This excerpt is taken from Edward Pusey’s english translation of Augustine’s famous work “The Confessions of Saint Augustine” in book eleven.
See, I answer him that asketh, “What did God before He made heaven and earth?” I answer not as one is said to have done merrily (eluding the pressure of the question), “He was preparing hell (saith he) for pryers into mysteries.” It is one thing to answer enquiries, another to make sport of enquirers. So I answer not; for rather had I answer, “I know not,” what I know not, than so as to raise a laugh at him who asketh deep things and gain praise for one who answereth false things. But I say that Thou, our God, art the Creator of every creature: and if by the name “heaven and earth,” every creature be understood; I boldly say, “that before God made heaven and earth, He did not make any thing.” For if He made, what did He make but a creature? And would I knew whatsoever I desire to know to my profit, as I know, that no creature was made, before there was made any creature.
But if any excursive brain rove over the images of forepassed times, and wonder that Thou the God Almighty and All-creating and All-supporting, Maker of heaven and earth, dust for innumerable ages forbear from so great a work, before Thou wouldest make it; let him awake and consider, that he wonders at false conceits. For whence could innumerable ages pass by, which Thou modest not, Thou the Author and Creator of all ages? or what times should there be, which were not made by Thee? or how should they pass by, if they never were? Seeing then Thou art the Creator of all times, if any time was before Thou madest heaven and earth, why say they that Thou didst forego working? For that very time didst Thou make, nor could times pass by, before Thou madest those times. But if before heaven and earth there was no time, why is it demanded, what Thou then didst? For there was no “then,” when there was no time.
Nor dost Thou by time, precede time: else shouldest Thou not, precede all times. But Thou precedest all things past, by the sublimity of an ever-present eternity; and surpasses all future because they are future, and when they come, they shall be past; but Thou art the Same, and Thy years fail not. Thy years neither come nor go; whereas ours both come and go, that they all may come. Thy years stand together, because they do stand; nor are departing thrust out by coming years, for they pass not away; but ours shall all be, when they shall no more be. Thy years are one day; and Thy day is not daily, but To-day, seeing Thy To-day gives not place unto to-morrow, for neither doth it replace yesterday. Thy To-day, is Eternity; therefore didst Thou beget the Coeternal, to whom Thou saidst, This day have I begotten Thee. Thou hast made all things; and before all times Thou art: neither in any time was time not.
At no time then hadst Thou not made any thing, because time itself Thou madest. And no times are coeternal with Thee, because Thou abidest; but if they abode, they should not be times.-Saint Augustine, 397 AD
Help! I Don’t understand old english!
Don’t worry fam! I’ve got your back. All these definitions are taken from Websters Dictionary of 1828 http://webstersdictionary1828.com
EXCUR’SIVE, adjective Rambling; wandering; deviating; as an excursive fancy or imagination.
ROVE, verb intransitive [Latin rapio.] To wander; to ramble; to range; to go, move or pass without certain direction in any manner, by walking, riding, flying or otherwise.
FO’REPAST, adjective Past before a certain time; as forepast sins. [Little used.]
DOST, the second person of do, used int he solemn style; thou dost
SUBLIM’ITY, noun [Latin sublimitas.]
1. Elevation of place; lofty highth.
2. Highth in excellence; loftiness of nature or character;