[Abu Ismaa'eel] Muhammad bin Ismaa'eel at-Tirmidhee said:
I and Ahmad bin al-Hasan at-Tirmidhee were with the Imaam of the Deen, Abu Abdullaah Ahmad bin Hanbal and Ahmad bin al-Hasan said to him: O Abu Abdullaah, they mentioned the Ashaabul-Hadeeth (the People of Hadeeth) to Ibn Abee Qutaylah of Makkah and he said: 'The Ashaabul-Hadeeth are an evil people.' So Imaam Ahmad stood and while shaking off the dust from his garment he said: 'Zindeeq (heretic), zindeeq, zindeeq', [and he continued like this] until he entered his house.
Aqidah al-Salaf wa As-haab al-Hadeeth (p. 300)
Note: Preserving the honour of the people of hadeeth, sunnah and aathaar, maintaining respect for them is from having taqwa of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic.
Translated by Abu Iyaad (@abuiyaadsp)
Foundations of the Sunnah, 1996, Maktabah Salafiyyah