with angels about children, wondering whether they were free from evils because they did not have any realized evil the way adults do. I was told, though, that they are equally involved in evil, even to the point that they too are nothing but evil. However, they, like all angels, are withheld from their evils by the Lord and kept focused on what is good to the point that it seems to them as though they were focused on what is good of their own accord. So to prevent children from having a false notion about themselves after they have grown up in heaven—a belief that the good that surrounds them is from them and not from the Lord—they are let back into their hereditary evils from time to time and left in them until they know and recognize and believe the way things really are.
There was one individual who had died in infancy and grown up in heaven who had this kind of opinion. He was the son of a particular king; so he was let back into his own innate life of evil. I could tell then from the aura of his life that he had a drive to lord it over others and regarded adultery as of no concern whatever—evils that were part of his heredity from his parents. Once he recognized that he was like this, though, he was again accepted among the angels he had been with before.
In the other life, none of us suffers any punishment for inherited evil, because it is not ours. We are not at fault for our hereditary nature. We suffer punishment for any actualized evil that is ours—that is, for whatever hereditary evil we have claimed as our own by acting it out in our lives. The reason grown-up children are let back into the state of their hereditary evil is not to punish them. It is to make sure they know that on their own they are nothing but evil and that they are borne from hell into heaven by the Lord’s mercy, that they are in heaven not because they deserve it but as a gift from the Lord. This prevents them from inflating themselves over others because of the good that attends them, for this is in opposition to the blessing of mutual love just as it is against the truth of faith.
Several times a number of children have been with me in groups, before they had learned to talk at all. They made a soft, formless sound, as though they were not yet able to act together the way they would when they were older. What surprised me was that the spirits who were with me could not keep from trying to get them to talk—this kind of impulse is innate in spirits. Every time, though, I noticed that the children resisted, not wanting to talk like that. I often picked up a reluctance, a distaste, that had a kind of resentment in it. Once they did have some power of speech, all they said was “That isn’t so.” I was told that this is a kind of testing of the children not only to accustom and introduce them to resisting whatever is false and evil but to keep them from thinking or speaking or acting at the bidding of someone else, so that they will not let themselves be led by anyone but the Lord.
from Heaven and Hell, Sections 342, 343