From his infancy, Scougal was raised with religion. From his youth, Scougal spent his free hours in reading, meditation and prayer. He especially enjoyed studying the historical passages of the Old Testament.
In 1665 Scougal entered King's College, University of Aberdeen, and, after graduation, was promoted to the office of Professor of Philosophy. In 1672, Scougal was ordained and appointed minister of a church 20 miles from Aberdeen, where he served for one year before returning to take the office of Professor of Divinity at King's College, where he taught for five years. He spoke Latin, Hebrew, and a few Asian languages.
Scougal produced a number of works while a pastor and professor of divinity at King's. His most recognized work, The Life Of God In The Soul Of Man, was originally written to a friend to explain Christianity and give spiritual counsel. This work was almost universally praised by the leaders of the Great Awakening, including George Whitefield, who said he never really understood what true religion was until he had digested Scougal's treatise.