In his work called The Spiritual Diary, scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg began to record his experiences with spirits and angels in the other world. He claimed to have received this gift of second sight directly from the Lord—a gift that Swedenborg enjoyed for the last three decades of his life. The purpose of this Divine commission—to let a successful scientist explore the spiritual realm—was to clear up false ideas about the nature of heaven to both human spirits and terrestrial humans.
One of those false beliefs were that those who died as infants on earth and grew up in heaven were pure of all evil (SD 3547). Swedenborg recounted an experience where he was in a gathering of human spirits who shared this belief. Then there appeared an angel of heaven, who died as an infant prince on earth, and who had learned otherwise about his own particular condition.
Because this angel prince had died so young, he was ignorant of his hereditary evils (which only plague those of us who grow to full maturity). This heavenly individual assured the gathering of spirits (including Swedenborg) that they were nothing but evil. Goodness comes from the Lord God alone, which is imparted to those who die in the innocence of infancy from divine mercy.
However, all hereditary evils are never fully extinguished, but only removed to the periphery of one’s life. This was proven to the prince angel when the Lord God permitted him to know the quality of his own hereditary evils by bringing them front and center! Swedenborg states that he was able to perceive a disposition in the prince to exercise dominion over others and make light of adulteries—a disposition he received from his ancestors.
These negative character traits adhered to the prince in spite of his being an angel. As said above, it was the Lord’s mercy which kept these evils from breaking out.
Those of us who die after maturity have to deal with hereditary evils more directly—especially those dispositions that unfortunately have become actual evils during our adult lives. To enter heaven, these actual evils can only be put aside with great agony and suffering—because these activities have become second nature (a part of our inner fabric) and unnoticed. (This suffering is minimized by those who sincerely start the serious process of spiritual purification and regeneration on earth.)
While infants are excused from this painful purifying process, Swedenborg indicates that such angels cannot develop as fully as those who on earth reached the age of maturity before they died.