St. Symeon the New Theologian, On Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses vol. 1 The Church and the Last Things
Adam’s descendants defile creation with idolatry
After these things had come to pass thus because of God’s wisdom, Adam, cast out of Paradise, begot his children, lived his life, and died. So likewise did his descendants do. The men of that time had a recent memory of the Fall, being taught about it in any case by Adam and Eve, and they therefore held God in reverence and honored Him as their Master. It was on account of this reverence that Abel and Cain offered sacrifices of their possessions to God. It is written that God accepted the offering and sacrifice of Abel, but not yet that of Cain. And Cain, knowing this, was grieved unto death, it is said, and from there was led even to the envy and murder of his brother. Enoch, however, later so pleases God that he is taken away by Him from the earth, as Elijah is carried up afterwards in the fiery chariot. In these latter instances God showed that if, even after His decision against Adam and Adam’s see was carried out, if, even after Adam’s exile, the latter’s sons should prove well-pleasing to Him, then He would honor them with a translation from the earth or with long life. Now if He delivered them from corruption, that is, from returning to the earth and descending into hell—them who were afterwards fated to die or, more truly speaking, be transformed—then how much greater would Adam’s glory and honor and welcome with God have been if he had not transgressed the commandment, or if transgressing, had repented and been allowed to remain in Paradise?
Thus for years knowledge about God was transmitted through a succession of teachers, and the ancients recognized their Creator. Later, though, when men had multiplied, and from their youth had turned their thoughts to evil, they were dragged down to forgetfulness and ignorance of God Who had made them, and worshipped not only idols and demons as gods, but even deified that very creation which God had given them for their service. They gave themselves up to every debauchery and unclean activity, soiling the earth, the air, the sky, and everything beneath it by their unnatural practices. For nothing else so soils the work of God and makes unclean what is clean as the deification of creation and the worshipping of it as equal to God the Creator and Maker. Thus all creation, defiled now and worshipped by man, is soiled and brought down to complete corruption. When, therefore, wickedness was complete, and all were imprisoned together in disobedience, according to the holy Apostle [Rom 11.32], then God, the Son of God, descended upon earth to re-fashion the one who had been broken, to bring him to life who had died, and to call His own creature back from delusion.
Now, pay attention, I beg you, to my exact words here, for I would have this treatise be useful to future generations. We will require the use of images in order to contemplate the Incarnation of the Word and His ineffable birth from Mary the ever-Virgin, and in order to know truly the mystery of the economy from on high, which was hidden before the ages, for the salvation of the world.