The degrees from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth are Historical and Religious. They embody the period in which they were written, and apply in equal force today.
They teach WAR AGAINST IGNORANCE, INTOLERANCE AND ERROR, THAT EVERY NOBLE HEART IS GOD'S TEMPLE, and WE SHOULD LABOR TO ESTABLISH THE REIGN OF LOVE AND PEACE, THUS BUILDING A LASTING TEMPLE OF GOD.
John the Baptist taught a creed belonging to the sect of the Essenes and very similar to Christianity. They believed that TRUTH was scattered in different sects. Light was the symbol of Good; Darkness was Evil. The Cross has been a sacred emblem of earliest antiquity; the Rose a symbol of dawn. Together the Rose and the Cross represent the dawn of Eternal Life.
15th degree - Knight of the East of the Sword, or of the Eagle: Fidelity to obligations and perseverance of purpose under difficulties and discouragement are the lessons of this degree. The striking crimson velvet apron of this degree is edged with green, having a bleeding head above two crossed swords, and a triangle (top point to the left) with three interlaced triangles inside it. The jewel is three golden concentric triangles encompassing two crossed swords.
16th degree - Prince of Jerusalem: We learn "heroism of patience, the nobility of self-sacrifice" and compassionate judgment, along with charity, fidelity and brotherhood. This crimson apron is edged in gold and aurora-color, and with a square, shield, Delta (with three YOD's), balance, and a hand of justice. The jewel worn is a mother-of-pearl lozenge, with a hand holding a balance in equipoise; under it a sword with five stars surrounding the point. On the left is a Hebrew D, on the right is a Hebrew Z.
17th degree - Knight of the East and West: The wisdom of this degree is that loyalty to God is man's primary allegiance, and the temporal governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall. The apron worn is of yellow satin, with crimson and gold, and with a sword and Tetracyts (of the Tetragrammaton) on it. The jewel is a heptagon of silver and gold, with crossed swords on a balance on the obverse, and a lamb on the Book of Seven Seals on the reverse. The jewel is hung from a double order -- one black (left-to-right) and one white (right-to-left), representing good versus evil. A gold coronet is also presented.
18th degree - Knight Rose Croix: This degree emphasizes that life and its strength come from God. The rose signifies the dawn and the cross is a sacred symbol of antiquity in many cultures. One is also taught to be tolerant of others errors and their faults. The apron worn is of white leather or satin, bordered in red, with a skull and cross-bones, a red passion cross, and three red rosettes. The grand jewel is a gold compass open a quarter circle. A rose-cross is between the legs of the compass, and under it is a pelican, tearing its breast to feed its seven young, on the obverse, an eagle with wings extended, on the reverse. On the circle are the letters I.N.R.I.